Monday, October 22, 2007


My lesson yesterday was on Numbers 13-- along with the next chapter, one of the most important passages in Old Testament history.

The narrative starts with Moses sending 12 spies into Canaan as preparation for their "invasion". (In Deuteronomy 1:21-24, we learn the context: that Moses had said it was time to go in, but the people wanted to send in spies; Moses agreed and apparently God was ok with the idea.)

Sending in spies was not necessarily a problem: although God had promised them victory, leaving out appropriate preparation could be seen as testing God. In Luke, Jesus instructs his disciples to "count the costs" of following Him. So too with the people of Israel as they prepared for battle.

After the spies return, 13:26-29 details their report-- 26-27's fruit, but 28-29's fight. (G. Campbell Morgan spends an entire page on the word "but" in this passage!) Like any solid analysis, they focused on the expected benefits and costs of their actions. And to this point, no one draws any inferences about the future. There's just excitement about the land but sobriety in assessing its defenses.

But in 13:30-33, the spies give their conclusions. Caleb weighs in first. (Although Joshua agreed with him, Caleb would have been seen as more objective than Moses' right-hand man.) Caleb acknowledged the costs but expressed a confidence that God would do as He had said and that Israel would be victorious. The ten spies were of a different mindset. Their objective facade fades and is replaced by a set of exaggerations meant to tilt the debate in their direction.

The funny thing was that the 2 spies saw the same thing as the 10 spies-- but their faith and thus, their assessment varied widely.

In chapter 14 (next week), we learn about how the people respond...


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