Moses led the Israelite people to the borders of the Promised Land and now the Lord spoke to him and told Moses to send spies into Canaan to search out the land. It is unfortunate that all but two of the spies came back and displayed a lack of faith and trust in the promises of God’s Word. For this reason though they were on the border they would linger there for forty years until a new generation of Israelites were born and went forward in faith in their God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
It was not the Lord’s desire that the land be spied out but the people of Israel. It was they who wanted to know what lie before them and the Lord allowed it. It was the purpose of the Lord for His people to go and take what He had promised them. (Deuteronomy 1:20-25) The Lord commanded Moses to allow the spies to go forth and learn of the land before conquering it. But when the spies came back their hearts were faint and would not go.
These men who went to spy out the land were leaders from each tribe. They were not the leaders from the census of chapters 1, 2, 7 and 10, but were the younger leaders of the tribes. Walking throughout the land of Canaan would have been very tedious and the older men would not have been as agile. They would not have been able to walk the long distances.
Of the twelve only two would eventually enter into the Promised Land, Joshua and Caleb. Only Joshua and Caleb had the faith to trust God that the conquest of Canaan would be accomplished according to the promise of God. It was Joshua who would be the leader of the Israelite people after the death of Moses. His name was Hoshea, which means God saves but Moses changed his name to Y’shua which means the Lord saves. This new name that Moses gave him includes part of the name of the Lord, Yahweh. (Exodus 6:3) In Exodus the Lord identifies Himself as Jehovah or Yehovah
The Lord gave instructions for the things that the spies were to learn of the land of Canaan. They were to lean how many people lived there and the strength of the people. This would tell them their need of their preparation necessary for battle. They also were to learn of the tress in the land as the wood would be useful for building. Other kinds of trees produced oils that would be useful for commerce.
It was also the time of the year that the fruits would be ripe. Such as the grapes and figs which tell us that the time of the year was near the end of the summer.
The 12 spies traveled through the land from the south to the north and visited a city called Hebron. It was here in this city that the graves of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob were. But the spies made no mention of this and only reported that the people there were very tall. They compared the city of Hebron with an Egyptian city named Zoan. Possible because they noted that there were many strong buildings in Hebron.
The spies also took note of the soil of Canaan and found it to be very good for raising crops. They even brought back a large bunch of grapes to show as proof. It truly was a land of milk and honey.
The 12 spies returned and gave a report to Moses of the Promised Land. They began their report with the good news of the land of Canaan. They told of the good soil and showed the grapes that it produced and also some figs. It was a land that would produce good crops for the Israelite people.
Then they spoke of the negative things about the Promised Land. They told of how the people were strong and powerful. Of how the building were also very strong. These powerful people had strong buildings to protect them from attack. They also spoke of the different groups of people who lived in the land. All of this was true but their intentions were wrong in their testimony. Their testimony was in opposition to the promise of God that even as the land was good they would be unable to conquer it. They were advising Moses that they should not enter into the land of Canaan. They did not want to trust God that He would give them the land and were persuading the people not to obey God’s Word.
Now we see that the sin of the Israelites was becoming worse as time was passing along. In chapter 11 they had become a greedy people and in chapter 12 Miriam and Arron who spoke badly against Moses. Not in chapter 13 we see that the people no longer wanted to obey God. Now standing at the border of the Promised Land that God had given them they were refusing to accept His gift and obey His word.
Caleb one of the twelve did encourage the people to enter into the Promised Land. He was a humble man and trusted God at His word that He would give the land to the Israelite people. He believed that with their God all things were possible. The others had said bad things about the Promised Land that the land seemed to eat its inhabitants. A statement meaning that the land was a difficult and hazardous place. The others also told of the land being inhabited by the Nephilim who were giant people from the time before the great flood. (Genesis 6:4) This frightened the people even more as they felt very small and they forgot that their God was bigger than any of their problems.
When the problems of live come upon us it is easy for us to forget about the power of the God we serve and become afraid. We need, as the Israelites should have, remember that we serve a God that will care for us in the economy of His provision. We must believe and have faith that God will provide for our needs. We must be as Caleb and trust God and obey Him always.