SURRENDERING THE LAND OF PROMISE
INTRO: When the children of Israel were led forth from Egyptian captivity, they set their eyes on a land of promise. The bones of family and friends were carried from that land in search of a land they would call their own. This land was their destiny. It was to be similar to that parcel of land surrendered by Adam & Eve so many years ago. It was always God’s plan to bless His people.
Now the land of promise was within view. The Children of Israel had experienced many trials and troubles, but now they stand on the border of paradise. Moses has led them from captivity to this place. And now the word of the Lord comes to Moses saying “Send thou men, that they may search the land of Canaan, which I give unto the children of Israel” (13:2). Moses did as he was commanded, and sent 12 men—one man from every tribe of Israel—to scout out the land. In our text, we find their report. Notice first . . .
I. Their Property (v. 27).
This was a land literally flowing with milk and honey. Verse 23 also gives us insight into this land of promise. 14:7 adds to the report. This was as close to paradise one could get on this earth. Remember what I said a moment ago: It has always been God’s plan to bless His people. His desire is for His people to experience the best of His creation.
Since the fall, God has continually made provision for reconciliation with man. In the O.T. this was accomplished by an elaborate system of sacrifices. In the New Testament, reconciliation is brought about by the shed blood of Christ.
Now, to tie this in with our text, we find that the children of Israel— God’s people—were standing on the verge of the land of promise— the land of great blessing. All that could be hoped for lie just ahead. The end of famine, disease, battle, and captivity is seen just across the river.
Although God’s people were not there yet, the land was theirs. I don’t want you to miss that point. The land was theirs. You might say, “Pastor, I thought the scripture said the land belonged to the Amalekites, Hittites, Jebusites, Amorites and Canaanites.” No, these warring nations may have been occupying the land, but it was not theirs.
The land of promise belonged to the children of God. Canaan land may have been occupied by hostile forces, but it still belonged to God’s people.
How can I make that bold assertion? Because it is what God’s Word declares. Look at verse 1 & 2: “And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, Send thou men, that they may search the land of Canaan, which I give unto the children of Israel . . .”
How many of you believe that God says what He means and means what He says? He did not say “. . .which I will give unto the children of Israel. . .” He said “. . .which I give. . .” It was their land long before they stood at the river looking over into it.
God’s promise can be traced all the way back to Genesis 13:14-15. There may have been unwanted visitors—there may have been enemies occupying the land from time to time, but I want you to get this. This land belonged to the children of Israel. It was the land of promise—the promise coming from God Himself.
And so, we see first their land—it was a land of promise. It was a land of great blessing. All they had to do was go over and take possession of their blessings! And what wonderful blessings they were. The returning spies bore witness to that fact!
II. Their Peril (vv 28-29; 31-33).
The scouting report, while showing the blessings of the land, also pointed to seemingly insurmountable obstacles. The peril was a matter of perspective. They were looking at things with “earthly vision” rather than “kingdom glasses”. Instead of the promise, they were focusing on the peril. Instead of rallying to possess their possessions; they were retreating in fear. Look at their appraisal of the situation.
The people are strong. The cities are walled. There are warriors in the land. There are giants possessing the land. I want to call your attention to a telling statement found in verse 33. “. . .and we were in our own sight as grasshoppers . . .” They had a grasshopper mentality. They were full of doubt—full of fear—full of anguish. “We were grasshoppers in our own eyes.”
I wonder if we have any here this morning with grasshopper mentality? Notice what they said in verse 27: “. . .the land flows with milk and honey. . .” Now, in verse 28, we read “Nevertheless”. Know what they were saying? Yes this is a great land—a blessed land—a promised land, but the risks are too great! These statements betrayed their lack of confidence in the Lord.
I don’t believe that the Lord instructed Moses to send spies in the land to find out where the enemies were. We don’t find that anywhere in the Word. Moses is the one that instructed the spies to see what kind of people were in the land (vv. 17-19).
I believe God’s purpose was to encourage the children of Israel to go over and take possession of the land. The spies, however began to focus more on the peril than on the promise. Remember what I said earlier. The land of promise belonged to the children of God. Canaan land may have been occupied by hostile forces, but it still belonged to God’s people.
Yet, 10 of the 12 spies said the land could not be possessed. You talk about a majority! That’s 83%! They were ready to surrender the land of promise rather than claim their possession. They stood prepared to forfeit that which God had promised them. They operated on the wisdom of the flesh rather than the Word of the Almighty God! It made little difference to them that God had promised them this parcel of land. But not everyone felt that way. As we look at verse 30, we will find . . .
III. The Possession (v 30).
I realize it would be many years before the children of Israel would ultimately possess their possession, but there were 2 men who were ready to do it immediately. Numbers 13:30 tells us the response of Caleb. Numbers 14:7-8 adds Joshua’s testimony to that of Caleb.
The majority felt that possessing the land was an impossibility. The minority felt they should immediately go up and possess it. Let me show you something. Do you know who of those listed in Numbers 13-14 actually went into the land of promise? There were only 2—Caleb and Joshua.
Why? They believed the word of God and didn’t look at the circumstances. Thank God for men like Caleb and Joshua that will courageously look adversity in the face, and say: “That promise is mine! Here’s how scripture describes Caleb: “But my servant Caleb, because he had another spirit with him, and hath followed me fully, him will I bring into the land whereinto he went; and his seed shall possess it” (Numbers 14:24).
Thank God for men who have “a different spirit” with them. Thank God for those who refuse to surrender the land of promise. Thank God for those who see things as God sees them.
Scripture tells us that after their failure, the children of Israel had to wander another 40 years in the wilderness. 40 more years of eating manna. 40 more years of inhaling the dust of the desert. 40 more years of parched desert terrain. 40 more years of unthinkable hardships. Why? Because the majority failed to go up and possess their possessions. Because they failed to believe the Word of God.
Make no mistake about it, the land of promise would eventually be occupied by the children of Israel, led by Joshua and Caleb—but the occupation would be later rather than sooner. Most of those living in the time of Numbers 13 surrendered the deeds to the land of promise. Moses himself never entered into that promised land. It was there, ready for the taking—yet doubt and fear stopped God people from His blessing.
CONC: Where are we today? What Promised Land has God given to us that we have failed to claim?