Summary: Like the ancient Israelites, we have been set free from the slavery of sin and now are heading to the Promised "Land." We face various "giants" of problems personally, in the family, and from society against biblical truth.
The Jews were staying in Egypt for 430 years. In the last two hundred years, they were enslaved by the Egyptians. God sent Moses to deliver them from slavery and entered the Promised Land. Before they entered it, in verses 1 and 2, God gave the command through Moses to send twelve men, one from each tribe, to explore the land of Canaan, which God was going to give to them. In verses 17-20, Moses told those leaders to observe the people, their lifestyles, their cities, and their produce. And after that, they should come back to give the report. So, these 12 men left and spent 40 days spying out the land. Then they came back to give their account.
In Numbers 13:26-27, they reported to them and the whole assembly and showed them the land's fruit. They gave Moses this account, "We went into the land to which you sent us, and it does flow with milk and honey! Here is its fruit." And they brought back a massive cluster of grapes and pomegranates and figs as evidence of its fertility. That news brought great joy to the whole people.
Unfortunately, those ten spies continued their report in verse 28, telling them that everything they saw was so good, but they would not be able to enter the Promised Land. Why? Because they said, "the people who live there are powerful, and the cities are fortified and very large." In verse 31, those fearful spies continued, "We can't attack those people; they are stronger than we are." And each time they told it, the story got worse and worse. Verse 32 and 33 told us, "And they spread among the Israelites a bad report about the land they had explored. They said, "The land we explored devours those living in it. All the people we saw there are of great size." In other words, they said, "We don't stand a chance because there are giants in the land! Everywhere you go, there are giants!
But Caleb and Joshua, even though they are in the minority, urged the people to go right ahead and do what God wanted them to do. They argued, if God is leading the way, then why should they be afraid? Sadly, the people of Israel chose to listen to those ten spies rather than Caleb and Joshua. People tend to be affected more by bad news than much good news.
How could those ten spies give a different response to the situation? Didn't they see and experience the same thing with Caleb and Joshua? They saw the same thing, but they had a different focus! (See the PP). The ten spies focused on the challenges they faced (V 28-33). Because of that, they were afraid (They felt helpless). When we focus on the challenges we face, we'll become afraid, worry, discourage, having a negative attitude, and don't appreciate the good things that God gives to us. We'll lose joy and peace in our lives. They forgot what God has done to them. Not long ago, God had sent the plagues in Egypt and forced Pharaoh to let them go. He had divided the Red Sea waters for them and then closed those waters upon Egypt's chariots. He had given them water in the desert when they were thirsty, and manna when they were hungry, and quail when they wanted meat. God had been with them all through the wilderness as they headed for the Promised Land. He had led them by a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. They had even heard His voice amid the thunder and lightning and smoke on Mt. Sinai as He prepared to give them His commandments. But those ten spies seemed to forget the great things that God had done for them.
Application: When you face challenges, don't ever forget what God has done in your lives. Jesus is the same yesterday and today and forever! (Heb 13:8). He who helped you in the past will help you again. He never forsakes you!
The two spies (Joshua and Caleb), on the other hand, focused on God. Look what they said in Numbers 14:8-9, "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." Caleb and Joshua were not naïve. They didn't deny or ignore that they faced a significant challenge. They knew their enemies were huge and very strong. They saw the whole picture.
They did more than positive thinking: see a half-full glass of water instead of half-empty glass. Positive thinking tends to ignore challenges or belittle difficulties. People like to say something that sounds good but can be dangerous, like: "No problem. Everything is okay." Joshua and Caleb are men of faith! They didn't let what they saw scare them. They lived by faith, not by sight. They trusted in the Lord! They believed they could conquer their enemies (13:30), and they thought God was with them (14:6-9). God is greater than their enemies. God is greater than the giants whom He created!