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" Numbers 13:31-33.
They departed and went to the mountain, and stayed there three days until the pursuers returned. The pursuers sought them all along the way, but did not find them. So the two men returned, descended from the mountain, and crossed over; and they came to Joshua the son of Nun, and told him all that had befallen them. And they said to Joshua, "Truly the LORD has delivered all the land into our hands, for indeed all the inhabitants of the country are fainthearted because of us" (Joshua 2:22-24).
Two spy stories—two different reports. I’m sure you are all familiar with both stories. The first did not go too well. If fact, it was disastrous. Instead of heading into the promised land after two years of traveling, the Israelites wandered for 40 years until that generation died. How sad.
The first set of spies were telling the truth:
- The Cannanites were stronger
- Their cities were walled
- Some of the people were giants
They reported what they had seen, and even though Caleb and Joshua told a different story, the other ten were able to sway the multitude. In Numbers 14, we read that they were ready to head back to Egypt once again. So they said to one another, “Let us select a leader and return to Egypt” (v. 4). Moses and Aaron are on their faces before the assembly. Joshua and Caleb plead once more, but it is of no use. By verse ten, they are gathering stones to stone their leaders. You know the rest of the story.
Spy group number 2 enter the promised land once again. The wandering is over. They are on the brink of ending this 40-year wandering. Moses, Miriam, and Aaron are all dead. Joshua is now the leader. After a harrowing, life-threatening experience, they return to Joshua with a different story:
And they said to Joshua, "Truly the LORD has delivered all the land into our hands, for indeed all the inhabitants of the country are fainthearted because of us” (Joshua 2:24).
We can make all the excuses we want for the 12 spies, but the bottom line is that they did not believe that God would give them the land He had promised.
Do you believe that God keeps His promises? According to some studies, there are over 7,000 promises in God’s Word, and He WILL keep every one of them. (BTW, some of them are curses on the unbelieving and wicked. YIKES—a good reason to keep busy sharing the Good News!) It is a good exercise to study out the attributes of God. Certainly, one of them would be that His is the original Promise Keeper! In the hearts of the two spies, the deal was already sealed—they were just double-checking the circumstances for Joshua, their leader. And even though their lives were threatened, God delivered them. They did not enter the camp and see that all the inhabitants were dead, which is what God did for Hezekiah (2 Kings 19:35). They had to hide, trust a harlot, leave the city through a window and a cord, and hide out for 3 days!
What are you facing that seems impossible? Whether great or small, God sees it all! He plans it all, and He WILL give you the strength you need when YOUR strength or wisdom or understanding gives out. Can you rest in Him? At times it’s a tall order, but, may I say, those are the times when we truly experience “Amazing Grace!”
But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him (Hebrews 11:6).