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Spy Service

Key References: Numbers 13; Patriarchs and Prophets, chap. 34, pp. 387-389; The Bible Story (1994), vol. 3, pp. 26-31; Our Beliefs nos. 8, 7, 17

Power Text

“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’ ” (Numbers 13:30).

Power Point

We can face risks with courage when we serve God.

When have you felt called by God to do something that required you to be more brave than you felt? Maybe it was something small, but it still required courage on your part. Imagine being asked to be a spy.

Moses studied the 12 men standing before him. He had selected them carefully—one from each of the 12 tribes. His craggy face suddenly crinkled into a smile. “It’s time!” he exclaimed. His eyes shone. “And you 12 will be the first!”

Caleb took a deep breath. He could hardly believe that he was one of the chosen ones. He would be one of the very first Israelites to set foot in the land that the Lord had promised to give them. “Oh, thank You, Lord, for this great favor,” he may have prayed silently.

All 12 men listened attentively to Moses’ instructions, which sent them north, into the land of Canaan. He said to them, “Go up through the Negev and on into the hill country. See what the land is like and whether the people who live there are strong or weak, few or many. 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? 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” (Numbers 13:17-20).

The men agreed together that they should leave before the sun came up in the morning. Then they may have hurried back to their tents to say goodbye to their families and get a little rest. Most likely it was impossible to rest. No doubt friends, neighbors, and relatives, bursting with curiosity, all wanted to talk about the spies’ mission. “What do you suppose the land is like?” they asked. “What do you think you’ll find?”

Stars were still hanging in the sky when the spies left camp the next morning. They began to hike north in the pitchy darkness. They had a lot of territory to cover to complete their assignment.

The spies discovered that the land of Canaan was rich and beautiful. “Look at those pasturelands,” Caleb exulted. “Our flocks and herds will grow fat here and prosper.”

The spies learned that Canaan had abundant water. There were plentiful forests where timber could be cut. They found that the land was big, the cities were big, and some of the people were big too. In fact, they discovered giants living in the city of Hebron.

The spies spent 40 days in the land of Canaan and then returned to report their findings to Moses. The men remembered that he had told them to bring some fruit back with them, so they brought a bunch of grapes they were certain would impress him. The single bunch was so heavy that it took two of the men to carry it on a pole between them! They also brought back golden-red pomegranates with hard rinds, and sweet figs.

The whole camp gathered to hear the spies’ report. “It’s a rich and fertile land!” Shammua began. “Just look at this fruit!”

“The people of Canaan are incredibly powerful,” Nahbi jumped in. “They live in large, well-fortified cities. They are prepared to defend themselves and their homes. And some of the people living in the land are actually giants!”

The entire camp had been listening carefully to the spies’ report. They were awed by the fruit the spies had returned with. But at the news of well-guarded cities and powerful people (not to mention giants!), they began to mutter, and murmur, and complain. “Why did Moses bring us out here to die?” they wailed.

Joshua and Caleb listened to the multitude’s mood turn ugly. Joshua stepped forward and said, “The land we passed through and explored is exceedingly good. If the Lord is pleased with us, he will lead us into that land, a land flowing with milk and honey, and will give it to us. Only do not rebel against the Lord. And do not be afraid of the people of the land, because we will devour them. Their protection is gone, but the Lord is with us. Do not be afraid of them” (Numbers 14:7-9).