I continued my reading in Numbers last week so that’s where my Monday School comes from today. See the Monday School page to find out more.
Moses’ authority was challenged by his own brother and sister in Chapter 12 and Chapters 13 through 14 recounts more complaining and an all out rebellion of the people of God.
God told Moses to send spies to check out the good land of Canaan which He was giving them. Moses wanted to know a few things about the Promised Land. What was the land like? How many people are there and are they strong or weak? Are there trees on the land?
Besides confirming all the good things about the land, I’m certain Moses expected to receive information to help him and the other leaders develop a strategy to occupy it.
The report from the spies began well. They admitted the land flowed with milk and honey, but the report focused on the strong people who lived there and the large fortified cities. Caleb spoke up and reassured the people the land could be taken but this only made the other spies exaggerate their report even more. Of the people who inhabited the land the other spies said, “We seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes, and we looked the same to them.”
Again, Caleb with Joshua, pleaded with the people:
“The land we passed through and explored is exceedingly good. If the Lord is pleased with us, he will lead us into that land, a land flowing with milk and honey, and will give it to us. Only do not rebel against the Lord. And do not be afraid of the people of the land, because we will devour them. Their protection is gone, but the Lord is with us. Do not be afraid of them.” Numbers 14:7-9
The people were so fearful……..so angry at the leaders for bringing them out of Egypt…………..so convinced that what God promised wasn’t true………hysteria took over and they wanted to murder Caleb and Joshua.
Ten of the twelve spies came back from the 40 day assignment convinced there was no way the land could be taken. The other two were more certain than ever of God’s promises. It makes me wonder. Did the spies stay together on their undercover journey? Or did they separate into smaller groups to explore the land? What did the spies talk about during all those late night dinners around the campfire? Did each of them know what the others thought? What did Joshua and Caleb see that the other ten didn’t?
God pointed out the difference between Caleb and Joshua and the rest. First in Numbers 14 then in chapter 32:
“But because my servant Caleb has a different spirit and follows me wholeheartedly, I will bring him into the land he went to, and his descendants will inherit it.” Verse 24
‘Because they have not followed me wholeheartedly, not one of those who were twenty years old or more when they came up out of Egypt will see the land I promised on oath to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob— not one except Caleb and Joshua, for they followed the Lord wholeheartedly.’ Verses 11-12
Caleb and Joshua saw the same land and the same people as the other spies, but their hearts made them see with eyes of faith.
The ten spies saw the fortified cities. Caleb and Joshua saw the land God promised His people. The ten saw how big the people were and saw themselves as grasshoppers. Caleb and Joshua remembered the promises, remembered the miracles and deliverance, and saw themselves as God’s chosen ones.
Caleb and Joshua followed God wholeheartedly. It’s always about the heart.
Long after Caleb and Joshua, when the teachers of the law asked Jesus which commandment was the most important – this was his answer:
“And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ Mark 12:30 ESV
I like this version of the verse because it sounds like a promise too.
Maybe we love more and more wholeheartedly as we continue our journeys and grow in the knowledge of who He is. Maybe we love God in proportion to our understanding of His love for us…….and our faith grows as our love grows.
Then let us ask for understanding.