At the end of forty days they returned from spying out the land. And they came to Moses and Aaron and to all the congregation of the people of Israel in the wilderness of Paran, at Kadesh. They brought back word to them and to all the congregation, and showed them the fruit of the land. And they told him, “We came to the land to which you sent us. It flows with milk and honey, and this is its fruit. However, the people who dwell in the land are strong, and the cities are fortified and very large. And besides, we saw the descendants of Anak there. The Amalekites dwell in the land of the Negeb. The Hittites, the Jebusites, and the Amorites dwell in the hill country. And the Canaanites dwell by the sea, and along the Jordan.” Numbers 11:25-29, ESV.
It is likely that if you know any story from the book of Numbers, it is this one. Moses sends twelve spies into the Promised Land to see what is waiting for them as they enter this gift from God. They spy it out for forty days. The report brought back by the majority is a mixed bag. The land is awesome, but the people in the land are diverse and some are terrifying. Already, without going any further into this account, there is a lesson to be learned.
Most of us would agree with the statement, “Life is not always easy.” But how many of us are ready to accept that, “Receiving blessings is not always easy.” This is what is going on in our passage. Israel is just about to receive the blessing God had promised through Abraham generations prior. This land is the Promised Land where the covenant people of God will dwell as a kingdom of priests and kings under the blessing and protection of their God. The good life is right around the corner. But, when they look around that corner, even as they see the blessings that await, they also see warriors and giants.
This is not an uncommon position for the people of God to find themselves in, even today. We live in the hope of the covenant blessings, but our eyes tell us that terrible obstacles stand in our way. Consider the promised peace that is ours in Christ. How many obstacles to peace have already crossed your mind today?
In his letters, Paul almost always greets the churches with a reminder of God’s grace and peace. And he often tells them of the great gift they have from God through the person and work of Jesus. But at some point in his letters, he still has to address the obstacles. What are they? Without fail, they boil down to these: a lack of trust and a failure to obey.
We will look further at this account in Numbers tomorrow. Today I am praying that you will not be taken aback by any obstacles but will live now in obedience to you promise-making God and move forward in faith that His promises are true.