After Moses led the Israelite people out of Egypt, they arrived at the edge of the land of Canaan, the land that God had promised for them. The only problem was that there were people already living there.
To “spy out the land,” Moses sent 12 men to go to Canaan and report what they saw. When they came back, they had all seen the same thing, but did not report the same thing.
Problems vs possibilities
Ten of the spies described the inhabitants of Canaan. The people were so large, it made the ten spies feel like “grasshoppers” compared to them (Number 13:33). The remaining two spies, Caleb and Joshua, noted the abundant goodness of the land. They remembered two men carrying a cluster of grapes, so large it had to be carried on a pole between the two men’s shoulders (Numbers 13:23).
If you heard their report, you would not think they had gone to the same place and had seen the same things. In truth, the ten did notice the incredible fruitfulness of the land, and the two were aware of the size of the inhabitants, but even though they saw the same things, their reports were totally different. The ten saw the problems, while the two saw the possibilities. The difference was not in the reality they could see, but in their level of faith in an unseen reality.
eyes of faith
God told the people of Israel that Canaan was the place He was giving to them. Caleb and Joshua were able to see the land through their eyes of faith in this promise. However, the ten could not see past the land’s inhabitants. Caleb and Joshua had faith that God, who had parted the Red Sea, said they should possess the land; therefore, its occupants did not matter.They were not dissuaded by giant obstacles, but were instead, persuaded by the promise of God who was much greater than the problems they faced.
All 12 spies saw the same things in the land, but only Joshua and Caleb saw Canaan through the eyes of faith in the possibilities of the promise of God.
Unfortunately, the people of Israel were swayed by the reports of the ten spies. They were convinced, despite God’s promise, going into the land would be suicide. As a result of their distrust, they wandered aimlessly in the wilderness for 40 years where they eventually died, having never received the blessings God had provided for them.
The Israelite people only saw problems, rather than seeing possibilities. They never looked beyond the visible to see through the eyes of faith, letting the promises of a faithful and powerful God be their focus.
“Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” Hebrews 11:1