Scripture for Week of February 9-15

Numbers 13: 1-33 (NIV)

1 The Lord said to Moses, 2 “Send some men to explore the land of Canaan, which I am giving to the Israelites. From each ancestral tribe send one of its leaders.”
3 So at the Lord’s command Moses sent them out from the Desert of Paran. All of them were leaders of the Israelites. 4 These are their names:
from the tribe of Reuben, Shammua son of Zakkur;
5 from the tribe of Simeon, Shaphat son of Hori;
6 from the tribe of Judah, Caleb son of Jephunneh;
7 from the tribe of Issachar, Igal son of Joseph;
8 from the tribe of Ephraim, Hoshea son of Nun;
9 from the tribe of Benjamin, Palti son of Raphu;
10 from the tribe of Zebulun, Gaddiel son of Sodi;
11 from the tribe of Manasseh (a tribe of Joseph), Gaddi son of Susi;
12 from the tribe of Dan, Ammiel son of Gemalli;
13 from the tribe of Asher, Sethur son of Michael;
14 from the tribe of Naphtali, Nahbi son of Vophsi;
15 from the tribe of Gad, Geuel son of Maki.
16 These are the names of the men Moses sent to explore the land. (Moses gave Hoshea son of Nun the name Joshua.)
17 When Moses sent them to explore Canaan, he said, “Go up through the Negev and on into the hill country. 18 See what the land is like and whether the people who live there are strong or weak, few or many. 19 What kind of land do they live in? Is it good or bad? What kind of towns do they live in? Are they unwalled or fortified? 20 How is the soil? Is it fertile or poor? Are there trees in it or not? Do your best to bring back some of the fruit of the land.” (It was the season for the first ripe grapes.)
21 So they went up and explored the land from the Desert of Zin as far as Rehob, toward Lebo Hamath. 22 They went up through the Negev and came to Hebron, where Ahiman, Sheshai and Talmai, the descendants of Anak, lived. (Hebron had been built seven years before Zoan in Egypt.) 23 When they reached the Valley of Eshkol,[a] they cut off a branch bearing a single cluster of grapes. Two of them carried it on a pole between them, along with some pomegranates and figs. 24 That place was called the Valley of Eshkol because of the cluster of grapes the Israelites cut off there. 25 At the end of forty days they returned from exploring the land. 26 They came back to Moses and Aaron and the whole Israelite community at Kadesh in the Desert of Paran. There they reported to them and to the whole assembly and showed them the fruit of the land. 27 They gave Moses this account: “We went into the land to which you sent us, and it does flow with milk and honey! Here is its fruit. 28 But the people who live there are powerful, and the cities are fortified and very large. We even saw descendants of Anak there. 29 The Amalekites live in the Negev; the Hittites, Jebusites and Amorites live in the hill country; and the Canaanites live near the sea and along the Jordan.”
30 Then Caleb silenced the people before Moses and said, “We should go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it.” 31 But the men who had gone up with him said, “We can’t attack those people; they are stronger than we are.” 32 And they spread among the Israelites a bad report about the land they had explored. They said, “The land we explored devours those living in it. All the people we saw there are of great size. 33 We saw the Nephilim there (the descendants of Anak come from the Nephilim). We seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes, and we looked the same to them.”


14 replies
  1. Pastor Lee
    Pastor Lee says:

    Notice in verse 16 that Moses changes the name of Hoshea to Joshua. The only name changed mention and it just happens to be the future leader. The key is in the meaning of the name (thereby the intention of life identification through name). Hoshea means “he saves.” There is a clear desire to change the message from a name that reflects mans efforts to save to a message that God is the one who saves. We know that because the new name, Joshua, means “Yahweh saves.” Moses clearly knew that when the spies returned, it would be God who would be the force of success, not man’s efforts, as proven time and time again since Egypt. When the spies returned they depended on the potential of their own abilities and not God’s promise. Thereby instead of taking what God had promised (land), they proposed going back to Egypt!
    We must follow God’s calling knowing it’s His potential work in and through us is the primary driving force, not our abilities and talents.

  2. Wes Harrelson
    Wes Harrelson says:

    Courage is the product of faith in action. Caleb demonstrated great courage but only because he understood God’s faithfulness and his faith was built on that foundation. This passage is a reminder to me that God sees our hearts and men only see what is visible on the outside.

  3. Art Fulks
    Art Fulks says:

    God had told Moses that He would give Israel the promised land. Sending the 12 spies to survey the situation was God’s idea. I wonder if the ones that were chosen were all convinced of God’s promise before going?

    I am reminded of a scene from the movie, “Pearl Harbor” where FDR is trying to find one of his military advisors who thinks there is potential to defeat Japan. FDR seems to be the only one who believes it was our nation’s destiny to be victorious…until one submarine officer comes up with a crazy idea that turns into the Doolittle Raid. Caleb must have been a submarine captain. I also wonder if we had Facebook and Twitter back then, if the negative perceptions of FDR’s miliatary leaders would have been out in the public or on cable news. Would that have changed the outcome of WWII?

    Although it is often difficult, as believers who have the entire Bible as our guide, we should look at adversity through a different lense that is confident in the power and purposes of God…who has already declared our future. That does not mean that we should not take an honest look at the circumstances, whether great or difficult. And if we are going to take advice or counsel, we should make sure that our advisors have the same Biblical perspective of God’s Truth and our future.

  4. Ben Brezina
    Ben Brezina says:

    I love the fact that Moses gave Hoshea the name Joshua. His name went from “salvation” to “the LORD is salvation”. Moses spoke truth and identity into Joshua by giving him a name that continually reminded him of the source of his strength and salvation. God knew that Joshua needed this encouragement, and he lived out his new name well as he spied out the land. He remembered that salvation comes from the LORD and that no obstacle is to big for God. Joshua continued on in the identity Moses gave him during his time of leading the nation of Israel. What we embrace as our identity has a tremendous impact on our behavior. Under the Spirit’s leading, I think we also should be giving others new names and reminding them of their new standing and identity in Christ. What a great way to encourage and build each other up in the truth.

    “But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called “Today,” so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.” Hebrews 3:13

  5. Joey Rodgers
    Joey Rodgers says:

    It might come as a surprise that Caleb’s name means “dog”. Born as a slave during Israel’s bondage to Egypt, it is quite likely that his father Jephunneh (who was not a Jew but a Gentile) was defeated by the conditions of Egypt and was saddened that he was bringing a son into the wicked, brutal world of Egypt – so he named his son “dog”. And his environment didn’t make it any easier as he grew up in the ghettos of Egypt as a slave under the terror of an Egyptian taskmaster.

    How easy would it have been for Caleb to allow his circumstances to dictate his character and his place in this world? How easy would it have been for him to have become embittered and angry with God and with his plight in life. But that is not what occurred. Instead of embracing his name as a dog, he embraced the person and promises of his God. As a result, out of the depths of despair and tyranny, Caleb found courage in his faith to hear the call ohf God and to see the vision of the Land of Promise. Quite simply, God used him mightily throughout his life so that he didn’t just start well, but he also finished well. Consider this… at 85, Caleb took on the mountain of the Nephilim and the sons of Anak – and claimed one of the greatest victories for God’s glory of the Old Testament.

  6. Mark Matson
    Mark Matson says:

    The turning point in this story is in verse 30…..”Then Caleb…..” Two key components of this passage jump out at me when I come to this verse. Those two components are Opportunity and Optimism. Can you imagine what the dialogue must have been between these guys during the 40 day mission. It is obvious that many had the impression and feeling of despair, defeat, fear, and passivity. But through the eyes of Caleb, he saw what God was doing and the next step in the journey for the Israelites.
    What about us today… quickly are we to be bound by negativity and clouded vision that we totally miss the opportunities that the Lord Jesus puts before us…..are we a people of submission to the Lord’s leading and guidance or are we a people of apathy and defeat. Don’t know about you but I pray I would have the courage, leadership, and that killer instinct of Caleb.

  7. Rob L
    Rob L says:

    This verse stuck out to me, “And they spread among the Israelites a bad report about the land they had explored.” Fear often loves company. We often look for a way out of doing what we know God has called us to do by gaining consensus from others. We may mask it as “Godly counsel,” but in reality we are often looking for people to validate our fears and help us justify our disobedience. Sometimes, in the church, we call these people “committees.” 😉

  8. SoundMan
    SoundMan says:

    I can recall as a child having a great imagination. I could go from playing a sport and making a monumental world series grand slam to being a space traveler as I rode my bike at the speed of light. Then one day, seemingly overnight “life happened”. All of the sudden work, marriage, bills, kids; all fine things but what happened to my imagination? My focus became on the moment and “who do I serve next.” My focus became so short-sighted that I forgot there is a great big world out there to imagine and explore.
    The similarity to this passage is that all too often we take our chores and “responsibilities” on our own shoulders. We analyze the problem, come up with a solution that makes sense to us and take action. Our focus becomes so worldly and self-centered that we forget that we have The Power of the universe inside us. The same God that formed everything by speaking it into being is in relationship with us. Which outcome would I rather have: 1) One that is within my limited resource to provide or 2) An outcome that only the creator of all things with unlimited resources can provide. So what’s the solution? James 4:8 summarizes it really well: Draw closer to Him and He will draw closer to you, remove the sin that separates you. Pray without ceasing. Listen to His voice. Follow His guidance by faith knowing that the outcome will be His. Become again as a child.

  9. Kim
    Kim says:

    I think it is interesting that Moses changed the message – not by much but he did change it. God told Moses to “Send some men to explore the land of Canaan.which I am giving to the Israelites.” They should have just gone and reported back the facts about the land. There was not a question about the Israelites having this land because God was giving it to them. Moses tells the group to find out specific things about the strength of the people and their cities as well as if the land is good or bad. At the end of the day, none of this really mattered because this is what God was giving them. How many times has God told us what he wanted for our lives and we decide we want to examine it to see if it is what we want? We then decide it is too frightening or challenging for us to continue. We forget that God says “I am giving.” We don’t need to figure it out. I think God sent them to show them how great he is by giving them the land of these powerful looking people and fortified cities? Most of the spies decided they only had their abilities to take the land and forgot “I am” was providing it. I know I’ve been stuck in circumstances of trying to do it in my own power and forget about “I am” This story should remind us to listen to God’s instructions and do not change it.

  10. Mark Thornley
    Mark Thornley says:

    All 12 spies saw the same thing but two of them saw the promised land through a different lens. Anyone who wears glasses knows what the world looks like without them on or if you wear the wrong prescription. Things are distorted and unclear and we are unsure what we are seeing. Joshua and Caleb were looking at the promised land through the lens of God’s promises and God’s faithfulness. They had no doubt, that even though the challenges were great, God had promised the land to them and that they should do it. Their fear was overwhelmed by their trust in God. How much more could we be bold for God if we looked at our challenges with the correct lens.

  11. David Bearden
    David Bearden says:

    The defeat of the descendants of Anak as proposed by Caleb is later detailed in Joshua 11:21—

    “Then Joshua came at that time and cut off the Anakim from the hill country, from Hebron, from Debir, from Anab and from all the hill country of Judah and from all the hill country of Israel. Joshua utterly destroyed them with their cities.”

    However, the next verse reveals a remnant of these giants still occupying “Gaza, Gath, and Ashdod,” which later provides a probable hereditary link to Goliath in 1 Samuel 17. Interestingly, the Israelites’ response to Goliath in 1 Samuel mirrors their reaction to the Nephilim in the above passage: “Then [Goliath] said, ‘This day I defy the armies of Israel! Give me a man and let us fight each other.” On hearing the Philistine’s words, Saul and all the Israelites were dismayed and terrified.’”

    I think the same is true of our lives. Like the “bad reports” sent throughout the camps of Moses and Saul, our thoughts can lead our actions (and our tongues) to become like terrorists to the Spirit and the Body, thus leaving us bound-up and incapacitated by fear, cemented and immobilized by the flippant distractions and worries of the world. I think we all experience this at one time or another.

    Of course, in His time, God eventually positions and empowers David to defeat the champion of Philistines, just as He positions and empowers Joshua and the Israelites to destroy the sons of Anak. However, it’s crucial not to miss that both David and Joshua are powerless in the face of these battles. God is the solitary giant-slayer and redeemer of his people, and His decision to use Joshua and David comes through their awareness of this truth. This comes to light first in Joshua’s conquest of the Promised Land:

    “The Lord said to Joshua, ‘Do not be afraid of them, because by this time tomorrow I will hand all of them, slain, over to Israel. You are to hamstring their horses and burn their chariots.’ So Joshua and his whole army came against them suddenly at the Waters of Merom and attacked them, and the Lord gave them into the hand of Israel.” (Joshua 11:6-8)

    And later in David’s fight with the giant:

    David said to the Philistine, “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the Lord will deliver you into my hands, and I’ll strike you down and cut off your head.’” (1 Samuel 17:45-46)

  12. Doug Barclay
    Doug Barclay says:

    Each of the 12 spies was a leader from his tribe. They were instructed to explore the land and bring back a report of what they saw. This information would be helpful in developing a strategic plan on HOW to invade Canaan, not IF they were to move forward. Ten of the 12 spies lost sight of the fact that this was the Promised Land – God promised to grant them possession of this territory.

    Joshua and Caleb believed God would provide victory. It doesn’t say that victory would come easy, but God did say the Israelites would inherit this land. The 10 leaders who let fear override their faith caused this generation to spend 40 years wandering in the dessert – and they all died before entering Canaan, with the exception of Joshua and Caleb. Os Hillman has a great quote for this scenario – “God will not allow a faith decision to be based on perceived outcome.” How often do we think we are acting in faith when we have an idea of what the outcome may look like? It is much easier to walk by sight than by faith. Fear is one of our enemy’s greatest weapons. Fear breeds doubt and hinders our ability to proceed in faith. “We need to look at our problems in light of God’s power instead of looking at God in the shadow of our problems” (unknown).

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