Numbers 13-14 is one of the most tragic passages in all of scripture. After hundreds of years in slavery and captivity, God finally brings his people to the borders of their Promised Land. God had told their ancestors Abraham, Isaac and Jacob that he would give to them a good land, flowing with milk and honey. Persevering through a long and arduous journey, God had finally brought his people to the cusp of fulfilling that promise.
Then 10 cowards ruined it for everyone.
Moses choses one representative from each of the tribes of Israel to examine the land that had been promised to them. These spies were supposed to scour the land, survey its inhabitants and bring back some of its fruit. The 12 spies accomplished this task, but 10 of them also brought back hopelessness.
10 spies said that the land was occupied with giants and people the Israelites had no hope in conquering. They reported that the land was indeed as good as God had advertised, yet they didn’t believe that God was good enough to bring them into it. They soured the people to God’s promise and his provision. The God who had led them through the Red Sea wasn’t enough to lead them to their new home.
10 spies turned a nation, but two did their best to stem the tide.
Joshua and Caleb were two of the men chosen to survey the Promised Land. They saw everything that the other 10 had seen, but also so much more. The 10 saw only the inhabitants and the obstacles, but Joshua and Caleb saw every possibility. They saw the houses that could become their homes, the vineyards that could feed their families and the land that would fulfill God’s promise. Where the 10 saw fear and despair, Joshua and Caleb saw possibilities and hope.
When we look at our lives and the world around us, are we more like Joshua and Caleb or the other 10 spies? Do we see obstacles and give up hope? Or, because we trust in God’s goodness, power and faithfulness, do we see opportunities and continue to persevere? God is bigger than anything that we could face and we need to trust that he’s leading us somewhere truly good. God had been orchestrating his people’s entrance into the Promised Land for hundreds of years, but when the moment finally came, the people refused.
We cannot refuse the good that God wants to do in our lives. Sometimes that good may come through seasons of difficulty and heartache, but even then we need to trust that God is doing something. Joshua and Caleb believed that about God and were rewarded for their belief. Of all the adults who walked out of Egypt, they were the only two who walked into the Promised Land. If we can trust God in the same manner, then he too will lead us to the good he has promised.