Summary: The story of Joshua and Caleb and the 10 spies gives us the keys to being strong and courageous as we face giants in our own lives today.
JOURNEY THROUGH THE OLD TESTAMENT #3: STRONG AND COURAGEOUS
“22 And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying: 23 "Speak to Aaron and his sons, saying, ’This is the way you shall bless the children of Israel. Say to them: 24 "The Lord bless you and keep you; 25 The Lord make His face shine upon you (= favour and acceptance), And be gracious to you; 26 The Lord lift up His countenance upon you, And give you peace." ’ 27 "So they shall put My name on the children of Israel, and I will bless them.” (Num. 6:22-27).
• This passage shows us the power of spoken words: As the priests spoke a benediction over the people, God blessed them. Remember this as we go into our story today…
INTRO TO TOPIC: In 1776, Thomas Paine wrote: “These are the times that try men’s souls.”
• That’s true of today! What does it take for us to become strong and courageous?
• John Wayne said, “Courage is being scared to death – and saddling up anyway.”
• Today we’re going to look at the story of 12 notable men who were chosen for a mission.
BACKGROUND TO THE STORY:
Last week, we looked at the story in Exodus where Moses delivered God’s people from bondage in Egypt. God brought them through the Red Sea, defeated their enemies, and brought them to Mount Sinai where He gave them His law. In Leviticus, God taught them about the Levites and priests, offerings and feasts. In Numbers, God gets ready to take them into the Promised Land:
• “And the children of Israel set out from the Wilderness of Sinai on their journeys; then the cloud settled down in the Wilderness of Paran.” (Num. 10:12).
• All through chapters 11-12, the people continually complain. God had delivered them from slavery, provided manna and water for them, but they kept grumbling.
1. THE TWELVE SPIES:
“And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, "Send men to spy out the land of Canaan, which I am giving to the children of Israel; from each tribe of their fathers you shall send a man, every one a leader among them.” (Num. 13:1-2).
• Two of these men were Joshua and Caleb. They went on a 40 day recon mission.
• Notice God’s promise: “the land which I am giving to you…”
2. THE BAD REPORT:
“26 Now they departed and came back to Moses and Aaron and all the congregation of the children of Israel in the Wilderness of Paran, at Kadesh; they brought back word to them and to all the congregation, and showed them the fruit of the land. 27 Then they told him, and said: "We went to the land where you sent us. It truly flows with milk and honey, and this is its fruit. 28 Nevertheless the people who dwell in the land are strong; the cities are fortified and very large; moreover we saw the descendants of Anak there.” (Num. 13:26-28).
• The first thing the spies did was gave a report of the land – wonderful as God had said.
• But then they added a “nevertheless.” Have you ever done that in your life? God calls you to do something, or you have a dream in your heart, but you add a ‘nevertheless’?
• All twelve men had been slaves in Egypt, and ten of them had a defeatist mentality.
• Whiney voice: “The people are strong, the cities are fortified, wah wah wah!”
3. TWO DIFFERENT REPORTS:
“Then Caleb quieted the people before Moses, and said, "Let us go up at once and take possession, for we are well able to overcome it.” (Num. 13:30).
• Caleb knew the power of words to influence people, so he told the people: “Shut up!”
• Joshua and Caleb came back with a good report: “We are well able to overcome!”
“But the men who had gone up with him said, "We are not able to go up against the people, for they are stronger than we." And they gave the children of Israel a bad report of the land which they had spied out, saying, "The land through which we have gone as spies is a land that devours its inhabitants, and all the people whom we saw in it are men of great stature. There we saw the giants (the descendants of Anak came from the giants); and we were like grasshoppers in our own sight, and so we were in their sight.” (Num. 13:31-33).
• The other ten men said, “We are NOT able, for they are strong than we.”
• QUOTE: “To be notable is ‘to be significant enough to deserve attention or to be recorded.’ To be selected as one of the 12 was a notable achievement and honor. As it happens, however, the only reason these guys were notable was because they insisted they were not able.” (Battle Ready, Steve Farrar).