Numbers 13 - Faith Over Fear
1And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, 2Send thou men, that they may search the land of Canaan, which I give unto the children of Israel: of every tribe of their fathers shall ye send a man, every one a ruler among them. 3And Moses by the commandment of the LORD sent them from the wilderness of Paran: all those men were heads of the children of Israel. 4And these were their names: of the tribe of Reuben, Shammua the son of Zaccur. 5Of the tribe of Simeon, Shaphat the son of Hori. 6Of the tribe of Judah, Caleb the son of Jephunneh. 7Of the tribe of Issachar, Igal the son of Joseph. 8Of the tribe of Ephraim, Oshea the son of Nun. 9Of the tribe of Benjamin, Palti the son of Raphu. 10Of the tribe of Zebulun, Gaddiel the son of Sodi. 11Of the tribe of Joseph, namely, of the tribe of Manasseh, Gaddi the son of Susi. 12Of the tribe of Dan, Ammiel the son of Gemalli. 13Of the tribe of Asher, Sethur the son of Michael. 14Of the tribe of Naphtali, Nahbi the son of Vophsi. 15Of the tribe of Gad, Geuel the son of Machi. 16These are the names of the men which Moses sent to spy out the land. And Moses called Oshea the son of Nun Jehoshua. 17And Moses sent them to spy out the land of Canaan, and said unto them, Get you up this way southward, and go up into the mountain: 18And see the land, what it is, and the people that dwelleth therein, whether they be strong or weak, few or many; 19And what the land is that they dwell in, whether it be good or bad; and what cities they be that they dwell in, whether in tents, or in strong holds; 20And what the land is, whether it be fat or lean, whether there be wood therein, or not. And be ye of good courage, and bring of the fruit of the land. Now the time was the time of the firstripe grapes. 21So they went up, and searched the land from the wilderness of Zin unto Rehob, as men come to Hamath. 22And they ascended by the south, and came unto Hebron; where Ahiman, Sheshai, and Talmai, the children of Anak, were. (Now Hebron was built seven years before Zoan in Egypt.) 23And they came unto the brook of Eshcol, and cut down from thence a branch with one cluster of grapes, and they bare it between two upon a staff; and they brought of the pomegranates, and of the figs. 24The place was called the brook Eshcol, because of the cluster of grapes which the children of Israel cut down from thence. 25And they returned from searching of the land after forty days. 26And they went and came to Moses, and to Aaron, and to all the congregation of the children of Israel, unto the wilderness of Paran, to Kadesh; and brought back word unto them, and unto all the congregation, and shewed them the fruit of the land. 27And they told him, and said, We came unto the land whither thou sentest us, and surely it floweth with milk and honey; and this is the fruit of it. 28Nevertheless the people be strong that dwell in the land, and the cities are walled, and very great: and moreover we saw the children of Anak there. 29The Amalekites dwell in the land of the south: and the Hittites, and the Jebusites, and the Amorites, dwell in the mountains: and the Canaanites dwell by the sea, and by the coast of Jordan. 30And Caleb stilled the people before Moses, and said, Let us go up at once, and possess it; for we are well able to overcome it. 31But the men that went up with him said, We be not able to go up against the people; for they are stronger than we. 32And they brought up an evil report of the land which they had searched unto the children of Israel, saying, The land, through which we have gone to search it, is a land that eateth up the inhabitants thereof; and all the people that we saw in it are men of a great stature. 33And there we saw the giants, the sons of Anak, which come of the giants: and we were in our own sight as grasshoppers, and so we were in their sight.
Today's Scripture Meaning
Twelve men sent to search the land of Canaan, Their instructions. (1-20) Their proceedings. (21-25) Their account of the land. (26-33) Verses 1-20: A memorable and melancholy history is related in this and the following chapter, of the turning back of Israel from the borders of Canaan, and the sentencing them to wander and perish in the wilderness, for their unbelief and murmuring. It appears, (De 1:22), that the motion to search out the land came from the people. They had a better opinion of their own policy than of God's wisdom. Thus we ruin ourselves by believing the reports and representations of sense rather than Divine revelation. We walk by sight not by faith. Moses gave the spies this charge, Be of good courage. It was not only a great undertaking they were put upon, which required good management and resolution; but a great trust was reposed in them, which required that they should be faithful. Courage in such circumstances can only spring from strong faith, which Caleb and Joshua alone possessed. Verses 21-25: The searchers of the land brought a bunch of grapes with them, and other fruits, as proofs of the goodness of the country; which was to Israel both the earnest and the specimen of all the fruits of Canaan. Such are the present comforts we have in communion with God, foretastes of the fulness of joy we expect in the heavenly Canaan. We may see by them what heaven is. Verses 26-33: We may wonder that the people of Israel staid forty days for the return of their spies, when they were ready to enter Canaan, under all the assurances of success they could have from the Divine power, and the miracles that had hitherto attended them. But they distrusted God's power and promise. How much we stand in our own light by our unbelief! At length the messengers returned; but the greater part discouraged the people from going forward to Canaan. Justly are the Israelites left to this temptation, for putting confidence in the judgment of men, when they had the word of God to trust in. Though they had found the land as good as God had said, yet they would not believe it to be as sure as he had said, but despaired of having it, though Eternal Truth had engaged it to them. This was the representation of the evil spies. Caleb, however, encouraged them to go forward, though seconded by Joshua only. He does not say, Let us go up and conquer it; but, Let us go and possess it. Difficulties that are in the way of salvation, dwindle and vanish before a lively, active faith in the power and promise of God. All things are possible, if they are promised, to him that believes; but carnal sense and carnal professors are not to be trusted. Unbelief overlooks the promises and power of God, magnifies every danger and difficulty, and fills the heart with discouragement. May the Lord help us to believe! we shall then find all things possible.
Today's Scripture Application
Each day we walk through the Bible chapter by chapter making an application of our text to help us grow in the Lord. Many applications can be made from each day's text. Today we continue the book of Numbers with Chapter 13 and in today's text we see the spies are sent out to view Canaan. Their report was one of great land flowing with milk and honey but 10 of the 12 lacked faith to proceed with this land the Lord Promised. In making application Canaan is picture of the victorious Christian life and this life is attained when we exercise faith in what the Lord has promised. We can act in fear when we face difficult decisions and not walk in victory or we can walk by faith and receive that which the Lord has promised. A victorious Christian life. How about you? Are you walking by faith or reacting in fear? Let us learn from our text today and see what the Lord has promised for us, then walk in victory by faith.
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Sincerely, Dr. David Burnette
Director, The United States Bible Society, Inc.