Lessons From The 12 Spies
There are several important lessons that we can learn from the story of the 12 spies that Moses sent into the Promised Land. There is an insight into the character of God in this story. And there is also insight into how God wants us to trust Him and follow His will and plans. Even when His will appears too difficult for us to do.
And there are some good lessons from the people of Israel in this story of what not to do when following God. We will dive into this great story of Moses and the 12 spies to learn these very valuable lessons.
God’s Covenant Promise to Abraham
This story actually begins well before Moses’ time. It began with Abraham and God’s covenant promise that his descendants would become a great nation. God also promised to Abraham that He would give his descendants the promised land, which would become the land of Israel.
Genesis 15:13-21 “God said to Abram, “Know for certain that your descendants will be strangers in a land that is not theirs, where they will be enslaved and oppressed four hundred years. 14 But I will also judge the nation whom they will serve, and afterward they will come out with many possessions. 15 As for you, you shall go to your fathers in peace; you will be buried at a good old age. 16 Then in the fourth generation they will return here, for the iniquity of the Amorite is not yet complete.”
18 On that day the Lord made a covenant with Abram, saying, “To your descendants I have given this land, from the river of Egypt as far as the great river, the river Euphrates: 19 the Kenite and the Kenizzite and the Kadmonite 20 and the Hittite and the Perizzite and the Rephaim 21 and the Amorite and the Canaanite and the Girgashite and the Jebusite.”
God Always Does What He Promises or Says
Lessons From The 12 Spies – Lesson 1:
God’s character is perfect, and His is perfectly faithful. God always keeps His promises. God’s promises are actually guarantees. When God promised the Promised Land to Abraham and his descendants, it was already a done deal. The Promised Land was already theirs. They only needed to go in and take it.
God Ordered Moses to Send 12 Spies Into the Promised Land
Before God told Moses to send 12 spies into the promised land to check it out, the people had already rebelled and sinned against God various times. Now they were finally ready to go into the promised land. The idea was to send 12 of the leaders from each tribe of Israel to spy out the land and the people in it.
Number 13:1-2 “Then the Lord spoke to Moses saying,2 “Send out for yourself men so that they may spy out the land of Canaan, which I am going to give to the sons of Israel; you shall send a man from each of their fathers’ tribes, every one a leader among them.”
Numbers 13:17-20 “When Moses sent them to spy out the land of Canaan, he said to them, “Go up there into the Negev; then go up into the hill country. 18 See what the land is like, and whether the people who live in it are strong or weak, whether they are few or many. 19 How is the land in which they live, is it good or bad? And how are the cities in which they live, are they like open camps or with fortifications? 20 How is the land, is it fat or lean? Are there trees in it or not? Make an effort then to get some of the fruit of the land.” Now the time was the time of the first ripe grapes.”
The 12 spies did as God had commanded and went and spied out the land for 40 days. Then they came back to Moses and the people and gave their report.
The 12 Spies Report to The People About the Promised Land
The 12 spies reported that the land was indeed a good land “flowing with milk and honey”. But 10 of the spies told the people that there was no way they could defeat the people living in the land. They were supposedly too strong and were giants. They caused the people to become afraid and grumble against Moses and God.
Only 2 of the spies gave a good report. The 10 spies with the bad report were looking at the situation from their own eyes and their own feelings of fear. Caleb and Joshua were looking at the situation from eyes and hearts of faith.
Numbers 13:30-32 “Then Caleb quieted the people before Moses and said, “We should by all means go up and take possession of it, for we will surely overcome it.” 31 But the men who had gone up with him said, “We are not able to go up against the people, for they are too strong for us.” 32 So they gave out to the sons of Israel a bad report of the land which they had spied out, saying, “The land through which we have gone, in spying it out, is a land that devours its inhabitants; and all the people whom we saw in it are men of great size.”
Only Caleb and Joshua Believed That God Would Give Them The Promised Land
Caleb and Joshua were the only spies that saw the challenge with faith. They saw that even though the enemies in the promised land were strong and were giants, God was far greater. And God had given His word that He would give the land to Israel. Since they had faith in God, they knew that God would come through on His promise. They knew that is part of God’s perfect character. God is perfectly faithful.
Lessons From the 12 Spies – Lesson 2:
Doing God’s kingdom work and mission requires faith. When God calls us to do something, He is really inviting us to join Him in what He is doing. He will do the work through us, if we respond in faith. When Jesus tells us to “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations…” (Matthew 28:19-20), He is telling us to do things that we are not capable of doing by ourselves. We need to know that if we do our part and obey Him, then He will do His part and empower us to successfully fulfill what He has commanded (“and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age”) (also see Matthew 4:19 & Acts 1:8)
In Part 2 we will look at more important lessons from the story of the 12 spies.
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