From Moses’ perspective, the directions were crystal clear. The promised land was theirs; they just needed a strategy for claiming it. Since there were twelve tribes of Israel, they would send one man from each tribe. Twelve “spies” who would scout out the land and lead the people in.
When the spies got there, the land was just as God said it would be. However there were a few unanticipated obstacles. The more they focused on those obstacles, the bigger they became. By the time the spies got back, the obstacles had grown to several times their original size.
They start by saying the people are big; and end up calling them giants. The cities go from being described as large to impermeable. The land goes from spacious to man eating (“It devours those living in it”). The spies transform from being human to looking like grasshoppers.
You can imagine how encouraging these words were to the people waiting to go in and take the land. You can hear their enthusiasm in their response:
“If only we had died in Egypt! Or in this desert! Why is The Lord bringing us to this land to let us fall by the sword? We should choose a leader and go back to Egypt”.
Only two spies stand alone in their conviction. Their names are Joshua and Caleb. Their report reveals what the land looks like when seen through the eyes of faith:
“The land we passed through and explored is exceedingly good. The Lord will lead us into that land. And do not be afraid of the people of the land because we will swallow them up. The Lord is with us.”
Fear moves us back to the known, even if the known is where we formerly longed to escape.
Faith allows us to move into the unknown. Even if we can’t see where we are going, we can trust the One leading us there.
What’s interesting about this story is what the spies believed ended up being what happened to them. And only two of them ended up entering the promised land. (I’m betting you can guess their names).
The rest never received what God intended them to have. This is the tragedy of letting fear win.
What might be the “land” God wants you to take?