What Does Numbers 13:32 Mean?

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.

Numbers 13:32(NASB)
Picture courtesy of Sweet Publishing

Verse of the Day

Abraham is called the father of faith because he believed all that God told him and his faith was reckoned to him as righteousness. It is trusting the living Word of God that delights the Lord, not carrying out a series of good deeds. Hebrews 11 tells us that without faith it is impossible to please the Lord, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. The unbeliever pleases God when he trusts in Christ for salvation, but once saved, we are to keep on living by faith and trusting His Word day by day if we want to please the Lord.

Faith is developed by believing God's Word, but too often, fear of man and anxious thoughts causes faith to falter. And instead of being victorious in life, we find ourselves defeated as we stumble along in our Christian walk. It was a lack of faith that caused the people of Israel to wander for 40 years in the wilderness. God had miraculously brought them out of Egyptian bondage, to bring them into the Land of Canaan, which He promised as an everlasting inheritance to Abraham and his seed, forever. Shockingly, when it was time to go into the land, they failed to trust God and became full of fear.

Twelve men were sent to spy out the land God had promised to give them. They were instructed to scout out the land and see what it was like. They were to report back to Moses about the land and people who lived there; whether they were strong or weak, whether they are few or many, whether the land was good or bad. Moses wanted to know if there were cities or open camps, if their towns were fortified or not, whether the land was fat or lean, whether there were trees and good produce or not.

Having scouted out the land the spies returned to Moses to tell him that it was a wonderful land, flowing with milk and honey. They brought back pomegranates, figs, and a huge cluster of grapes which was so heavy that two of the men had to carry it, to show the people what a great and fruitful land it was. God had promised that He would be with them and would fight for them when they went to conquer the people that lived there... but unbelief caused 10 of the spies to give a negative report to Moses.

They warned that the people in the land were very strong and tall, that there were giants in the land, and reported that in spite of the land being as wonderful as God had said, they could never take the cities because they were too well fortified, nor could they conquer the people because they were too big and strong. We read in Numbers 13: "Thus they told him, and said, 'We went into the land where you sent us; and it certainly does flow with milk and honey, and this is its fruit. Nevertheless, the people who live in the land are strong, and the cities are fortified and very large; and moreover, we saw the descendants of Anak there.'"

Despite God's faithfulness to them in bringing them out of Egyptian slavery and the promises He gave them, ten of the spies were filled with fear and said that it was far beyond their ability to defeat the terrible enemies in Canaan. These ten spies gave a bad report of the land: "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... There also we saw the Nephilim (the sons of Anak are part of the Nephilim) and we became like grasshoppers in our own sight, and so we were in their sight."

This caused the entire nation, with the exception of Joshua and Caleb, to become paralysed with fear. This lack of faith prevented the Israelites from entering the land. The bad report caused the entire company to rebel against God and attempt to stone Moses, which caused the anger of the Lord to burn. God even threatened to smite His people with pestilence and dispossess them, but Moses and Aaron interceded on behalf of the people that the Lord relented. However, because of their lack of faith, that whole generation of Israelites were not allowed to enter the Promised Land. They were destined to wander in the wilderness until every member of the original generation was buried in the desert. Only Caleb and Joshua, the two faithful spies who believed God's Word and told Israel that they could certainly take the Land with God's help, were permitted to enter the Land 40 years later, along with a new generation of Israelites. How sad that a generation of God's people who were miraculously rescued from Egypt, became so fearful of man and refused to trust in the Lord. What a lesson to us of the dangers of unbelief as well as the glory that comes to those that trust in the Lord with all their hearts and do not rely on their own judgement.

We discover in Deuteronomy that the distance it took to walk from Horeb to Kadesh Barnea was only eleven days, and yet Israel wandered for 40 years in the wilderness due to that lack of faith in God's Word. It is easy to criticise those fearful spies who trusted their eyes instead of God's promises, and leaned on their own understanding instead of the promises of the Lord, but how often have we fallen into the same trap and looked at the problems and difficulties we face instead of taking God's Word to heart?

Let us trust that He is in control and cast all our concerns on Him, for He cares for us.

My Prayer

Heavenly Father, thank You for the lessons we can learn from Your Holy Word. Help me to learn from the failures of Israel who allowed their senses and imagination to reject Your Word and fear their enemies, when they listened to the bad report of the 10 fearful spies, instead of trusting Your word and allowing their faith in Your promises to influence them. Help me not to allow myself to become fearful with all the difficulties and dangers in this fallen world that surround me on every side. Help me to keep the eyes of my heart upon Jesus and not lean on my own imagination or understanding. Thank You that all Your promises are 'Yes' and 'Amen' in Christ Jesus, in Whose name I pray, AMEN.

Picture courtesy of Sweet Publishing

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