The Blind Spies

Kent Heaton

Twelve men walked the length of Canaan for forty days spying the cities, the land and the people. They witnessed a place of great beauty and produce. One cluster of grapes had to be carried on a pole between two men. The land impressed them as a land that "flows with milk and honey" (Numbers 13:27). What troubled the hearts of most of the spies were the people that lived in this place of bounty. Of the twelve men sent to spy the land, ten feared the strength of the cities and the people. The cities seemed impregnable. The descendants of Anak (giants) filled the land. The ten spies reported they felt like grasshoppers in the sight of the people. By their words they discouraged the people of Israel (Numbers 13:28-29, 31-33). Joshua and Caleb were the only spies who believed the land could be conquered. They begged the people to reject the counsel of the ten spies and go at once to take possession of the land (Numbers 13:30). With God's power they did not need to fear the people because the Lord would fight for them. The seeds of doubt had settled in the hearts of the people and they refused to listen (Numbers 14:1-4). For their rebellion Jehovah God caused the people of Israel to wander in the wilderness for forty years (Numbers 14:34).

Why did ten men see fear and two men see victory? The ten spies did not see what Joshua and Caleb saw. Their hearts were blinded by what they saw with their eyes rather than what they could see with God's power. Moses had instructed the twelve to see how strong the people were and how difficult the cities would be to conquer (Numbers 13:17-20). The twelve spies were leaders among the people yet ten were blinded to the things that had witnessed in the past few months. Had they forgotten the power of God in Egypt when the Lord brought the plagues upon Pharaoh? How could anyone fail to remember the crossing at the Red Sea? If the Lord was victorious over the nation of Egypt how difficult would it be to conquer this new land? Joshua and Caleb saw the same giants and fortified cites the ten spies saw but they viewed them as weak because they knew what God could do. "If the Lord delights in us, then He will bring us into this land and give it to us, 'a land which flows with milk and honey.' Only do not rebel against the Lord, nor fear the people of the land, for they are our bread; their protection has departed from them, and the Lord is with us. Do not fear them" (Numbers 14:8-9).

We can be like the ten spies when we fail to see how God can work in our lives. The giants of doubt and fear will stand before us and we shrink back with worry and fear not believing that we can overcome. Paul reminds us that nothing is impossible for us if we trust in God. "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me . What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? . Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? . in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Philippians 4:13; Romans 8:31-39).