Summary: What do you see? And where are you going?
MELVIN M. NEWLAND, MINISTER
CENTRAL CHRISTIAN, BROWNSVILLE, TX
A. I would like to call your attention to the 13th chapter of the Book of Numbers. This chapter tells about a crucial event in the history of Israel. And I believe that it is relevant to us because the way they reacted is too often the way we react.
This is the story of Moses & the people of Israel as God freed them from their slavery in Egypt & led them to the borders of the Promised Land. When they arrive, God gives the command, & Moses tells the people, "Now it is time for us to go in & take the land which God has given to us."
But first, he appoints a committee. He selects one person from each tribe, & tells them, "Go & spy out the land. Observe the people, their lifestyles, their cities & their produce. Then come back & report to us. Tell us if the Promised Land is everything God said it would be."
B. So these 12 men take off & spend 40 days spying out the land. Then they come back to give their report.
Beginning in Numbers 13:26, we read these words, "They came back to Moses & Aaron & the whole Israelite community at Kadesh in the Desert of Paran. There they reported to them & to the whole assembly & showed them the fruit of the land. They gave Moses this account, `We went into the land to which you sent us, & it does flow with milk & honey! Here is its fruit.’"
Doesn’t that sound great? The first part of their report was unanimous & very positive. "We looked at the land & it is exactly as God said it would be. It is a land flowing with milk & honey." And they brought back a huge cluster of grapes & pomegranates & figs as evidence of its fertility.
C. But from that point on, their report was no longer unanimous. The committee was divided 10 to 2, & the majority begins the rest of its report with the word, "But".
APPL. By the way, have you ever noticed how often the word, "but," is heard in meetings when you are discussing plans for the future? No matter what is suggested, there are almost always those "Doubting Thomases" who think it just cannot be done, & therefore you shouldn’t even try.
That is exactly what was happening here. Follow along with me as I read vs’s 28-33 where the majority continues with its report.
"But the people who live there are powerful, & the cities are fortified & very large. We even saw descendants of Anak there. The Amalekites live in the Negev; the Hittites, Jebusites & Amorites live in the hill country; & the Canaanites live near the sea & along the Jordan.
"Then Caleb silenced the people before Moses & said, `We should go up & take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it.’ But the men who had gone up with him said, `We can’t attack those people; they are stronger than we are.’ 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. We saw the Nephilim there. . .We seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes, & we looked the same to them.’"
Oh, oh, the majority is recommending that they disobey God & not enter the Promised Land as God has commanded. Why? "Because," they said, "the people who live there are powerful, & the cities are fortified & very large."
D. But Caleb & Joshua, even though they are in the minority, urge the people to go right ahead & do what God wants them to do. They argue, if God is leading the way, then why should they be afraid?
You would think that would settle the matter, wouldn’t you? After all, look at the miraculous things God had been doing on their behalf.
ILL. He had sent the plagues on Egypt & forced Pharaoh to let them go. He had divided the waters of the Red Sea for them, & then closed those waters upon the chariots of Egypt. He had given them water in the desert when they were thirsty, & manna when they were hungry, & 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, & a pillar of fire by night. They had even heard His voice in the midst of the thunder & lightning & smoke on Mt. Sinai as He prepared to give them His commandments.