Spying Out the Land

Following the Exodus, we find the account of the Israelites spying out the promised land. (Num. 13:1-33) God instructed Moses to select leaders from each of the twelve tribes to search the land of Canaan. Moses instructed them to assess the people and the land which God was giving them. They were told to see if the people were strong, numerous, and if they lived in fortified cities. They were also instructed to explore the land to see if it was good, fertile, and had abundant trees.

God promised Israel that he would give them this land. They spied out the land all the way to the far north near Mt. Hermon. The twelve spies collected a cluster of grapes that took two men to carry. Truly, this was the land of milk and honey that God had promised them.

When the spies returned after forty days, ten of them told the Israelites that the occupants of the land were numerous, of great stature, and lived in fortified cities. But Joshua and Caleb, the two remaining spies, gave a good report saying the land was bountiful and that God would deliver it to them.

The ten spies responded, “We be not able to go up against the people; for they are stronger than we. And they brought up an evil report of the land which they had searched unto the children of Israel.” (Num. 13:31,32) This stirred the people against God to the point where they cried out that it would have been better if they had been left in Egypt.—Num. 14:1-9

God was so angered that the ten spies stirred up the people, he caused the Israelites to wander the wilderness for forty years, a year for each day that the spies had spent spying out the promised land. In addition, any over the age of twenty, would die in the wilderness and would not be allowed to enter the promised land.—Num. 14:28-35

Joshua and Caleb, because of their faithfulness, led the people into the promised land forty years later. (Num. 14:30) This experience teaches us the importance of walking by faith. Only when we rest in the Lord, will we be delivered by God into his promised land. This account also illustrates God will fulfill every promise that he makes to those who faithfully follow him.

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