God led Israel from Egypt, offered them provision, evidenced His presence to them, gave them instructions for living, and implemented rites for worship. Now, they were ready to enter the land He had promised them. Moses sent 12 spies to investigate the land and bring back a report of the opportunities set before them. One man per tribe was honored to represent his tribe in the expedition. Things they were likely meant to accomplish included surveying the land and its topography, projecting possible locations for military strikes, and bringing back information that would help the rest of the people plan for settling their homeland. What they brought back was a cluster of grapes so large two men had to carry it, some other fruit from the region, and two opposite reports to influence the people. One description encouraged embracing the promise and seizing the opportunities God had given; the other rejected possibilities in favor of fear. The two reports were given, but only one was accepted by the people. Note the differences.
( Excerpt from Numbers 13 & 14...Green: negative report. Pink: faith report. Blue: people's decision.)
And they told him, and said, We came unto the land whither thou sentest us, and surely it floweth with milk and honey; and this is the fruit of it. Nevertheless the people be strong that dwell in the land, and the cities are walled, and very great: and moreover we saw the children of Anak there. The Amalekites dwell in the land of the south: and the Hittites, and the Jebusites, and the Amorites, dwell in the mountains: and the Canaanites dwell by the sea, and by the coast of Jordan. And Caleb stilled the people before Moses, and said, Let us go up at once, and possess it; for we are well able to overcome it. But the men that went up with him said, We be not able to go up against the people; for they are stronger than we. And they brought up an evil report of the land which they had searched unto the children of Israel, saying, The land, through which we have gone to search it, is a land that eateth up the inhabitants thereof; and all the people that we saw in it are men of a great stature. And there we saw the giants, the sons of Anak, which come of the giants: and we were in our own sight as grasshoppers, and so we were in their sight.And all the congregation lifted up their voice, and cried; and the people wept that night. And all the children of Israel murmured against Moses and against Aaron: and the whole congregation said unto them, Would God that we had died in the land of Egypt! or would God we had died in this wilderness! And wherefore hath the Lord brought us unto this land, to fall by the sword, that our wives and our children should be a prey? were it not better for us to return into Egypt? And they said one to another, Let us make a captain, and let us return into Egypt. Then Moses and Aaron fell on their faces before all the assembly of the congregation of the children of Israel.
And Joshua the son of Nun, and Caleb the son of Jephunneh, which were of them that searched the land, rent their clothes: And they spake unto all the company of the children of Israel, saying, The land, which we passed through to search it, is an exceeding good land. If the Lord delight in us, then he will bring us into this land, and give it us; a land which floweth with milk and honey. Only rebel not ye against the Lord, neither fear ye the people of the land; for they are bread for us: their defence is departed from them, and the Lord is with us: fear them not.
Embracing the Word of the Lord with faith:
--Faith points out the fruit, the blessings, the milk and honey. It is optimistic and full of hope. It sees the reality in the same light as the promise.
--“Go up at once.” Faith responses are immediate. They don’t simmer in reasoning and accumulate doubt. Faith agrees with God’s plan with an instantaneous, resounding “Yes!”
--“We are well able to overcome it.” Faith has the mindset of confidence. Faith causes us to see ourselves as victorious, fighting from the position of supreme superiority over the adversary.
--“Exceeding good land.” Faith says it’s worth the effort and the risk. It’s valuable, and it is ours.
--“If the Lord delights in us, then he will…” Faith that embraces God’s promise recognizes relationship with God is key. Spiritual relationship gives us spiritual strength to claim spiritual opportunities.
--“Rebel not ye against the Lord.” Faith realizes NOT embracing God is the same as rejecting Him in rebellion.
--“Neither fear ye the people of the land; for they are bread for us: their defense is departed from them.” Faith that trusts God’s Word sees the enemy as powerless…and his defeat as a source of blessing. Faith says, “Plunder the enemy!” It declares that it is time to rob him rather than remaining a victim to his destructive forces at work in our lives.
--“The Lord is with us…” Faith has this truth settled: If God is on our side, nothing else matters.
Rejecting God’s Word through fear:
--Fear acknowledges that there are blessings, then quickly puts aside THAT reality in favor of a reality that disagrees with the promise of God.
--Fear has a “Nevertheless” that amplifies the human perspective.
--Fear sees giants of greater proportion than they are.
--Fear sees enemies on every side with no way out.
--Fear argues against faith. “We will NOT go up,” they said, shooting down Caleb’s faith declaration.
--Fear sees inadequacies because it focuses on self and human limitations.
--Fear squashes confidence by removing God from the equation.
--Fear makes assumptions about the power of others and relinquishes control to that which was not designed to be victorious.
--Fear that rejects God’s Word easily influences others because the human mindset is already at odds with the report of the Lord. Thus, the people accepted the evil report, and the disregard of His promises infiltrated the entire ranks.
--Fear pulls excuses into the picture and attempts to validate rejecting God’s word. “We just want to protect our families. That’s why we don’t want to fight the giants. We’ll go back to Egypt instead.”
--Fear, propagated in this manner, induces complaints. Then, fear turns complaining about current circumstances into embracing old lifestyles of slavery. Egypt was suddenly seen in a favorable light. Rejecting the opportunity set before them resulted in the people choosing to go back to taskmasters rather than fight for a land of their own.
--Those who reject the Word of God also reject His people. They were ready to stone those who shared the faith report.
--Fear severed the people from the promise of God, but the fear didn’t go away. It continued to rule. When the people were corrected by God, fear kept on working. Instead of remaining fearful of the Land of Promise, they were afraid of getting a deadly plague from God, afraid of the judgement they’d been given, afraid of wandering for 40 more years, and afraid of dying in the wilderness.
--Fear multiplies. It multiplies fears. It multiplies rejection of God’s Word. It multiplies foolishness. The people decided to take the Promised Land, in spite of God’s warning against doing so. What they’d been too afraid to attempt with God on their side, suddenly, they thought they could do on their own.
--Fear relies on human strength and effort. Thus, fear defeats. The Israelites lost the battle.
On the other hand, Joshua and Caleb inherited the Promised Land. They again partook of grapes like the ones they’d toted into camp. God kept these men from plague and curse and death…and they lived to raise their children and grandchildren. Their families were preserved. They’d embraced God’s Word, and God embraced them. Unlike the destruction resulting from fear, faith in God always wins.
Tip/Tidbit: So how about you? Do you hesitate in the moment you’re presented with spiritual opportunity? Do you look at the giants through eyes of fear or do you see the land as already yours, ready to be possessed? Do you see the expanse of land to the N, S, E, & W, or do you see yourself surrounded by enemies? Do you find yourself arguing against possibilities and growing agitated with people who boldly proclaim faith, or are you the one stepping up with an instant “Yes!” to God’s plan and a fist-pump of spiritual thrill? Do you see the value of the spiritual opportunity, or is it something you’d rather consider at a more convenient time? When you think about conquest, do you grow fearful of the fight and head back to old habits, old familiar territory, or do you anticipate the victory ahead? Are your eyes on your human weaknesses, or do you have a clear view of God’s abundant power? How you approach the promises of God He has set before you will determine if you circle the mountain until you die a spiritual death or if you claim the mountain and possess the land.