The Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “Send men to spy out the land of Canaan, which I am giving to the people of Israel…”
Numbers 13:1-2a (ESV)
Sunday schools are filled with colouring pages depicting a group of guys carrying really, really big grapes. Kids hear that the spies brought back a good report of the Promised Land. But what the kids don’t learn is what idiots the majority of these men were. They missed the point of their mission entirely.
God did not send out the spies to see if they could take the land, but to figure out how they were going to take the land. And it wasn’t even going to be a difficult task. When God spoke to Moses, He didn’t say that Israel would have to take the land, that they would have to fight for it, that it would be a struggle. God said, “the land of Canaan, which I am giving to the people of Israel.”
God had already gone ahead of Israel to make sure that they could easily inhabit the land. Every negative report was really a blessing in disguise:
- Walled cities – if each city was walled, we can assume they they were independent of each other, and not only independent of each other, but also mistrusting of each other. If they felt the need to wall their cities, it meant they were protecting themselves. If one city was attacked, it could be assumed that the next walled city over wouldn’t come to their aid. Israel could take one city at a time and none of the other cities would care.
- The land was filled with giants – if the land was really filled with giants, how did a dozen average-sized men wander around scouting the land for 40 days without being noticed? Frankly, I’d notice a dozen tiny people checking out my place. There were a few giants amidst a population of average people. Pastor Willie George of Church on the Move put it this way: say there are three giants in a certain area, if Israel split their army equally that would give a ratio of one giant for every 200,000 fighting men. If each man took a rock and threw it at the giant, even with a 98% miss rate, the giant would be unlikely to survive. We can assume the majority of the spies were wusses.
- The land devours its inhabitants – disease was already wiping out large portions of the population. Israel wouldn’t even have to fight. There were cities that were move-in ready. Since God had already given very specific instructions to the Israelites on how to deal with the sick and dying, disease in the Promised Land wasn’t going to be an issue.
With this new view of an old story, take a look at your own life. What are the things God has promised you that you have yet to take a hold of? Why haven’t you taken a hold of them? Are there really things that are preventing you from moving forward or has God already gone and prepared the way for you?
Daily Bible reading: Numbers 11-13, Mark 5:21-43