June 9, 2010

Examining The Scripture XXII: Spy vs. Spy

Numbers 13 and the assembly of twelve spies [Hbw: מרגלים‎, meraglim] put together by Moses to scout out the land of Canaan. We see that representatives are send from every tribe of Israel, twelve in all. The only two men from the first generation's exile that would eventually enter the Promised Land were included in this assembly of spies, Joshua and Caleb. Not only would they enter but he would do so with the blessings of Moses and the Almighty God due to their steadfast faith in the Lord. Joshua himself would be the spiritual and military leader also. The only tribe not accounted for in this scouting expedition is the Levites. This is because this expedition was to look/scout the “land of Canaan” that God was giving the Israelites. The Levites didn’t get land directly, they were allotted no claims.

Some of the things they found were responses to originally posed questions and directives to gain intelligence by Moses.

See what the land is like and whether the people who live there are strong or weak, few or many. What kind of land do they live in? Is it good or bad? What kind of towns do they live in? Are they unwalled or fortified? How is the soil? Is it fertile or poor? Are there trees on it or not? Do your best to bring back some of the fruit of the land." (It was the season for the first ripe grapes.) ~Numbers 13:18-20

Depending on whom you asked from the scouting party you may have gotten different answers from different points of view, the faithful view and the faithless view. Both agreed on two points. The land was a land of abundance and the land was occupied by others. It was fertile (good) soil/land as evidenced by the grapes, pomegranates & figs from the Valley of Eshcol. They found a land “flowing with milk and honey” or a land of abundance. There were “powerful” but not undefeatable people who lived there, some in large fortified cities. The land was populated with the descendants of Anak and a myriad of “___ites” in assorted areas. The positive was that this was clearly a land that God had promised Abraham and his descendants. The land “flowing with milk and honey” a land of abundance, but then the debrief to Moses continues but from two opinionated views. Joshua and Caleb view obstacles as surmountable and advocate taking the land. They figure God is on their side, who would dare to oppose them and if they did, the enemy would be crushed. They trusted God. I will add though that even Joshua wasn't as quick and "wholehearted" as Caleb was to drive home the point that with God they could take the land. We see Caleb give his dissertation in Numbers 13:30 and it isn't until Numbers 14:6-8 that we see a definitive backing of Caleb by Joshua. This in no way means that Joshua was with the dissenters it just means the Caleb was fully for the Lord and had a greater zeal for Him.

The dissenting group viewed themselves grasshoppers compared to the inhabitants of the land of Canaan (and had about as much faith [unbelief] as a grasshopper too).

"We saw the Nephilim there (the descendants of Anak come from the Nephilim). We seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes, and we looked the same to them." Numbers 13:33

The the dissenting group of the scouting party take the opposite view. Instead of minor obstacles they see insurmountable ones. The difference between these two groups is faith or lack of it. The group of scouts outside of Caleb and Joshua made the “negatives” much more “negative” than they needed to be.

How often do we do this in our walk? Once a year? Once a month? Day? Multiple times a day? This was a really big issue for the Israelites, sending and entire nation into and unknown and the ones that were rewarded were the ones that trust in the Lord by advocating sending people into a unknown land. How about us today? Do we trust God like this? Do we tithe before the paycheck comes in? Do we trust that God will provide for us in times of need? Or do we bail at the first cloud on the horizon. Bail the minute we hit resistance or rough seas? God made people that may have had the same faith we have today wander a desert for 40 years. How about you? Are you a grasshopper?

God wants to give you something wonderful. Are you ready to take it? It only requires faith but for some that is a lot to ask.

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