Summary: To know that God is available to help you face your fears
A SPY STORY
“And Moses sent them to spy out the land of Caanan” (Numbers 13: 17).
I don’t mind a spy story do you? There is something about the mystery and intrigue that gathers around a good spy yarn that just gets you in. You might have read spy stories by Tom Clancy, Len Deighton, and Robert Ludlum, just to name a few spy writers. Well, tonight we have read the first spy yarn recorded in the Bible. It might not be a story that is packed with the technical sophistication and graphic action of modern espionage, but there is nonethe-less a mystery and intrigue attached to the story of Moses sending out the twelve spies to check out the land of Caanan.
One man from each of the twelve tribes was chosen to be a spy, and each was a leader in his own right (v. 3), and given the task of surveillance. They were twelve men who without a doubt were chosen because of their personal suitability for the task, men of intelligence and courage. Twelve men sent out for forty days (v. 25), sufficient time for them to make their reconnaissance and report. Twelve men sent out as a company, drawing from each other mutual support and protection.
The twelve were sent to check out the inhabitants of the land - were they strong or weak, few or many. The twelve were sent to check out the countryside whether the land was good or bad. The twelve were sent to see whether the inhabitants of the land lived in tents or walled cities. The twelve had to assess whether the land was productive or unproductive.
The spies saw in Caanan (the land that they were sent to spy out) that everything was on a grand scale. The people and the produce of the land was nothing like what they had seen or known up until that time. Imagine a cluster of grapes needing to be carried by two men on a pole (v. 23). Imagine a people that dwarfed others, giants that made other human beings feel they were mere insects (v. 33). The land of Caanan was beyond their comprehension, larger than life, if you like. The land was good, the people were strong, the cities were walled, and many people populated the place. To say the least, the spies were overwhelmed by what they saw!
If the people of God had to overtake the land, it seemed that it would be an impossible task! That’s the verdict of the majority of the spies when they reported back to Moses after the forty days.
Ever thought that something was impossible? Ever thought that things could be different, but were afraid to do something about it? Ever thought that you Were too demeaned to be able to change that reality? Some of the spies felt the pressure of not being able to face up to their anxieties and fears. We can identify with the spies on that score, for time and again in our life we fail to face up to our fears and anxieties. We would rather live with the status quo, than do something about our situation and circumstance.
Whist the majority of spies caved in to the challenge that was before them, a minority, a very small minority felt different. One of the spies Caleb challenged the children of God, “Sure, there are obstacles, but we can do it!” Caleb didn’t diminish the difficulty of invading the land of Caanan, but he knew that the victory would be theirs because God was on their side. God makes all the difference to any difficulty that needs to be overcome in our life. Caleb’s desire to proceed was overruled by the other spies. The people of God listen to the pessimism of the majority of spies. How often it is that we listen to voice of pessimism rather than the voice of optimism!