Twelve Men Are Sent
1The Lord said to Moses, 2“Choose a leader from each tribe and send them into Canaan to explore the land I am giving you.”
3So Moses sent twelve tribal leaders from Israel's camp in the Paran Desert
17Before Moses sent them into Canaan, he said:
After you go through the Southern Desert of Canaan, continue north into the hill country 18and find out what those regions are like. Be sure to remember how many people live there, how strong they are, 19-20and if they live in open towns or walled cities. See if the land is good for growing crops and find out what kinds of trees grow there. It's time for grapes to ripen, so try to bring back some of the fruit that grows there.
21The twelve men left to explore Canaan from the Zin Desert in the south all the way to the town of Rehob near Lebo-Hamath in the north. 22As they went through the Southern Desert, they came to the town of Hebron, which was seven years older than the Egyptian town of Zoan. In Hebron, they saw the three Anakim clans of Ahiman, Sheshai, and Talmai. 23-24When they got to Bunch Valley, they cut off a branch with such a huge bunch of grapes, that it took two men to carry it on a pole. That's why the place was called Bunch Valley. Along with the grapes, they also took back pomegranates and figs.
The Men Report Back
25After exploring the land of Canaan for 40 days, 26the twelve men returned to Kadesh in the Paran Desert and told Moses, Aaron, and the people what they had seen. They showed them the fruit 27and said:
Look at this fruit! The land we explored is rich with milk and honey. 28But the people who live there are strong, and their cities are large and walled. We even saw the three Anakim clans. 29Besides that, the Amalekites live in the Southern Desert; the Hittites, Jebusites, and Amorites are in the hill country; and the Canaanites live along the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River.
30Caleb calmed down the crowd and said, “Let's go and take the land. I know we can do it!”
31But the other men replied, “Those people are much too strong for us.” 32Then they started spreading rumors and saying, “We won't be able to grow anything in that soil. And the people are like giants. 33 In fact, we saw the Nephilim who are the ancestors of the Anakim. They were so big that we felt as small as grasshoppers.”
Have you ever obediently embarked on a mission for God and then had it turn out badly? In this story the Israelites obediently send out twelve leaders on a reconnaissance mission to the Promised Land to find out about the residents (how strong they and their defenses are) and how good the land is.
The spies return from their mission and they have made all the right observations. The land is exceedingly fruitful and the people and their cities are large and strong. There is unanimous agreement among all twelve spies on this account. It is in the conclusions drawn from the report that we see a divergence of opinion. Ten believe that the residents of the land “are like giants” (“and we felt as small as grasshoppers”) and are “much too strong for us” (v 31). On the other hand Caleb and Joshua urge the people “to go up and take the land.”Two spies know that “we can do it”, ten are convinced that the giants are too large.
How many times has fear paralyzed me in my journey of faith? And has it led me to twist my conclusions? Notice how the ten spies report (in a fit of desperation) that nothing will grow in the soil, when they had just brought news of the grapes, pomegranates and figs aplenty! They believed the giants of the land would kill them all anyway. How is my own feeling of “smallness” in the face of giants shifting my focus away from the “bigness” of my mission commander, leading me to the wrong conclusions and paralyzing my walk with him?
Father, you are faithful and strong, you are Lord of the giants in my life and my world. Help me to see the obstacles and the possibilities as you see them and deliver me from my fear and feeling of smallness. Help me rest in your power and move forward by faith in obedience, in Jesus’ name, Amen.