The Sending Of The Spies

Pat Gibbons

In Numbers 13 and 14, we read about the sending of the spies to investigate the promised land. There were twelve spies sent, one from each tribe. They went throughout the land (Numbers 13:21-24), and, at the end of forty days, they returned (13:25). The report was to the effect that the land was indeed a land flowing “with milk and honey: and there is much fruit in it” (13:27) but that the people were strong and dwelled in walled cities. Ten of the spies brought an “evil report” (13:32), but Joshua and Caleb gave a report of faith or trust in God. They said, “Let us go up at once, and possess it; for we are well able to overcome it (31:30). However, the report of the ten prevailed when they said that “there we saw the giants … and we were in our own sight as grasshoppers, and so we were in their sight.” (13:33). Thus the people turned away from God and against Moses and Aaron. They rebelled to the extent that they appointed a leader who would take them back to Egypt. (Num. 14:11-12).

The rebellion against God and against His appointed leader, Moses, was such that the anger of God was kindled against the people and He was minded to destroy them all and raise up another nation from Moses (14:11-12). However, Moses interceded for the people, and God changed His mind in that they were not all destroyed. They were punished by being forced to spend 40 years in the wilderness. Also, the 10 spies who brought up an evil report died by the plague. (14:20-38).

The real problem of the people here was a lack of faith in God. They had seen the miracles God did in Egypt – the 10 plagues, the parting of the Red Sea, as well as the miracles performed in the wilderness – but they rejected this great amount of evidence and turned away from obeying God. However, this was not done with impunity. Those who maintained their faith in God and said that they could take the land were blessed. Of the adults that were numbered, only two reached the promised land: Joshua and Caleb. The rest who lost faith or trust in God died in the wilderness. They did not inherit the promised land. The difference between the two groups was a faith or trust in God that led to obedience by a few, and a lack of faith that led to disobedience by the majority.

Good people, it pays to be obedient to God. Let us be of the number who believe in God and strive to follow Him in faithful obedience. We must be like Joshua and Caleb, who, through trust, obeyed God and were blessed for it. 

This Bible account illustrates so beautifully the basis of acceptability to God today. See Rom. 15:4. “For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.” 

It is now, and always has been, that God will bless those who, in faith, obey His will. “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done-many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity. Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock. And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it.” Matthew 7:21-27. See also James 2:14-26. We must trust God and obey Him in everything. –119 Holden St., Rogersville, AL 35652.

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