Summary: If we want to interpret life and the decisions of life reasonably, we need to develop the Biblical virtue of wisdom, a wisdom that comes from adjusting to God's Word.

Interpreting the Facts

(Numbers 13:1-33)

1. Joe Friday: "Just the facts, mam."

2. A lot of what is presented as facts are really interpretations of fact. When we are taught interpretations of facts as actual facts, we become biased and blind to the difference between what we have been told and what is.

3. In their book Sway, Ori and Rom Brafman tell about a test that was conducted at a college. They said the teacher couldn't make it, but they had a guest instructor. Half the students were given a brief bio that included that statement that the instructor was competent, even though he was considered to be cold by some. The other bio was given to half the students that had all the same information, except it said that the professors was said to be warm in personality.

4. After class, they asked students to evaluate the prof. The students who had the bio that said he was cold indicated that such was the case; the half with the bio that said he had a warm personality indicated that. [source: "Sway," by Ori and Rom Brafman, pp. 72-73.

5. People are prone to be biased because they have accepted another's interpretation of fact or they themselves jump to conclusions. We see that phenomenon played out in today's text.

I. The Storyline: Same Facts, DIFFERENT Interpretation


1. Spies go out, probably in twos.

2. The people initiated this, according to Deuteronomy 1:22

3. Check out land, crops, and people

4. They come back at different times, having spied out different regions

5. Land is flowing with milk and honey, crops large

6. They bring a big bunch of grapes and taste them

7. But the men are huge, the Sons of Anak

The New Testament is filled with midrashim from this chapter and the next

i. Much of the Book of Hebrews is a midrash on this, including chapter 6.

ii. Jesus naming 12 apostles may be drawn as a midrash from this text.

iii. The nicknaming of disciples also originates here; Moses nicknames Joshua

iv. God penalizes the Jews for 40 years and then the believing generation conquers; in NT, God gives the Jews 40 years to receive Christ, they do not generally do so, so He brings judgment.

B. The Facts Interpreted NATURALLY

1. The people are strong

2. Large cities and fortified by walls (30 to 50 feet high, 15 feet thick)Large inhabitants; we seemed like grasshoppers in their sight (how did they know what the Canaanites thought)?

3. Hyperbole: exaggerating; they were not that big!

4. They had to spread their fear and doubt

5. Verse 31 can be translated "stronger than we" or "stronger than He."

C. The Facts Interpreted Through the Eyes of FAITH

1. Caleb, also speaking for Joshua, says, "We can do it."

2. Note the simplicity of verse 30

Two groups, one large (10 spies), one small (2 spies). Was the majority right? They had the same facts as the minority. How could they be drawn to two opposite conclusions?



1. Instincts are not always bad, but thinking emotionally is

2. "Following your heart" is the philosophy of the age; brain use

3. Wisdom, reason, and sensibility are considered boring, stifling, and joyless.

4. How much we value wisdom probably indicates how wise we are

B. We follow the HERD and trends

1. From designer jeans to beanie babies, we do not trust our own taste or opinions, so we let others set the course and we join in

2. In truth, we are afraid to be ourselves

3. We are also hesitant to go at things alone, even if God demands it

4. Like the demon-possessed swine rushing off the edge of a cliff, many modern Christians simply join the herd…whatever the new fads are…

C. We are SWAYED through faulty thinking

1. Our forefathers in faith advocated taking this land from the Indians & then later the Mexicans

2. Many of them advocated slavery and racism

3. Why did so many Christians go along with these things? runaway spending, R-rated movies, refuse to say no to their children, and interests of life displace God from as first priority. Because crowd does it. Christian crowd?

Main Idea: If we want to interpret life and the decisions of life reasonably, we need to develop the Biblical virtue of wisdom, a wisdom that comes from adjusting to God's Word.

III. Notice How FAITH in God's Word Makes the Difference

How did Caleb and Joshua, the two faithful spies, think?

A. They knew what God said and what it MEANT

1. Matters were much more gray to the doubters…

2. Do you make God's certain truth uncertain? Do you refuse to draw conclusions and act on what the Word means? Are you hesitant?

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