Giants and Grasshoppers
Numbers 13:1-3, 17-33; Patriarchs and Prophets, pp. 387-394
We encourage one another to follow the Lord.
“Let us . . . encourage one another” (Hebrews 10:25, NLT).
Have you ever gone camping or moved to a new neighborhood? It is always fun to get up and go exploring. God gave the Israelites a chance to explore their new land before they moved in.
When Moses brought the Hebrew people out of Egypt, they marched from Goshen to the edge of the Red Sea. None of them knew the way, but God did. He led the people with a huge pillar of cloud. This cloud sheltered them from the hot sun during the day. At night the cloud gave them light and heat. As the people neared the Promised Land, God told Moses to choose one leader from each tribe. These men were to spy out the land. “See what the land is like,” Moses told the spies. “And bring back some fruit.”
After 40 days the men returned. The Israelites came out to welcome the spies and hear their report. Caleb, a tall, strong man from the tribe of Judah, could hardly wait to give his report.
Joshua, a young leader from the tribe of Ephraim, had also brought a good report. Both Caleb and Joshua allowed the others to speak first.
“The land flows with milk and honey, just as God told us,” the spies reported. “And we have brought back some fruit.” Two men stepped forward with the huge bunch of grapes they carried on a pole between them, but the other spies spoke only about the walled cities and giants they saw in the land.
The people listening began to grumble and complain. Caleb could see that their mood was growing ugly. Suddenly he stepped between Moses and the people. “We can go up at once and take possession of the land,” he encouraged. “It is a good land, and we can certainly do it!”
“How can we?” the 10 discouraged spies complained. “We felt like grasshoppers beside those people. And that is how we seemed to them!”
The people raised their voices and cried all night long. “It would have been better to die in Egypt or even here in the wilderness!” the people wailed. “Why is the Lord taking us into that land? We will be killed in battle, and our wives and children will be captured. Let’s go back to Egypt!”
Moses and Aaron fell with their faces to the ground. Caleb and Joshua were also distressed by Israel’s lack of trust in the Lord. They tore their clothes and held up their hands for silence.
“The land we explored is excellent!” the two faithful spies exclaimed. “Don’t be afraid of the people who live there. With God’s help we will conquer them easily. The Lord is with us; He has left them!”
Caleb looked out over the angry multitude. The other 10 spies mixed with the crowd, spreading discouragement.
Caleb shook his head. It was a good land, a beautiful land, rich and full of food. After all, it had taken two men to carry home one bunch of grapes! Yes, the people of the land were powerful. Their cities were well protected, but the children of Israel had God on their side.
Suddenly the crying and wailing of the people took an uglier turn. “Let’s stone them!” they muttered, pointing to Moses, Aaron, Caleb, and Joshua. “Stone them! Stone them!”
At that moment a dazzling light spread over the tabernacle, the Lord’s tent. The people backed away, fearful, squinting, shading their eyes with their hands.
Then the Lord spoke. “Because you people are afraid of entering the land, you will not do so. You will wander in the wilderness until all of you who are adults die. As for your children, I will bring them in to enjoy the land you rejected.”
But God promised Caleb and Joshua that they would go into the land because they spoke encouragement. Like Caleb and Joshua, we should encourage one another to follow the Lord.