BY FAITH OR BY SIGHT?
Lord, encourage me through my difficulties.
Read NUMBERS 13:1–3,17–33
13 The Lord said to Moses, 2 “Send some men to explore the land of Canaan, which I am giving to the Israelites. From each ancestral tribe send one of its leaders.”
3 So at the Lord’s command Moses sent them out from the Desert of Paran. All of them were leaders of the Israelites.
17 When Moses sent them to explore Canaan, he said, “Go up through the Negev and on into the hill country. 18 See what the land is like and whether the people who live there are strong or weak, few or many. 19 What kind of land do they live in? Is it good or bad? What kind of towns do they live in? Are they unwalled or fortified? 20 How is the soil? Is it fertile or poor? Are there trees in it or not? Do your best to bring back some of the fruit of the land.” (It was the season for the first ripe grapes.)
21 So they went up and explored the land from the Desert of Zin as far as Rehob, toward Lebo Hamath. 22 They went up through the Negev and came to Hebron, where Ahiman, Sheshai and Talmai, the descendants of Anak, lived. (Hebron had been built seven years before Zoan in Egypt.) 23 When they reached the Valley of Eshkol,[a] they cut off a branch bearing a single cluster of grapes. Two of them carried it on a pole between them, along with some pomegranates and figs. 24 That place was called the Valley of Eshkol because of the cluster of grapes the Israelites cut off there. 25 At the end of forty days they returned from exploring the land.
Report on the Exploration
26 They came back to Moses and Aaron and the whole Israelite community at Kadesh in the Desert of Paran. There they reported to them and to the whole assembly and showed them the fruit of the land. 27 They gave Moses this account: “We went into the land to which you sent us, and it does flow with milk and honey! Here is its fruit. 28 But the people who live there are powerful, and the cities are fortified and very large. We even saw descendants of Anak there. 29 The Amalekites live in the Negev; the Hittites, Jebusites and Amorites live in the hill country; and the Canaanites live near the sea and along the Jordan.”
30 Then Caleb silenced the people before Moses and said, “We should go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it.”
31 But the men who had gone up with him said, “We can’t attack those people; they are stronger than we are.” 32 And they spread among the Israelites a bad report about the land they had explored. They said, “The land we explored devours those living in it. All the people we saw there are of great size. 33 We saw the Nephilim there (the descendants of Anak come from the Nephilim). We seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes, and we looked the same to them.”
a Numbers 13:23 Eshkol means cluster; also in verse 24.
New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
“Help me to walk aright, / more by faith, less by sight; / lead me with heav’nly light, / teach me thy way!” (Benjamin Mansell Ramsey, 1849–1923).
The challenge of Christian living can often be summed up in one question: will I live today by faith or by sight? Though we enter the Christian life by faith alone, the temptation to abandon it is constant. In these verses we see the challenge that the Israelites face on the very border of Canaan. Their challenge parallels ours exactly!
Twelve spies are sent into Canaan at the Lord’s command through Moses (1,2). Each tribe sends one representative, someone with leadership skills (3). These men are commanded to survey the land, the people and the cities (17–20). Samples of the fruit of the land are to be brought back for inspection. They all set out, see the same things, and go to the same places. After forty days they return with a cluster of grapes too large to carry single-handedly (23) and report what they have seen. They all agree that the land is fruitful (27) but that the people are strong and the cities are fortified (28).
That, however, is where the agreement ends. Ten of the spies are of the opinion that conquering the land is a lost cause (31–33), but both Caleb (30) and Joshua are of a different opinion and encourage the people to take possession, as the land can be overcome. What differentiates Caleb and Joshua from their ten companions? They have observed the same Canaan, but they have done so through the lens of the promise God had made in verse 2 and countless times before. God has already given them the land. He has promised. That ends the argument. The giants are now small. It makes city walls surmountable. Caleb and Joshua are living by faith. Paul tells the Corinthians and us to do the same (2 Cor. 5:7).
What about you today? What giants in your life seem too strong? What barriers seem impenetrable? What promises of God are calling you to live by faith rather than sight?
Lord, give me supernatural vision to enable me to see things as You see them. Give me the vision of Caleb and Joshua.
Click here to sign up to receive the EXTRAs via email each quarter.
© 2024 Scripture Union U.S.A. All rights reserved. Reproduction of the whole or any part of the contents without written permission is prohibited.
Encounter with God is published in the USA under license from Scripture Union England and Wales, Trinity House, Opal Court, Opal Drive, Fox Milne, Milton Keynes, MK15 0DF.