Read: Numbers 13
“Send some men to explore the land of Canaan, which I am giving to the Israelites. From each ancestral tribe send one of its leaders.” Numbers 13:2
This chapter ends as sort of a cliff hanger. Things might go either way. Caleb is saying let’s go take this amazing land that God has given us to take, and ten other men are not only saying, but spreading the belief, that they should not take the land cause they will fail, and even die, in their attempt.
But what we see at the end of this chapter is really a result of how these guys set themselves up before they ever set out. In verse 2 God doesn’t just say, “Send some leaders to explore the land of Canaan.” He could’ve, and they would’ve had the same instructions. But He didn’t. Instead God said, “Send some men to explore the land of Canaan, which I am giving to the Israelites.” In fact, if we take one more step back, we find out that God’s original instructions were these:
“See, the Lord your God has given you the land. Go up and take possession of it as the Lord, the God of your ancestors, told you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” (Deut. 1:21)
He never told them to go spy out the land. He just said, “It’s yours; take it.” But, when the people heard this, their response was:
“Let us send men ahead to spy out the land for us and bring back a report about the route we are to take and the towns we will come to.” (Deut. 1:22)
Basically, they were saying that before they would act in obedience to God, they wanted to see what they’d been promised and they wanted to determine if they could get the job done. They had been called to walk by faith, but they were seeking to walk by sight.
So God agrees to what they ask for. A look. He tells them to form the first-ever-ancient-CIA. Actually I guess it would’ve been the Mossad (Israel’s version of the CIA), and they go explore the land. And in the end, ten of them made their choice to put their faith in what they could see and what they believed they couldn’t do. But Caleb put his faith in Who had seen it all already, and what He could do on their behalf.
We have the same choice today. Maybe not to be part of the CIA or Mossad, but maybe we are prompted by God to do something; or to not do something. But before we take that step of faith, we want to know what we might encounter along the way, and all the possible outcomes. We’re called to walk by faith, but we beg God to walk by sight. It ‘feels’ like we’ll be safer. More intelligent. More prepared for the journey. Maybe even stronger. In this case, for the majority of the spy guys, the result was just the opposite. Most ended up seeing what they saw through the filter of fear, not the filter of faith. God showed them a land of rich opportunity; they saw obstacles.
However, Caleb chose to look through the filter of faith. Often when we choose to walk by faith, not sight, it’s a lonely walk. In this chapter, this was the case for Caleb. He was the odd man out.
It’s tempting to read on to the next chapter and see Joshua join Caleb, and see the outcome — but we might miss the value of sitting for a moment in the tension Caleb was experiencing (and, it would ruin tomorrow’s devotional). See, Caleb did not have chapter 14 and on when he was living chapter 13. All he knew was that He was choosing to walk by faith, not by sight.
So what about you today? What is God calling you to do or to not do? Will you walk by faith and trust Him for the outcome?
Father, God, thank you for calling us to a life of faith in You. Thank you for being our Provider. And thank you for being a God who desires to lead us in Your ways. Help us to walk in obedience by faith. Amen.