The spies have returned after 40 days of walking the land. The report they bring is initially true but the spirit they bring is the problem.
When God and Moses commissioned this mission the spies were told to look around the land. “Go up into the Negeb and go up into the hill country, and see what the land is” (verse 17b); “Whether the land that they dwell in is good or bad” (verse 19a); “Whether the land is rich or poor, and whether there are trees in it or not” (verse 20a). They were told to check out the people. “Whether the people who dwell in it are strong or weak, whether they are few or many” (verse 18b). And they were told to check out how they lived. “Whether the cities that they dwell in are camps or strongholds” (verse 19b).
All these things Moses sent them to find out. He also told them to bring back some of the fruit of the land to show what it had to offer. This is exactly what the spies did. They brought word about the land. “We came to the land which you sent us. It flows with milk and honey, and this is its fruit” (verse 27b). They told of its people. “The people who dwell in the land are strong” (verse 28b); “We saw descendants of Anak there. The Amalekites dwell in the land of the Negeb. The Hittites, the Jebusites, and the Amorites dwell in the hill country. And the Canaanites dwell by the sea, and along the Jordan” (verses 28c-29). They also reported on the cities. “The cities are fortified and very large” (verse 28b). ALL these facts were true and delivered to Moses just as he had directed.
If you were a general preparing an army for an invasion this information would be of the utmost importance. And from how I presented it, you could form a battle plan accordingly. I left out a couple of words in my presentation that changed their report from mere facts to tales of terror.
The first part I didn’t include was who they claimed Anak to be. They elaborated on this after Caleb tried to stop their scare tactics. The sons of Anak were said to be descendants of the Nephilim. Who were the Nephilim you ask. Genesis 6:4 tells us who they were. “The Nephilim were on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of man and they bore children to them. These were the mighty men who were of old, the men of renown.” The mention of their names was meant to instill fear into the hearts of the listener.
The second thing I left out was one simple word; “however.” This one word was inserted right after showing all the fruits of the land and describing what it had to offer. This informed the listener that what they were seeing was NOT worth the price it would cost to possess it. Truthfully, if Israel had to do this on their own, it wouldn’t have been worth it. They would have been wiped from the field before they even go situated. Acting ALONE they had a right to be scared and to refuse to pursue this course of action. And it would have been a good decision.
BUT they weren’t alone!!! That is where the problem lay. They hadn’t been on their own since before they left Egypt. God had fought their battles for them. Did they want to take credit for the success of the plagues and their own protection from them? Were they willing to take credit for the death of all of Egypt’s army in the Red Sea? Were they claiming their own superiority over the forces of Amalek? And were they also claiming they were meeting their own needs for survival in this wilderness? THIS was their downfall; their great sin.
Caleb tried to redirect them in their report but they shot him down. Caleb’s statement sounded ludicrous to them. He said “Let us go up at once and occupy it, for we are well able to overcome it” (verse 30b). From the way Caleb stated his intention and encouragement one might think he had left God out of the equation too. He said “let US go up” and “WE are well able.” These statements were false if it weren’t for the fact that his “Us” and “We” counted in the Almighty Creator of Heaven and Earth.
Caleb never for a moment thought God wouldn’t be going into battle with the people. Caleb remembered all the experiences of the past. He counted on the power of God to be with them. He relied on their past experience with God to predict their future success. And he BELIEVED God when He said He was giving this land to His people. That is the ONLY reason Caleb believed they could take the land. Not in their own might but in God’s.
I admire Caleb’s faith. I also admire his willingness to stand against the crowd and say “You are wrong!” Caleb was one out of twelve men to go on this journey. We know later that Joshua also held fast in faith but he didn’t speak up at this moment in time. Caleb stood in the face of those who were spewing fear and defeat. He said “enough”! That is not a popular place to be but he took that stand anyway and never backed down.
Father God, I wish I were as brave as Caleb. I know of so many times in my life where I was too afraid to take a stand. Even as I write some of my blog entries I hesitate in taking a stand on some issues. I’m afraid of offending anyone or turning someone against turning to You because of something I’ve said or written.
I know there were other times when the stakes weren’t nearly as high or important that I did take a stand. Some of those times I’ve been pretty proud of the outcome but others I probably should have stayed seated for instead.
Knowing which stands to take would be more of what I want to be more like Caleb in. I want to hear Your heart and respond when You call. I want to stand up for You regardless of how hard it is, who is watching, or what it may cost me in the moment. In the end, the final tally will be all that counts. And that “tally” is made by You. YOU are worth standing up for. Not because You can’t stand up for Yourself but because I love You and EVERYTHING in me calls out to show You that love. Jesus also say that if I deny Him before men, He will deny me before You. I NEVER want to put Him or You in that place.
I pray for Your strength Holy Spirit in all the trials I face in my future that will test my “Caleb like” resolve. Give me the courage and the words to say as I stand FIRM with You as my foundation.