Israel was at the edge of Canaan, the promised land. Egyptian slavery was behind them. Freedom was before them. All they had to do was walk in.
But they hesitated.
God commanded them to go in. He promised them victory and protection. But Israel wanted to see things for themselves.
They wanted a contingency plan.
So they sent spies.
Twelve of them.
And when those spies came back, they gave a mixed report.
On the one hand, they admitted Canaan was a bountiful paradise:
We went to the land where you sent us. It truly flows with milk and honey, and this is its fruit (Num 13:27).
On the other hand, it was filled with scary people:
Nevertheless the people who dwell in the land are strong; the cities are fortified and very large; moreover we saw the descendants of Anak there. The Amalekites dwell in the land of the South; the Hittites, the Jebusites, and the Amorites dwell in the mountains; and the Canaanites dwell by the sea and along the banks of the Jordan (Num 13:28-29).
Two of the spies—Caleb and Joshua—were not discouraged. They saw the same dangers and challenges as the other ten but had a different perspective on the matter. They believed God would do what He promised—bring Israel the victory, no matter what the odds. So they wanted to enter the land:
Then Caleb quieted the people before Moses, and said, “Let us go up at once and take possession, for we are well able to overcome it (Num 13:30).
But the other ten spies disagreed. They were too scared to go in. Why? They were not counting on God to keep His promises. Instead, they were relying on their own strengths and abilities. Consequently, they knew they could not win against the giants they saw:
But 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.” And they gave the children of Israel a bad report of the land which they had spied out, saying, “The land through which we have gone as spies is a land that devours its inhabitants, and all the people whom we saw in it are men of great stature. There we saw the giants (the descendants of Anak came from the giants); and we were like grasshoppers in our own sight, and so we were in their sight” (Num 13:31-33).
Ten out of twelves spies voted not to go in.
And they won the day.
Israel turned their backs on paradise and marched right back into the wilderness. And as punishment, that’s where they died.
Did you know that majorities are often wrong?
Fake news has been around for as long as there’s been news. And it’s often the minority report that turns out to be right, especially when it comes to believing God.
The twelve spies teach us an important lesson. When the majority runs on fear, you should walk by faith in the promises of God, even if you end up walking alone.