The Twelve Israelite Spies
Moses had planned to go directly from Sinai to Canaan. He intended to enter the promised land at once. But the spies brought a discouraging report. The people refused to go forward. They would have stoned Moses except for the miraculous intervention of God. This was the crucial point of the journey. Within sight of the promised land, they turned back. For them, the opportunity never returned. Caleb and Joshua, the two spies who wanted to go forward, were the only ones of the 600,000 men over the age of twenty who lived to enter Canaan.
The sending of the spies was the desire of the people, not the commandment of the Lord. The report of the ten was filled with pessimism, fear and doubt. Unbelief always sees the obstacles; faith always sees the opportunities. The people succumbed to fear. The ten spies were masters at using emotional scare tactics to arouse the people (Numbers 14:1-2). Their evil report sparked terror in the hearts of thousands. Caleb and Joshua responded with optimism and faith. The had a keen reliance upon God. Because the people responded in fear, a generation was lost and the nation was forced to wander in the wilderness. They were not permitted to enter the land. What is fear? Fear is false evidence appearing real. Only a trust in God’s promises will eliminate fear.
Almighty and eternal God, because it was Your will that Your Son should bear the pains of the cross for us and thus remove from us the power of the adversary, help us so to remember and give thanks for our Lord’s Passion that we may receive remission of sins and redemption from everlasting death; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
Schnorr von Carolsfeld Woodcut used with permission © WELS
Halley’s Bible Handbook An Abbreviated Bible Commentary Twenty-Third Edition, © 1962 Zondervan Grand Rapids
Collect for Lent 5 Lutheran Worship © 1980 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis