These are the names of the men whom Moses sent to spy out the land. And Moses called Hoshea the son of Nun, Joshua. Then Moses sent them to spy out the land of Canaan, and said to them, “Go up this way into the South, and go up to the mountains, and see what the land is like: whether the people who dwell in it are strong or weak, few or many; whether the land they dwell in is good or bad; whether the cities they inhabit are like camps or strongholds; whether the land is rich or poor; and whether there are forests there or not. Be of good courage. And bring some of the fruit of the land.” Now the time was the season of the first ripe grapes. (Numbers 13:16-20)
Where The Leaders Of Israel Failed
Joshua the son of Nun and Caleb son of Jephunneh are two of the influential men of the Old Testament. Joshua was called the assistant of Moses and would lead the people into the land of promise following the death of Moses. Caleb is remembered as a man who had a devoted spirit to the Lord and followed the will of God fully. These two men were the only ones from the generation of those coming out of Egypt that would see the promised land. A few months after the victory of God over the Egyptians, the people of Israel stood at the threshold of a land flowing with milk and honey promised to them by the Lord. All of the hardships of Egyptian bondage were behind them and God had given them a law that would make them into the great nation of Israel. Generations before Abraham had been promised the land that stood before the people of God and they had arrived to possess the land fulfilling the promise made to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. In preparation of the conquering of a land already given to them, the Lord tells Moses to send men to spy out the land of Canaan. These spies would be men from each tribe and a leader from among them would be chosen to tell the wonderful story of the promised land. The men chosen were not ordinary men but leaders of the people. They were men who served their tribes as counsel, guides and examples of courage in the face of danger. It would be the faith of these men the whole of Israel would rely. Names like Shammua, Shaphat, Igal, Palti, Gaddiel, Gaddi, Ammiel, Sethur, Nahbi and Geuel were well known among the people and regarded as the heroes of the day. They had shown themselves capable of leadership and the people looked to them for their direction. Twelve men selected to spy out the land and for forty days the twelve spies searched throughout the land of Canaan for weaknesses and strengths. Twelve faithful leaders went to spy the land but only two returned.
The twelve leaders returned from spying showing the people the incredible bounty of the land. They described a land that flowed with milk and honey. In the Valley of Eshcol they cut down a branch of one cluster of grapes which two men carried between them on a pole. Pomegranates and figs were brought back to show the people. Everyone was amazed at the bounty of the promised land and anxious to hear the news from the twelve leaders. Ten of the spies disheartened the people with a report of the impossibility to conquer the land. They saw the people strong and the cities fortified and very large. Giants lived in the land. The hearts of the ten spies were filled with fear. This was passed on to the people and dissension arose in the ranks of the Israelites. What the ten leaders of Israel did not see was the power of God overcoming the people of Canaan. They had witnessed the plagues the Lord brought upon Egypt and walked across the Red Sea on dry land. The army of Egypt and Amalek had been defeated by the power of God but the ten leaders did not believe God could destroy the people of Canaan. Through their disbelief the nation of Israel rebelled against the Lord and refused to enter the land. Forty years later Joshua and Caleb delivered the remnant of those who came out of Egypt into the land of promise.
Few remember or know the names of the ten spies. Only the faithful two are redeemed on the pages of God’s historical record. Joshua and Caleb would be forever remembered as the leaders who had faith in the Lord to accomplish the impossible. The ten men who did not believe in the Lord are not remembered. There is a lesson about faith in the story of the spies who searched out the land of promise. Among the people twelve men were looked upon as leaders. Of the twelve only two of the leaders looked to God for their faith and hope. Joshua and Caleb trusted in the power of God; the other ten did not. Leadership is not something possessed by men because of their wealth, prestige or honor given to them by others. True leadership comes when a man becomes a servant of the Lord. Failing to trust in the power of God caused the nation of Israel to wander forty years in the wilderness and for generations to die because of rebellion. The leaders of God’s people failed that day because they trusted in their own power instead of divine power. In the church of the Lord there can be men in leadership serving as shepherds of the flock who trust in themselves more than the Lord. The mission of the church will fail as the leadership of the ten spies failed the people of Israel. Jesus wants His church to be guided by men of faith and courage and trusting in the will of the Lord. It is not a matter of wealth that makes a man great or prestige among the people. Elders who serve the Lord with a willing mind to trust in the word of the Lord for their hope will find many victories against the giants of an immoral land. It takes courage to stand for truth in a world filled with lies. Only the faithful will be remembered. Twelve men went to spy the land but only two returned with faith.