Numbers 13:1-2a & 17-19
The LORD spoke to Moses, saying, “Send men to spy out the land of Canaan, which I am giving to the people of Israel.” … Moses … said to then, “Go up into the Negeb and go up into the hill country, and see what the land is, and whether the people who dwell in it are strong or weak, whether they are few or many, and whether the land that they dwell in is good or bad, and whether the cities that they dwell in are camps or strongholds.”
Numbers 13 is a critical juncture in Israel’s advancement to their long-awaited resting place and one where God effectively charts a new spiritual course for them to follow. That is, He adds something novel to their collaborative mission: a striking new test that will reveal where their hearts really are in relation to Him. When He says, “Send men to spy out the land,” He’s effectively saying, “Send men ahead of Me.” What a seismic shift in proceedings! God never told Abraham to preview the land before calling him to leave father and mother. He never sent an envoy to the Egyptian coastline to chart the best course through the Red Sea. He didn’t show the people His blueprints for the tabernacle and ask for their feedback first. But now it’s time for a change. Now it’s time for them to effectively lose the training wheels, grip the handlebars without their Father’s steadying hand, and test their spiritual balance.
There won’t be any miraculous Red Sea parting around this bend. No billowing pillar of fire to guide their path either. And they won’t even have Moses’ staff and Aaron’s ephod shimmering at their head. Though God knows exactly what these spies will discover upon surveying the land for themselves, though He could so easily just tell them up front what to expect, He holds back this time. It’s time for these chiefs to prove that they’re ready for the challenges ahead. Because greater challenges await.
Friend, God doesn’t desire to drag a church of kicking and screaming pilgrims to Zion; He desires to raise up children after His own heart, men and women who desire to follow and to lead, who choose to walk with Him side by side through thick and thin not because they have to, but because they want to.