In this study we will look into the account of the 12 scouts sent into the Promised Land.
I will use Scripture taken from the Amplified Bible (copyright - The Lockman Foundation) for our study.
I want to set the background for our study. Remember that God has led the Israelites out of bondage in Egypt, with His mighty power. Leading them during the day by a Pillar of Cloud and at night by a Pillar of Fire. A marvelous revelation of His mighty power! He never left them day or night.
God had parted the waters of the Red Sea, drying the seabed with a strong wind. He led all the Israelites through safely, right between the waters piled high on each side. Then as the Egyptian army racing after them in chariots, were all in the midst of the seabed, He allowed the waters to return to normal. The entire army of Pharaoh was drowned. A miraculous deliverance from a certain death!
During their exodus, God provided manna each day for them to eat, as well as water for them to drink. Astounding proof of His faithful provision!
God led them to Mount Sinai and there gave them the Law, called the Ten Commandments. Giving the Israelites a moral and righteous code for a wholesome foundation!
God was faithful to them as they traveled from Egypt to the Promised Land. Now, as we begin our bible study, we find them at the border of Canaan, the Promised Land.
Please turn in your bibles to the book of Numbers 13:
Numbers 13:1 And the Lord said to Moses,
Numbers 13:2 Send men to explore and scout out [for yourselves] the land of Canaan, which I give to the Israelites. From each tribe of their fathers you shall send a man, every one a leader or head among them.
Numbers 13:3 So Moses by the command of the Lord sent scouts from the Wilderness of Paran, all of them men who were heads of the Israelites.
Scouts were chosen to represent the people. These men were to go into the Promised Land and see for themselves what awaited them there.
They were to bring back a report to all the people about the land that God had led them to. This was the Holy Land that was to become their very own possession from God.
Question – How do you think the people felt, as they waited for the scouts to return?
Remember they had never possessed their own land. They had spent all of their lives in service, in bondage as laborers to the Egyptian people. Can you imagine the excitement felt by the people, to have a land of their own? To work for their own benefit instead of working as slaves?
Okay.. let’s go on:
Numbers 13:17 Moses sent them to scout out the land of Canaan, and said to them, Get up this way by the South (the Negeb) and go up into the hill country,
Numbers 13:18 And see what the land is and whether the people who dwell there are strong or weak, few or many,
Numbers 13:19 And whether the land they live in is good or bad, and whether the cities they dwell in are camps or strongholds,
Numbers 13:20 And what the land is, whether it is fat or lean, whether there is timber on it or not. And be of good courage and bring some of the fruit of the land. Now the time was the time of the first ripe grapes.
Moses gives them their instructions. Scout out these things and come back with your report. So away they go, spies going into an unknown land.
Numbers 13:21 So they went up and scouted through the land from the Wilderness of Zin to Rehob, to the entrance of Hamath.
Numbers 13:22 And then went up into the South (the Negeb) and came to Hebron; and Ahiman, Sheshai, and Talmai [probably three tribes of] the sons of Anak were there. (Hebron was built seven years before Zoan in Egypt.)
Numbers 13:23 And they came to the Valley of Eshcol, and cut down from there a branch with one cluster of grapes, and they carried it on a pole between two [of them]; they brought also some pomegranates and figs.
Numbers 13:24 That place was called the Valley of Eshcol [cluster] because of the cluster which the Israelites cut down there.
Numbers 13:25 And they returned from scouting out the land after forty days.
As we can see, the scouts went in all directions. They did a thorough job of spying out the land. They even brought back a huge cluster of grapes which they carried on a pole between two of them. They also found some figs and pomegranates.
Question – How long did the scouting party spend checking out the Promised Land?
Forty days. Does that seem like a long time to you?
It does to me.. and I wonder, what all the people remaining with Moses did during all that time?
Do you suppose the Lord provided manna each day during those additional forty days?
Do you think the scouts were given manna each day during that time too?
I don’t have the answers.. but it’s interesting to think about. Maybe we can ask the Lord one day.
Okay, the scouts have returned to Moses and the Israelite's with their report.
Numbers 13:26 They came to Moses and Aaron and to all the Israelite congregation in the Wilderness of Paran at Kadesh, and brought them word, and showed them the land's fruit.
Numbers 13:27 They told Moses, We came to the land to which you sent us; surely it flows with milk and honey. This is its fruit.
Numbers 13:28 But the people who dwell there are strong, and the cities are fortified and very large; moreover, there we saw the sons of Anak [of great stature and courage].
Numbers 13:29 Amalek dwells in the land of the South (the Negeb); the Hittite, the Jebusite, and the Amorite dwell in the hill country; and the Canaanite dwells by the sea and along by the side of the Jordan [River].
The scouts give their report to Moses and all the people. They showed the fruit they had found.
Question – Do you notice something about what they said as they reported to Moses? Something that indicated their frame of mind?
Look in verse 27.. do you see it?
“We came to the land to which you sent us…”
Question – What does this indicate about their frame of mind?
Remember these men were leaders of each of the 12 tribes of Israel.
They are now, not thinking about how the Lord had guided them day and night to this Promised Land. They were not thinking about how God had provided food and water for them every step of the way. They were not thinking about how God had chosen Moses to lead them.
How could this have happened? Had they all taken their eyes off of the Lord?
Have you ever started out on a mission for the Lord, but after a while kind of forgotten the true reason for doing it? Loosing your desire and zeal, maybe even complaining or grumbling about doing it?
Numbers 13:30 Caleb quieted the people before Moses, and said, Let us go up at once and possess it; we are well able to conquer it.
Caleb, who was one of the scouts chosen, takes this opportunity to speak to all the people. He is saying something entirely different. He quiets the people… and says “we can possess the land, we are well able to conquer it.”
Question – How do you think his speech was received?
Numbers 13:31 But his fellow scouts said, We are not able to go up against the people [of Canaan], for they are stronger than we are.
Numbers 13:32 So they brought the Israelites an evil report of the land which they had scouted out, saying, The land through which we went to spy it out is a land that devours its inhabitants. And all the people that we saw in it are men of great stature.
Numbers 13:33 There we saw the Nephilim [or giants], the sons of Anak, who come from the giants; and we were in our own sight as grasshoppers, and so we were in their sight.
Now the other scouts jump back into the forefront to diminish Caleb’s speech. The report becomes a bit different now.
Question – How is their report different than it was before?
Now we are told that ALL of the people in the land are of great stature. Is that the way the report sounded the first time?
The first time, they saw the sons of Anak there… along with all the other peoples of the land. Now the scouts claim they were like grasshoppers in their sight, and the land devours it’s inhabitants!
Question - Does this sound like an exaggeration to you?
When one scout reported in a different way than the others, the others came against the one.
Caleb has expressed a confident faith that this land can be conquered and possessed. It appears that Caleb has learned to trust in the Lord.
What did the other scouts do to his expression of faith?
They tried to discredit his report by exaggerating what they had seen.
How did the people respond to the report about the Land?
Numbers 14:1 And all the congregation cried out with a loud voice, and [they] wept that night.
Numbers 14:2 All the Israelites grumbled and deplored their situation, accusing Moses and Aaron, to whom the whole congregation said, Would that we had died in Egypt! Or that we had died in this wilderness!
Numbers 14:3 Why does the Lord bring us to this land to fall by the sword? Our wives and little ones will be a prey. Is it not better for us to return to Egypt?
The people wept that night. Then they grumbled. They felt sorry for themselves. They blamed Moses and Aaron. Finally they blamed the Lord and rejected Him, wanting to return to Egypt.
How could these people do this after all the Lord had done for them?
Numbers 14:6 And Joshua son of Nun and Caleb son of Jephunneh, who were among the scouts who had searched the land, rent their clothes,
Numbers 14:7 And they said to all the company of Israelites, The land through which we passed as scouts is an exceedingly good land.
Numbers 14:8 If the Lord delights in us, then He will bring us into this land and give it to us, a land flowing with milk and honey.
Numbers 14:9 Only do not rebel against the Lord, neither fear the people of the land, for they are bread for us. Their defense and the shadow [of protection] is removed from over them, but the Lord is with us. Fear them not.
Now, Joshua joins with Caleb and they both try to convince the people that the Land is good. They declare that the Lord is able to give the land to them. They plead with the people to not rebel against the Lord.
Question – How do the people respond to these two men?
Numbers 14:10 But all the congregation said to stone [Joshua and Caleb] with stones. But the glory of the Lord appeared at the Tent of Meeting before all the Israelites.
Can you believe it? All the people wanted to stone Caleb and Joshua to death. Two men, who are regarded as leaders; try to encourage and build up the people. For their efforts, they are turned on with savagery and hatred.
Numbers 14:11 And the Lord said to Moses, How long will this people provoke (spurn, despise) Me? And how long will it be before they believe Me [trusting in, relying on, clinging to Me], for all the signs which I have performed among them?
Question – How does the Lord respond to their behavior?
Numbers 14:22 Because all those men who have seen My glory and My [miraculous] signs which I performed in Egypt and in the wilderness, yet have tested and proved Me these ten times and have not heeded My voice,
Numbers 14:23 Surely they shall not see the land which I swore to give to their fathers; nor shall any who provoked (spurned, despised) Me see it.
Numbers 14:24 But My servant Caleb, because he has a different spirit and has followed Me fully, I will bring into the land into which he went, and his descendants shall possess it.
Numbers 14:28 Tell them, As I live, says the Lord, what you have said in My hearing I will do to you:
Numbers 14:29 Your dead bodies shall fall in this wilderness--of all who were numbered of you, from twenty years old and upward, who have murmured against Me,
Numbers 14:30 Surely none shall come into the land in which I swore to make you dwell, except Caleb son of Jephunneh and Joshua son of Nun.
Numbers 14:31 But your little ones whom you said would be a prey, them will I bring in and they shall know the land which you have despised and rejected.
Numbers 14:32 But as for you, your dead bodies shall fall in this wilderness.
Numbers 14:33 And your children shall be wanderers and shepherds in the wilderness for forty years and shall suffer for your whoredoms (your infidelity to your espoused God), until your corpses are consumed in the wilderness.
Numbers 14:34 After the number of the days in which you spied out the land [of Canaan], even forty days, for each day a year shall you bear and suffer for your iniquities, even for forty years, and you shall know My displeasure [the revoking of My promise and My estrangement].
Numbers 14:35 I the Lord have spoken; surely this will I do to all this evil congregation who is gathered together against Me. In this wilderness they shall be consumed [by war, disease, plagues], and here they shall die.
Even after all the miracles and signs shown to the people, they rebelled against God. They had seen every day the faithfulness of the Lord. The mighty way He protected them and provided for them every step of the way. Still the people refused to trust the Lord. They had been led to a land that would be given to them. They failed to trust the Lord and wanted to go back to Egypt. The very place they had cried out from in bitter bondage.
God had chosen this people to be His own, out of all the peoples of the world. Now they rejected Him. The purpose God had chosen the Israelites to fulfill still remained, but many of these people would never be willing to carry out the destiny. God would not allow those unwilling to carry out His purpose, to continue on in a covenant relationship with Him.
Only Joshua and Caleb, out of that whole generation of Israelites, would enter the Promised Land. The rest of the people would wander in the wilderness for 40 years. One year for each day the scouts spent in the Promised Land. All of the people 20 years old and older would perish. Only the descendants of this generation would receive the covenant land promised to Abraham and his descendants.
Out of all the Israelites saved out of Egypt, only the remnant willing to be led by the Lord, would enter into the Promised Land.
Without faith, it is impossible to please the Lord. Faith means to trust Him and rely on Him.
I want to point out something else. Joshua and Caleb trusted God. But because of the refusal of the rest of the people to trust God, they too bore the consequences. Joshua and Caleb also had to wait the 40 years before they could enter the Promised Land. Sometimes another’s sin can cause us to suffer as well. The consequences of sin can impact the lives of others.
The scouts saw giants in the Land. The fear of those giants was greater than their trust in the Lord.
Is there a fear of “giants” in your life? A fear that is greater than your trust in the Lord? Do those “giants” prevent you from putting your complete trust in the Lord?
There are many things in life that can be perceived as a “giant” that is fearsome and impossible to overcome.
Are there times when you allow your five physical senses to override your faith in God?
Our senses can deceive us. God never will.
Are there people in your life that grumble and complain? Causing you to have diminished faith in the Lord? Get away from them!! They can bring destruction into your life.
Don’t let the lack of faith of others pull you down. Be a willing vessel that can be used by the Lord.
Think about this lesson recorded for us here in the Scriptures. It is there to provide an example for us of God’s Faithfulness. It is also there to show us the consequences of rebelling against and rejecting God.
Determine to trust God in every circumstance. HE is faithful, and can be trusted totally. Don’t let anyone tell you different.
May God bless you as you trust and rely on Him.
Bible Study by InAwe