Tag Archives: Promised Land

Spies in the 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. – Numbers 14:8

Text: Numbers 13:30-31;14:6-9

Summary: The return of the spies from Canaan shows the faith of Joshua and Caleb and explains why the children of Israel wandered forty years in the wilderness. God has given us a mission to spread the good news in every land.

glass of waterProp: a glass of water filled halfway

Look at this glass of water. Is it half empty? Or is it half full? I suppose your answer depends on your point of view. If you tend to think the worst of a situation, you might be negative and say half the water is used up. If you tend to be positive and think the best of a situation, you might say the glass is half full and could hold more. Our opinions tend to be either negative or positive depending on how we see our circumstances.

Today I want to tell you the story of how God sent spies into Canaan and what happened to them. First God delivered the children of Israel from slavery in Egypt and miraculously divided the Red Sea so they could escape the Egyptian army. Then God gave Moses the Ten Commandments on Mount Sinai. At last they were ready to enter the land promised to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob: the land of Canaan. As they were getting close, God told Moses to send twelve spies (one from each tribe) into the land and give a report of what they found. They searched in Canaan for 40 days. They saw a land that flowed with milk and honey. That means it had plenty of food, water, and rich soil that would be good for growing crops and raising animals. They also saw many different tribes of people that lived there, including some giants.

(Read text.)

The Return of the Spies
The Return of the Spies from the Land of Promise by Gustave Doré (1832-1883). Scan courtesy of The Doré Bible.

Ten spies gave an evil report and were afraid of the large men in the land, and felt as grasshoppers compared to the giants (Numbers 13:32-33). Joshua and Caleb were ready to follow God’s orders to enter the land, trusting God to protect them. They were full of faith and courage. All twelve spies saw the same things, but Joshua and Caleb were mindful of God’s presence with them. They were confident that God would lead them to victory over their enemies.

Because most of the people were unwilling to follow God’s plan, God was unhappy and punished them. God told Moses that none of the men over age 20 (except Joshua and Caleb*) would enter the Promised Land. God punished them by delaying their entry to Canaan by 40 years. That was a year of wandering in the wilderness for each day the spies had spent searching the land (Numbers 14:34). After 40 years all the disobedient people had died and only their children (which by then were grown) were able to enter Canaan under the leadership of Joshua. Joshua and Caleb were rewarded because they wholly followed the call of God (Joshua 14:8).

Although we are not spies, God has sent us on a mission to tell the good news of Jesus Christ in the world (Matthew 28:19-20). As we search the land we may see many enemies of the cross, but we should not be afraid. Jesus said, In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world. (John 16:33) Because we know that God is leading us, we can be confident to tell others about Jesus.

*This means only two out of about 600,000 men living then survived to enter Canaan!

©2001 by Jim Kerlin. All rights reserved.