Sixteen years ago, I packed my 2 cats in my hatchback and set out for the biggest move of my life — Florida to Arizona. The trip took 4 days. My cats were quiet while I was driving, but as soon as I stopped for gas or to eat, they would start meowing, “Are we there yet?!” They complained — a lot. Just like the Israelites. They complained a lot. What my cats couldn’t understand is that I had my trust and faith fully on God. My life was in His hands — and still is!
It took the Israelites 2 years to get to the edge of the Promised Land. Too bad they just didn’t have enough faith and trust in God to go further. Let’s dig in….
Numbers 13 — Exploring the Promised Land
The Lord now said to Moses, 2 “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.” 3 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. 4 These were the tribes and the names of their leaders: (you can read them here.)
Two names that will stand out are Caleb, from the tribe of Judah, and Joshua, from the tribe of Ephraim, Joseph’s son. Joshua’s name was Hoshea, which means “saves”. But Moses changed it to Joshua, which means, “God saves”. In Hebrew, Jesus’ name is Yeshua/Joshua and is called Yeshua HaMashiach (Jesus the Messiah or Jesus the Christ).
17 Moses gave the men these instructions as he sent them out to explore the land: “Go north through the Negev into the hill country. 18 See what the land is like, and find out whether the people living there are strong or weak, few or many. 19 See what kind of land they live in. Is it good or bad? Do their towns have walls, or are they unprotected like open camps? 20 Is the soil fertile or poor? Are there many trees? Do your best to bring back samples of the crops you see.” (It happened to be the season for harvesting the first ripe grapes.)
21 So they went up and explored the land from the wilderness of Zin as far as Rehob, near Lebo-hamath. 22 Going north, they passed through the Negev and arrived at Hebron, where Ahiman, Sheshai, and Talmai—all descendants of Anak—lived. (The ancient town of Hebron was founded seven years before the Egyptian city of Zoan.) 23 When they came to the valley of Eshcol, they cut down a branch with a single cluster of grapes so large that it took two of them to carry it on a pole between them! They also brought back samples of the pomegranates and figs. 24 That place was called the valley of Eshcol (which means “cluster”), because of the cluster of grapes the Israelite men cut there.
The Scouting Report
25 After exploring the land for forty days, the men returned 26 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. 27 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. 28 But the people living there are powerful, and their towns are large and fortified. We even saw giants there, the descendants of Anak! 29 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.”
30 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!”
31 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!” 32 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. 33 We even saw giants (Nephilim) there, the descendants of Anak. Next to them we felt like grasshoppers, and that’s what they thought, too!”Numbers 13 NLT
Wait a minute! Weren’t the Nephilim all killed during the flood(Genesis 6-10)? Supposedly the bad ones. However, we are not told if Noah or any of his son’s wives could have had Nephilim DNA. Remember, one of Noah’s sons, Ham, was cursed. The Canaanites and the rest of the people in Canaan descend from him. Included in there, by the way, are the Philistines — of which Goliath is one — a “giant”.
Numbers 14 — the People Rebel
Then the whole community began weeping aloud, and they cried all night. 2 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. 3 “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?” 4 Then they plotted among themselves, “Let’s choose a new leader and go back to Egypt!”
5 Then Moses and Aaron fell face down on the ground before the whole community of Israel. 6 Two of the men who had explored the land, Joshua son of Nun and Caleb son of Jephunneh, tore their clothing. 7 They said to all the people of Israel, “The land we traveled through and explored is a wonderful land! 8 And if the Lord is pleased with us, he will bring us safely into that land and give it to us. It is a rich land flowing with milk and honey. 9 Do not rebel against the Lord, and don’t be afraid of the people of the land. They are only helpless prey to us! They have no protection, but the Lord is with us! Don’t be afraid of them!”
10 But the whole community began to talk about stoning Joshua and Caleb. Then the glorious presence of the Lord appeared to all the Israelites at the Tabernacle. 11 And the Lord said to Moses, “How long will these people treat me with contempt? Will they never believe me, even after all the miraculous signs I have done among them? 12 I will disown them and destroy them with a plague. Then I will make you into a nation greater and mightier than they are!”
Moses Intercedes for the People
13 But Moses objected. “What will the Egyptians think when they hear about it?” he asked the Lord. “They know full well the power you displayed in rescuing your people from Egypt. 14 Now if you destroy them, the Egyptians will send a report to the inhabitants of this land, who have already heard that you live among your people. They know, Lord, that you have appeared to your people face to face and that your pillar of cloud hovers over them. They know that you go before them in the pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night. 15 Now if you slaughter all these people with a single blow, the nations that have heard of your fame will say, 16 ‘The Lord was not able to bring them into the land he swore to give them, so he killed them in the wilderness.’
17 “Please, Lord, prove that your power is as great as you have claimed. For you said, 18 ‘The Lord is slow to anger and filled with unfailing love, forgiving every kind of sin and rebellion. But he does not excuse the guilty. He lays the sins of the parents upon their children; the entire family is affected—even children in the third and fourth generations.’ 19 In keeping with your magnificent, unfailing love, please pardon the sins of this people, just as you have forgiven them ever since they left Egypt.”
20 Then the Lord said, “I will pardon them as you have requested. 21 But as surely as I live, and as surely as the earth is filled with the Lord’s glory, 22 not one of these people will ever enter that land. They have all seen my glorious presence and the miraculous signs I performed both in Egypt and in the wilderness, but again and again they have tested me by refusing to listen to my voice. 23 They will never even see the land I swore to give their ancestors. None of those who have treated me with contempt will ever see it. 24 But my servant Caleb has a different attitude than the others have. He has remained loyal to me, so I will bring him into the land he explored. His descendants will possess their full share of that land. 25 Now turn around, and don’t go on toward the land where the Amalekites and Canaanites live. Tomorrow you must set out for the wilderness in the direction of the Red Sea.”
The Lord Punishes the Israelites
26 Then the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, 27 “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. 28 Now tell them this: ‘As surely as I live, declares the Lord, I will do to you the very things I heard you say. 29 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. 30 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.
31 “‘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. 32 But as for you, you will drop dead in this wilderness. 33 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.
34 “‘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.’ 35 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!”
36 The ten men Moses had sent to explore the land—the ones who incited rebellion against the Lord with their bad report— 37 were struck dead with a plague before the Lord. 38 Of the twelve who had explored the land, only Joshua and Caleb remained alive.
39 When Moses reported the Lord’s words to all the Israelites, the people were filled with grief. 40 Then they got up early the next morning and went to the top of the range of hills. “Let’s go,” they said. “We realize that we have sinned, but now we are ready to enter the land the Lord has promised us.”
41 But Moses said, “Why are you now disobeying the Lord’s orders to return to the wilderness? It won’t work. 42 Do not go up into the land now. You will only be crushed by your enemies because the Lord is not with you. 43 When you face the Amalekites and Canaanites in battle, you will be slaughtered. The Lord will abandon you because you have abandoned the Lord.”
44 But the people defiantly pushed ahead toward the hill country, even though neither Moses nor the Ark of the Lord’s Covenant left the camp. 45 Then the Amalekites and the Canaanites who lived in those hills came down and attacked them and chased them back as far as Hormah.Numbers 14 NLT
If the Israelites had just a little more faith, just a little more trust in God, they would have saved themselves 40 years of wandering in the desert and dying in the wilderness. They blew it. Even when they tried to take on all the “ites” themselves — without God — they failed — they lost the fight. After 40 years of wandering in the wilderness, the only people left to enter the Promised Land were Caleb, Joshua, and all the children of the men 20 years or older that were counted in Numbers 1. The ones who perished in the wilderness, were those who had no faith. Those who couldn’t put their whole trust in God. Those who were overcome by fear.
Where is Jesus?
Here is a quote from Spoken Gospel…
But they did not believe this Good News. That is why they were kept from entering God’s rest in the Promised Land.
The book of Hebrews takes it a step further by saying the true and final rest God offers remains today (Heb 4:9). And this rest is only available through Jesus.
Jesus has already defeated our true enemy of sin on the cross. Jesus has already conquered the true giant of death in his resurrection. He has already entered into the final Promise Land at the right hand of God, where he sits and rests from his perfectly accomplished work (Heb 10:12). All we must do is have faith like the Israelites failed to do.
Both this text in Numbers and in Hebrews offer us the same warning. Don’t lose faith (Heb 4:7). Believe the Gospel. Trust that God is powerful enough to save you. Believe that Jesus has earned what you couldn’t earn yourself.
Don’t be like the presumptions Israelites who tried to enter into the land without God and lost. You can’t earn this yourself. Trust and rest.“Jesus in all of Numbers” by Spoken Gospel
“Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.”Matthew 11:28 NLT
33 “I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”John 16:33 NLT
Our giants are sin and death. However, Jesus overcame, so we could overcome! God is bigger than any giants you may be facing. Let go and let God!
Believe. Repent. Be Baptized. Receive the Holy Spirit.
- Believe — have Faith — that Jesus is the Christ and He died taking your sins away forever and that He rose from the dead 3 days later.
- Repent of your sins — stop sinning! Do a complete 180 degree turn in your life and surrender your life to Him.
- Be Baptized — show the world and yourself that you have died to your old life and are born again in Christ.
- Receive the Holy Spirit in your heart.
Soli Deo Gloria! To God Alone Be the Glory!
Top Image by Sweet Publishing from FreeBibleImages.org,
(CC BY-SA 3.0)