The Lord now said to Moses, “Send out men to explore the land of Canaan, the land I am giving to the Israelites. Send one leader from each of the twelve ancestral tribes.” So Moses did as the Lord commanded him. He sent out twelve men, all tribal leaders of Israel, from their camp in the wilderness of Paran. Numbers 13:1-3
After exploring the land for forty days, the men returned to Moses, Aaron, and the whole community of Israel at Kadesh in the wilderness of Paran. They reported to the whole community what they had seen and showed them the fruit they had taken from the land. This was their report to Moses: “We entered the land you sent us to explore, and it is indeed a bountiful country—a land flowing with milk and honey. Here is the kind of fruit it produces. But the people living there are powerful, and their towns are large and fortified. We even saw giants there, the descendants of Anak! The Amalekites live in the Negev, and the Hittites, Jebusites, and Amorites live in the hill country. The Canaanites live along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea and along the Jordan Valley.”
But Caleb tried to quiet the people as they stood before Moses. “Let’s go at once to take the land,” he said. “We can certainly conquer it!”
But the other men who had explored the land with him disagreed. “We can’t go up against them! They are stronger than we are!” So they spread this bad report about the land among the Israelites: “The land we traveled through and explored will devour anyone who goes to live there. All the people we saw were huge. We even saw giants there, the descendants of Anak. Next to them we felt like grasshoppers, and that’s what they thought, too!” 25-33
Curious thing here; if God knows all and wanted his people to occupy the land why didn’t God just tell Moses to send in Caleb and Joshua? We should all, when called into the service of God exercise wise, patient discernment for his good and perfect will even in the face of what seem to be insurmountable odds.
Then the whole community began weeping aloud, and they cried all night. Their voices rose in a great chorus of protest against Moses and Aaron. “If only we had died in Egypt, or even here in the wilderness!” they complained. “Why is the Lord taking us to this country only to have us die in battle? Our wives and our little ones will be carried off as plunder! Wouldn’t it be better for us to return to Egypt?” Then they plotted among themselves, “Let’s choose a new leader and go back to Egypt!” Numbers 14:1-4
You want some goat cheese with that whine? Mercy the Israelites are world class moaners and this isn’t the first time during the “Exodus” they have sung this song of lament but for these folks (save two) they will never sing it in the “Promised Land”!
Then the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, “How long must I put up with this wicked community and its complaints about me? Yes, I have heard the complaints the Israelites are making against me. Now tell them this: ‘As surely as I live, declares the Lord, I will do to you the very things I heard you say. You will all drop dead in this wilderness! Because you complained against me, every one of you who is twenty years old or older and was included in the registration will die. You will not enter and occupy the land I swore to give you. The only exceptions will be Caleb son of Jephunneh and Joshua son of Nun.
“‘You said your children would be carried off as plunder. Well, I will bring them safely into the land, and they will enjoy what you have despised. But as for you, you will drop dead in this wilderness. And your children will be like shepherds, wandering in the wilderness for forty years. In this way, they will pay for your faithlessness, until the last of you lies dead in the wilderness.
“‘Because your men explored the land for forty days, you must wander in the wilderness for forty years—a year for each day, suffering the consequences of your sins. Then you will discover what it is like to have me for an enemy.’ I, the Lord, have spoken! I will certainly do these things to every member of the community who has conspired against me. They will be destroyed here in this wilderness, and here they will die!”
The ten men Moses had sent to explore the land – the ones who incited rebellion against the Lord with their bad report – were struck dead with a plague before the Lord. Of the twelve who had explored the land, only Joshua and Caleb remained alive. v.26-38
This – “Then you will discover what it is like to have me for an enemy…” – should scare the living daylights out of us because the Church Universal doesn’t do a very good job teaching about Almighty God and has demeaned him to a friend who will always love us unconditionally…
Does God love us unconditionally? YES!
Are there consequences for acting outside of God’s love? YES!
Now 40 years later God’s word proves true…
After the death of Moses the Lord’s servant, the Lord spoke to Joshua son of Nun, Moses’ assistant. He said, “Moses my servant is dead. Therefore, the time has come for you to lead these people, the Israelites, across the Jordan River into the land I am giving them. I promise you what I promised Moses: ‘Wherever you set foot, you will be on land I have given you – from the Negev wilderness in the south to the Lebanon mountains in the north, from the Euphrates River in the east to the Mediterranean Sea in the west, including all the land of the Hittites.’ No one will be able to stand against you as long as you live. For I will be with you as I was with Moses. I will not fail you or abandon you. Joshua 1:1-5
Then Joshua secretly sent out two spies from the Israelite camp at Acacia Grove. He instructed them, “Scout out the land on the other side of the Jordan River, especially around Jericho.” So the two men set out and came to the house of a prostitute named Rahab and stayed there that night. Joshua 2:1
Before the spies went to sleep that night, Rahab went up on the roof to talk with them. “I know the Lord has given you this land,” she told them. “We are all afraid of you. Everyone in the land is living in terror. For we have heard how the Lord made a dry path for you through the Red Sea when you left Egypt. And we know what you did to Sihon and Og, the two Amorite kings east of the Jordan River, whose people you completely destroyed. 2:8-11
Interesting how the numbers of the scouting party have been trimmed from twelve down to two (one of whom becomes Rahab’s husband and they become part of Jesus’ genealogy!).
But here is my real thought for today…
What events does Rahab mention which have struck terror into the hearts of the current inhabitants of the land the Israelites will possess?
For we have heard how the Lord made a dry path for you through the Red Sea when you left Egypt. And we know what you did to Sihon and Og, the two Amorite kings east of the Jordan River, whose people you completely destroyed.
When did these events occur?
More than 40 years ago!
Think about it!
Now… you could argue it took 40 years for this fear to mature like the apprehension of “Wait until your father gets home!” grew our fear to heights unimagined and these four decades built these native peoples into a psychological state of total terrorized dysfunction…
But I don’t think so.
I agree with Caleb and Joshua and GOD – the land was the Israelite’s for the taking without having to take a 40 year detour in the wilderness!!
Do you feel you are benefitting fully from being one of God’s chosen people? Do you feel like you are enjoying the incredible perks of being a son or daughter of the King of kings through Jesus Christ’s saving grace and reconciliation?
Are you eating grapes as big as grapefruit and dining on the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control?
If you are getting full on huge spiritual fruit and living right now in a rich land flowing with milk and honey – MOST EXCELLENT – Give thanks to Almighty God and keep on doing what He wants of you!
But what if you feel like you are constantly leaping and springing to avoid being squashed by giants like a grasshopper? Do you have the sensation everything in life is a “teachable moment” and you are ALWAYS the young apprentice in front of the kung fu master?
Well Grasshopper don’t do what the Israelites did after realizing the error of their ways and go off into battle before you make yourself right with God!
We don’t have “confessionals” here at Woodgrove Parish and I thank the good Lord for the fact you can petition God directly with those things which have distanced you from His full blessings or much worse; make you feel like God has indeed become your enemy!
I encourage us all at this very moment to ask God to examine our hearts and bring to our most focused attention those things we need to confess which are keeping us off the path God wants to lead us on for blessing!
How embarrassing to be one of God’s chosen people and a PROSTITUTE announces a knowledge of YOUR God which would have saved an entire generation if they could have wrapped their hearts around it!
No wonder our hearts have melted in fear! No one has the courage to fight after hearing such things. For the Lord your God is the supreme God of the heavens above and the earth below. Joshua 2:11
I don’t ever want a prostitute to have to remind me – like an apprentice Grasshopper – where the source of my strength lies. I want to move in the good and perfect will of God to the place he has ready for me to be! He has provided me with enough miracles in my life to do this!!
I want the grapes because in God I am no grasshopper!!
When the ground soaks up the falling rain and bears a good crop for the farmer, it has God’s blessing. But if a field bears thorns and thistles, it is useless. The farmer will soon condemn that field and burn it.
Dear friends, even though we are talking this way, we really don’t believe it applies to you. We are confident that you are meant for better things, things that come with salvation. For God is not unjust. He will not forget how hard you have worked for him and how you have shown your love to him by caring for other believers, as you still do.
Our great desire is that you will keep on loving others as long as life lasts, in order to make certain that what you hope for will come true. Then you will not become spiritually dull and indifferent.
Instead, you will follow the example of those who are going to inherit God’s promises because of their faith and endurance.