Life of Moses: Belief versus Unbelief

Peter Barnes: Numbers 13

(6 October 2019)


In Numbers 13-14 we learn why God ordained that Israel wander in the wilderness for forty years before entering the Promised Land.

1. God’s promises are true.

The names are listed in verses 1-16; note that Hoshea (‘He saved’) is another name for Joshua (‘Yahweh saves’). The initiative comes from the people (Deut.1:22) and God (Num 13:1-2).

– ‘a land flowing with milk and honey’ is found about 21 times in the Old Testament. The spies were to check out the land – 13:17-20 – and soon found that it lived up to what God had said – 13:23-24. They reported this news back to the main body of Israel – 13:25-27.

– Rev.22:1-5. Is this promise true? Yes, see Rev.22:6.

2. Unbelief is short-sighted.

Here are the promises of God and the evidence – 13:23, 27. The ten spies see two giant obstacles – 13:28-29, 31-33. The cities are well-fortified (recall Josh.6) and the people so big that the ten spies felt like grasshoppers in comparison – Deut.9:2.

3. Faith is prepared to stand against the majority.

‘Be of good courage,’ is what Moses says to the spies (13:20). Often, probably mostly, that is exactly what is needed. Note Numbers 13:30. Caleb is not standing up to Egypt or Canaan but to most of Israel.

Charles Wesley:

Faith, mighty faith, the promise sees,

And looks to God alone;

Laughs at impossibilities,

And cries it shall be done.

– 2 Tim.1:7. That comes from God alone, and it leads us back to Him.