Numbers 13

Some thoughts for meditation following our daily devotional Scripture reading that is provided each week.

Deuteronomy 1:19-22 gives some helpful backstory. Israel arrived at the southernmost part of Canaan and was told to go and possess it, for the Lord had given it to them. Israel, however, wanted to see the land first, to which Moses agreed to. This brings us to Numbers 13.

Twelve men were chosen to spy out the land, one from each tribe. Moses instructed them what to note for their report, encouraging them to be strong. For 40 days they spied out the land and returned to camp testifying and providing examples of the land’s abundant fruit.

Most of the report, however, focused on what would oppose them. From that they assumed only destruction if they followed God’s commands to go and conquer it. Only two spies urged Israel to go forward, trusting God’s Word: Caleb (v. 30) and Joshua (14:6). The other spies were determined against going, for their conclusion (“we are not able”) was based on their assessment (“they are stronger, the land of ours all, the people are like giants, we are nothing in their sight”).

Consequently, despite the land’s abundance and the Lord’s presence and promise of success, the 10 spies’ report so influenced the people that they charged God with bringing them there to be destroyed (Deut 1:26-28).


  1. The Lord’s patience does not justify independent analysis and assessment. God showed his patience by allowing spies to be sent. God’s patience calls for more thorough reflection from God’s perspective, not evaluating his actions and promises.
  2. There is no such thing as independent, unprejudiced analysis. Every “fact” is only rightly assessed from God’s point of view. Doubt and “independent” thought is sinful.
  3. When sinful man’s judgment prevails, doubt and disobedient result. A negative outlook will draw negative conclusions and make negative recommendations.
  4. Nothing keeps an omnipotent and sovereign God from fulfilling his promises, no matter how contrary the circumstances may appear.
  5. Believers must stand for truth even when the majority is against them.
  6. God-appointed leadership must always obey God. They must look at things from God’s perspective and lead God’s people to trust and obey God.
  7. Doubt has a short memory when it comes to the Lord’s promises and provisions. Just one year had passed since they saw God destroy Egypt. Doubt and denial would rather choose the wilderness or even Egypt over faith in God’s promises in the land of Canaan.
  8. This is a classic illustration of living by sight rather than by faith. God promised Israel that five of them would chase a hundred, and a hundred of them would put ten thousand to flight (Lev 26:8), but they did not believe that.