Then Moses sent them to spy out the land of Canaan, and said to them, “Go up this way into the South, and go up to the mountains, and see what the land is like: whether the people who dwell in it are strong or weak, few or many; whether the land they dwell in is good or bad; … Be of good courage. And bring some of the fruit of the land.” (Numbers 13:17-20)
All my life I have believed that, for forty years, the children of Israel traversed the desert before finally coming into the land of Canaan. And for the large majority of the nation that is true but it is also true that, about two years after leaving Egypt, a contingent of Israelis did enter the land. Sometime in mid-summer, Moses sent these twelve men into the south part of the country. For forty days they traveled the length and breadth of the land, going as far as Mount Hermon in the north. The area we are talking about is approximately 180 miles in length and about 40 miles in breadth and, thus, we assume they covered a good part of it.
Don’t miss the point I’m highlighting: a remnant of people did go into the land and brought back a cluster of grapes gathered from the valley of Eshchol (lit. “cluster”). Unfortunately, that isn’t all they brought back. Ten of these twelve did not heed Moses’ words — “Be of good courage” — and ended up discouraging others from going into the land. In fact, instead of going directly to Moses with their report, they first went to the people.
Though they began their report with the good news — “It is a land of milk and honey” — they ended up slandering the land and convincing the nation that, “Even though it’s a great place, we can’t possess it.” Mind you, there actually were giants and fortified cities in the land and so their slander contained accurate information. However, their words also contained a poisonous element that undermined what God had told them and what He expected of them.
Thus we learn how important it is to take the words of man and compare them to the word of God. If the former doesn’t line up with the latter, then the word of man must be disregarded. In other words, “Whose report will you believe?” Are we going to trust the words of man over the Word of God or are we going to be as Caleb and Joshua and resolve to do what He has called us to in spite of what man has to say?
Given the situation this world is in presently, I believe we will be confronted with this question again and again as we move closer to the LORD’s return. We will have to decide who we are going to believe! It seems fitting, then, to conclude with words written to the believers in Rome who, at the time, had to decide daily whether to obey God or the emperor. To them (and to us) Paul said: “Let God be true but every man a liar” (Romans 3:4).
Blessings and Shalom,