Scripture: But Caleb quieted the people before Moses and said, “Let us go up at once and occupy it, for we are well able to overcome it.” Then the men who had gone up with him said, “We are not able to go up against the people, for they are stronger than we are.” Numbers 13:30-31 ESV
Observation: Once Miriam completed her quarantine outside the camp, the nation marched on toward the border of Canaan, encamping in the wilderness of Paran (12:15-16). At this juncture, the Lord commanded Moses to send spies to Canaan, one from each of the twelve tribes of Israel, including Caleb from the clan of Judah and Joshua representing Dan (13:1-16). Moses detailed that their scouting report should determine whether these foreigners were strong or weak, few or many, and whether they resided in camps or strongholds. Additionally, they were to ascertain whether the land was rich in produce and tree covers or not (13:17-20).
After their forty-day scouting mission into Canaan, the spies returned with a unanimous report that Canaan flowed with milk and honey (as Yahweh promised), bearing lush fruit as evidence. However, they presented conflicting counsel about the next step. Ten focused on the challenge: the might of those who occupied the land. Caleb and Joshua focused on the power of the One who had delivered them from Pharoah and had commanded them to go and take possession of the land. Sadly, the majority opinion would prevail. Consequently, Israel’s disobedience would delay entry for another forty years.
Takeaway: When the Holy Spirit leads us into enemy territory to expand his kingdom, we will fair better if we focus on the source of our strength, on the One who sits at the right hand of the throne of God in triumph over evil (Hebrews 12:2). After all, as the Apostle Paul notes, Christ’s power is perfected in our weaknesses (2 Corinthians 12:9). Conversely, if we focus on all that can go wrong, fear will get the better of us. For Israel, the fear-mongering of the ten would spread like cancer and incite rebellion (14:1-12). Instead of pressing through their doubts and fears and growing in their faith as they conquested the Promised Land, this generation would perish in a circuitous wilderness wandering. Only their children would be privileged to see their mighty God deliver their enemies into their hands against all odds.
Prayer: Father God, we thank you for your Son who faced our greatest enemy straight on and brought us victory over the sting of death. With his triumph fixed in eternity, would you please help us turn our attention toward Christ and resist our fears that we might take possession of the enemy’s strongholds for your glory and the growth of your kingdom? Amen.
Rev. Gordon Green, M.Div., M.A. Counseling