Lessons From The Ten Spies Of Israel
The Good Report
Numbers 13:30 Then Caleb quieted the people before Moses and said, “We should by all means go up and take possession of it, for we will surely overcome it.”
We begin with a look at how Caleb and Joshua saw the situation. They saw the situation with hearts and eyes filled with faith. They saw that God would give them the land that He promised to them and their forefathers. They knew that God was able to handle their enemies with ease and that they should not fear what they saw, no matter how big their enemies looked. What we read next sounds all too familiar to me. This is a record of what lead to the Israelites getting forty years of wandering in the wilderness to think about what could have been. I’ve had plenty of my own seasons of wandering the wilderness to think about opportunities that I didn’t believe God for, how about you? Let’s take a look at what the ten spies saw and more importantly what they believed. What lessons can we learn from the ten spies of Israel?
Lessons From The Ten Spies Of Israel
Numbers 13:31 But the men who had gone up with him said, “We are not able to go up against the people, for they are too strong for us.”
“The problem is so big, how will we ever get out of this situation?” “It’s too much to handle.” I can’t tell you how many times that these words have come out of my mouth or entered into my thoughts. Let’s just say more times than I care to admit. Maybe you know what I mean. The bad health report, the more month than money at the end of each paycheck, the mounting problems at work, the deadlines, the drama from friends and family that you’re sure will end the world as we know it. We can come against some things that seem like they may just break us. The easiest thing to do, avoid the problems. Know what I mean? Just simply bury it deep inside ourselves and do our best to pretend that it never happened. Like we never saw or heard a thing. The problem is that we aren’t really stretching our faith or believing God for every much each time we do this. We somehow stop praying for the breakthrough, we just begin to accept the situation as “life” and that’s the way things are.
Numbers 13:32 So they gave out to the sons of Israel a bad report of the land which they had spied out, saying, The land through which we have gone, in spying it out, is a land that devours its inhabitants; and all the people whom we saw in it are men of great size.
The ten spies saw the size of their enemy, got filled with fear and told all those that would not only listen, but would believe their report. What was the report? That Pharaoh, his entire army, the parting of the Red Sea, and all the other miracles, were nothing compared to the great size of the enemy they were now facing. They saw this enemy as impossible to defeat, even in the wake of all the other wonders God had already showed them. Do you know the feeling? I sure do.
They believed the best thing for them to do in the face of such great opposition was to keep moving. God surely had His coordinates wrong or perhaps Moses misheard Him somehow. Regardless, there is NO WAY that this enemy is going down, at least not at their hands. Sadly, the camp of Israelites believed the ten spies with the bad report over the two spies with the good report. And like the Israelites, we too may have missed some great opportunities in our life because we feared the size of our enemy verses taking courage in the size of the God we serve.
Have you ever believe a bad report over a good one? How many people did it take to deliver the bad report before you believed it over what God says is true? For me, regrettably, it only took one person in most situations. Like when I had all my health issues. I didn’t matter how many people I heard sharing the good news about me being healed by Jesus’ stripes or that through Him I am whole. Nope, I just needed one doctor to tell me that I needed surgery and it was all downhill from there. My condition worsened, hard to believe huh? I can’t tell you why we can be prone to taking bad news so deeply over good news, but we do and I thank God daily that He is so patient with me as I fail, learn and grow.
Numbers 13:33 There also we saw the Nephilim (the sons of Anak are part of the Nephilim); and we became like grasshoppers in our own sight, and so we were in their sight.
Our last look at the ten spies shows that they not only saw themselves as saw very small, but they projected how they saw themselves onto others. It wasn’t enough that they thought that they couldn’t do it, but they were sure that their enemy, in this case the sons of Anak, saw them as small too. They never came face-to-face with their enemy, so how would they know what the enemy thought of them or how the enemy saw them?
I’ve been down this path too, daily. It’s an area of great struggle for me and praise God that He is graciously, lovingly and patiently walking me through the mine field I’ve set up in my own head. How many times do we think little of ourselves? Perhaps in the areas of looks, personality, talent, etc. and then we can’t stop there, but feel the need to project our own distorted self-image onto others. I’ve been on the receiving end of friends and family members that have done this and it’s hard, it breaks my heart for them. I can imagine what others have gone through over the years watching me battle this out and sometimes, ascribing “feelings” to them that they never had about me. Know what I mean?
We can be awfully hard on ourselves and then assume that others are as critical with us as we are with ourselves. It’s a nasty pit that can still trap me, if I’m not careful about what I allow to go through my mind on any given day. In the end, it’s not what we think of ourselves, what we say about ourselves that is the most damaging, but how absorbed we become with self and our surrounding problems. We further the damage by how little we think of God and how little we believe in His ability to carry us through. That’s a great lesson that these ten spies taught me.
Some more lessons from the ten spies of Israel
Did you notice how Caleb worded his report versus the report of the ten spies? (Numbers 13:30) He didn’t even mention the enemy, the giants. He only mentioned the land. Talk about focus! I’m sure Caleb and Joshua saw the same people that the other ten saw, but that was clearly not their focus, because the giants never even made it into the first part of their report! Their report only contained what God promised, not what the enemy intended. Caleb had his eyes fixed so intently on God that all he saw was the land God promised, not the giants the other ten were so fearful of. When the ten spies did mention the land, it’s to say that it would devour them. They were not only afraid to the people, but of the land God had promised them as well.
Later Joshua and Caleb mention the people, but still they were fixed on God and His promises.
Joshua the son of Nun and Caleb the son of Jephunneh, of those who had spied out the land, tore their clothes; and they spoke to all the congregation of the sons of Israel, saying, “The land which we passed through to spy out is an exceedingly good land. If the Lord is pleased with us, then He will bring us into this land and give it to us-a land which flows with milk and honey. Only do not rebel against the Lord; and do not fear the people of the land, for they will be our prey. Their protection has been removed from them, and the Lord is with us; do not fear them.” ~Numbers 14:6-9 What a contrast with the other ten spies and ultimately the entire congregation.
Faith, it’s not really about trying not to be afraid. Gosh, we’re all afraid at one time or another. It seems to be more about where our focus is. My Bible study took me to the Book of Numbers and the account of the twelve spies. While ten spies saw the ominous situation of the enemies, Caleb and Joshua saw the omnipotence of God. The other ten spies had the report right, they were not able to go against those people and the enemies were too strong for the Israelites…but Caleb and Joshua knew the rest of story and that the report didn’t end there. The rest of the repost that fear left out was that is wasn’t too much or too hard for the God. It’s a matter of where we place our focus. While it’s true that things are too hard for us, they are never too hard for the God we serve. The more we focus on God, the less threatened we are by what comes against us. If we keep our focus on Him and on His abundance and perfection, knowing that through Jesus we can do all things, we will be less likely to focus on ourselves and all the areas we fall short. Allowing us to live the P413Life.
What is the P413Life? It’s a life filled with imperfection, messiness, pain, hurt, suffering, misunderstandings, miscommunications, anger, frustration, insecurities, brokenness, weakness and sometimes downright ugliness. It’s also a life that knows WHO holds us together. It’s a life that knows WHO mends our wounds, makes all the wrongs right again, comforts us, heals us, and restores us when we believe we are not worth restoring. It’s a life that is fully surrendered to serving a omnipotent God that loves us with the most tender heart and with more patience than we deserve. It’s a life that’s so wrapped up in Jesus that to remove Him is to unravel all that we are and our very purpose for existing. It’s a life that knows that without Him, we are empty and are nothing, but with Him and through Him, there is nothing that is impossible, no mountain too big, no valley too deep, no pain that He can’t helps us process, heal and grow from and no enemy too big for Him to handle. It’s a blessed life, because He blesses it. It’s a life that I’d not trade for anything in this world, even during seasons of my life when I’ve had nothing to speak of in this world. It’s the life that the ten spies taught me can get me through the hardest of battles into the land that God has promised us…the one flowing with milk and honey. What does the P413Life look like to you?
I pray that this has blessed you and that it reminds you that God is far bigger than we often give Him credit for and worth more time, heart, mind and energy than we often devote to Him. In case you are feeling bad right now, don’t. He loves you and He gets you, even if no one else does…He does. He longs to be your everything and to show you how amazing He truly is. He longs to bless you and the world through you. So, the next time you are face-to-face with your enemy, don’t even focus on it long enough to lose sight of God, for when you do…your report can end up sounding a bit like the ten spies of Israel, verses the two spies with the excellent report.