Fear Not: Moses and the Spies

Fear Not: Moses and the Spies

Fear Not: Moses and the Spies.

“‘Look! He has placed the land in front of you. Go and occupy it as the Lord, the God of your ancestors, has promised you. Don’t be afraid! Don’t be discouraged! Don’t be shocked or afraid of them! The Lord your God is going ahead of you. He will fight for you, just as you saw Him do in Egypt. And you saw how the Lord your God cared for you all along the way as you traveled through the wilderness, just as a father cares for his child. Now He has brought you to this place. But even after all He did, you refused to trust the Lord your God, who goes before you looking for the best places to camp, guiding you with a pillar of fire by night and a pillar of cloud by day. When the Lord heard your complaining, He became very angry.'”  (Deuteronomy 1:21, 29-34).

The Israelites are knocking on the door of the Promised Land. They need to discover the best place to enter this land of Canaan in order to take it over. So they decide, with Moses’ approval, to send twelve scouts to spy out the land. The scouts were to report back to Moses and the people on the best entry point. Before this mission, it was assumed they would enter the land somewhere. But the spies returned with mixed reviews, and heavily negative. Ten of those scouts were demoralized, claiming some of the Canaanites were giants, and had built impregnable walls around their cities. These ten scouts convinced the people to reject any attempts to  enter the Promised Land. Only two scouts, Joshua and Caleb, were convinced the Israelites could take this fertile land with God on their side. The Israelites, though, committed the grievous sin of unbelief. Their fears overcame them, and they didn’t believe that God was enough. Moses did his best to encourage the people and exhort them to meet this challenge. He tried very hard  to help the people gather their courage and occupy the land. But the people stubbornly refused to trust in God. In His anger and disgust, God sentenced the Israelites to forty years of wandering the wilderness, one year for every day of the spy mission. This was time enough for the younger generation to grow up and take over the challenge. And too, this would provide the time necessary for the fearful generation to age out. After forty years, the children of these Israelites did indeed conquer and occupy the Promised Land. Despite God’s constant care for them up to that earlier moment of truth, though, the fearful Israelites proved unfaithful. And they paid dearly for their lack of courage and trust. Those ten fearful scouts paid the ultimate price. All of them were struck by a plague and died.

An Answer to Fear: When faced with a difficult task or decision, think through the positives and the negatives, the benefits and the obstacles. Trust God to sustain you in His presence and in His strength if it seems right to conquer that challenge or perform that task. Move out in faith if you know what you should do. Try not to let your fear immobilize you from going forward. Love God with all your mind as you sort this through, and trust in Him to be at your side. Fear can easily overcome you if you single-mindedly focus on the obstacles or the possible negatives. 

Take Heart: “Fearing people is a dangerous trap, but trusting the Lord means safety and security.” (Proverbs 29:25).