THE TWELVE SPIES AND THEIR REPORTS

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    [Numbers:13:1-33]; [Deuteronomy:1:19-24].

    Lesson No.: 
    101
    Class: 
    Junior
    Memory Verse: 

    “When a man's ways please the LORD, he maketh even his enemies to be at peace with him" (Proverbs 16:7).

    Notes: 

    The Borders of Canaan Reached
    The Children of Israel have come to the borders of the land of Canaan. It seems that their journey through the wilder-ness is about to end. God has promised this land to their forefathers to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. And in fulfilment of that promise He had led the Israelites out of Egypt with a high hand, after utterly defeating every opposition of their enemies.

    God's Provision
    A path through the Red Sea had opened for them when it seemed there was no way for the Israelites to go, and the armies of Egypt were pursuing them. God had provided food and drink in the barren wilderness; and when the Amalekites had made war against them, God had given victory to this disorganised band of Hebrew slaves. The pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night had led them for more than a year. God had always proved that He was able to give them everything they needed. Now it was time to cross the border to the Promised Land, and they should have just followed the cloud and gone ahead where God led them. Had not God promised them this land? Would He not now give it to them?

    The Sin of Unbelief
    Right on the verge of having their hopes and dreams fulfilled, the Israelites again doubted God. The greatest sin in the world is unbelief. It is the root of all other sins. If people believed the Word of God they would realise that hell will be the reward of the sinner. They would see the terrible suffering forever and ever that will be the reward of those who turn from God, and they would run to Jesus for refuge. When man first sinned in the Garden of Eden it was because he doubted the Word of God that they would die if they disobeyed the divine command. Because they disobeyed God, all humanity became sinners with only one hope of salvation: through the shed Blood of Jesus.

    Spies Sent
    In [Numbers:13:2] God tells Moses to send spies into the land of Canaan to see what kind of country it is. In [Deuteronomy:1:22] we find the explanation of why the spies were sent. God wanted His people to believe Him when He told them it was a rich land, and it would not have been necessary for spies to go; but if they insisted, God permitted them to go and see what lay within the Promised Land.

    God had told them the land flowed with milk and honey. Just a short time before, they had been so tired of the manna that they had murmured against God and had asked for meat to eat. Now they had the opportunity to go where they could eat of all kinds of fruit and meat and honey and milk. But instead of believing God and going in to enjoy the land, they became cowards and wanted someone to go, and see if they could really take that country. They doubted the Word of God, and what terrible trouble came upon them!

    God has made great promises to us; and if we will place our hand in His and trust Him in spite of the way the situation looks to us, He will lead us a step at a time, and bring us into the full blessings He has provided.

    God let the people send the spies. They chose a. man from each tribe, a man who was thought to be wise and who would bring back a true report. But ten of those supposedly wise men did not have any more faith in God than the rest of the people had.

    After forty days they returned. All the words God had said had been true: it was a good land, which flowed with milk and honey. There were fortified cities with good houses for them to live in. The sample of the fruit they brought back was a bunch of grapes so large that it had to be carried on a stick between two men. Just think how beautiful that land of trees and rivers and vineyards must have looked to them after wandering in the wilderness for more than a year!

    Evil Report
    But there was more than the beauty of the land. There were people living everywhere. The Hittites, Jebusites, and Amorites lived in the mountains; the Canaanites lived on the coast; and the Amalekites, with whom they had already fought one battle and won, lived to the south. The spies seemed to forget that in that battle it was God who had given them victory, and He could surely do it again.

    And then there were giants in the land. As the spies looked at those big people, they felt as small as grasshoppers beside them. But do we need to be afraid, even of giants, when the Lord is on our side? When David was but a shepherd boy he went out all by himself and fought Goliath, and he won. Do you remember why? This is what David said to the giant: "And all this assembly shall know that the LORD saveth not with sword and spear: for the battle is the LORD'S, and he will give you into our hands" (I Samuel:17:47). With God on his side, David could knock down the giant with one stone from his slingshot.

    The Lord's Battles
    We can see how the Children of Israel could have defeated all the people in the land of Canaan. They could have let the Lord fight their battles. God wanted to do it. God wants to do the same for His people today. He does not want us to be worried and to fret when hard things come to us. He wants us to "stand still, and see the salvation of the LORD." He knows our problems so much better than we know them ourselves.

    A Different Spirit
    There were two spies, Caleb and Joshua, who made a different report. They admitted the cities were walled, and that there were giants; but they were not afraid. They said, "Let us go up at once, and possess it; for we are well able to overcome it." All the spies had seen the same things, but through the eye of faith of these two men of God, the land looked different. That is the difference between the man of faith today, and the man who has no faith. The same trials will come to both; but though the man without faith will give up and turn coward, the man with the true purpose of heart to trust God will say, "We are well able to possess it."

    Down through church history there has always been but a "little flock" of Christians, but Christianity has survived through the centuries, defying the powers of Satan to stamp it out. "If God be for us, who can be against us?" (Romans:8:31). With God on our side we shall always win. But we must let God fight the battle His way.

    Questions: 

    1. To what place have the Israelites come?
    2. How long have they been away from Egypt?
    3. What was the Land of Canaan like?
    4. Why did the people want to send out spies?
    5. What was the report of the ten spies?
    6. How did the report of Caleb and Joshua differ?
    7. Did all the spies see the same thing?