Forty days later, they returned from reconnoitering the land and went to Moshe, Aharon and the entire community of the people of Isra’el at Kadesh in the Pa’ran Desert, where they brought back word to them and to the entire community and showed them the fruit of the land. What they told him was this: “We entered the land where you sent us, and indeed it does flow with milk and honey — here is its fruit! However the people living in the land are fierce, and the cities are fortified and very large. Moreover, we saw the ‘Anakim there. ‘Amalek lives in the area of the Negev; the Hitti, the Y’vusi and the Emori live in the hills; and the Kena‘ani live by the sea and alongside the Yarden.”-Numbers 13:25-29
40 days later the 12 tribal leaders chosen to scout the land return and head straight over to Moses and Aaron to give their report.
Let’s examine their wording carefully because it speaks volumes about what was really going on inside their minds.
First, notice they start off by saying “We entered the land where you sent us...“
Did you catch that?
The land they had just visited was not the land promised to them by God nor was it the land God had sworn to Abraham his ancestors would inherit.
No, it’s the land “where you sent us“.
My point is via their phrasing they had completely separated themselves from the promises of God.
Instead of focusing on the promises of God (which is where our focus should always be), they were focused on the external circumstances.
Next, notice how the men start off by mentioning the positive things about the land.
They begin by saying “Yes, the land is fertile and indeed is a land flowing with milk and honey” and then they pull out and present the fruit they had brought back from the Promised Land.
This is a common tactic people use to cushion the barrage of negativity they’re about to unleash.
After telling Moses that the land is a good land, the men then begin to speak what’s really on their minds.
They tell Moses that the people inhabiting Canaan are big and strong and that the cities are huge and well fortified.
The implication here is that there is no way in hell we’re gonna be able to take over this city.
Now the truth be told, the report to Moses was not an exaggeration.
When the ancient cities of Canaan were excavated, some of the walls of the cities that were found were about 15 feet thick with some of them being up to 50 feet high, practically impenetrable barriers!
The men also reported about the variety of people groups who were currently inhabiting the Land of Canaan.
They reported seeing the Anakim and the Amelekites (the main folks inhabiting the desert regions of Canaan and Sinai).
They also reported seeing the Hittites, the Jebusites and the Amorites.
I think when reading these parts of Scripture dealing with the takeover of Canaan we have a tendency to look down on the non-Israelite races inhabiting the region as being primitive and uncivilized.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
The Hittites were actually a very advanced civilization whose center would now be modern day Turkey.
The Jebusites were actually the original builders of Jerusalem, modern day Israel’s capital.
And Abraham’s original tribe sprang from the Amorites.
The Amorites were considered to be a very aggressive people who were always seeking to dominate the region and as a result didn’t get along very well with their neighbors.
So, as you can see, it wouldn’t make much sense to use the term “Canaanite” to refer to one people group per say.
The Land of Canaan was actually a conglomerate of many different people groups well entrenched in the promised land who could all trace their ancestry to Noah’s grandson Canaan.
Now again, I want to stress here that the scouts’ report of what they saw was not exaggerated.
The city was indeed inhabited by many strong people groups and the cities were indeed very well fortified.
Their assessment was objectively accurate and the truth of what was being reported was causing the community of Israel to start shaking in their boots.
By the way, the word “community” here is not referring to all the citizens of Israel, just the senior elders of Israel.
In this situation, the difference between a winner’s mindset versus a loser’s mindset is on full display here.
The winner’s mindset is expressed by Caleb in verse 30.
“We ought to go up immediately and take possession of it; there is no question that we can conquer it.”
The loser’s mindset (the majority position by the way) is expressed in verse 31.
“We can’t attack those people, because they are stronger than we are.”
Do you see the HUGE DIFFERENCE in mindset that results whether one is focused on God as opposed to the circumstances of the world?
The man who was focused on God was filled with confidence and hope to go on and take the Promised Land.
On the other hand, the men who were focused on the world had reached the conclusion it would be a suicide mission to try and take over the land.
The big problem with the negative assessment of the scouts and elders was that they were rebelling not against Moses but against the one whom Moses represented.
They were rebelling against God Himself.
They had refused to trust God.
This was an insult to God’s HOLY character and they would pay for their lack of faith big time.
One final takeaway before I close.
A lot of believers have a tendency to assume that being in the right with God means more about avoiding doing those things the Lord doesn’t want us to do.
However, the reverse is also true.
Being in the right with God is also about PROACTIVELY DOING THOSE THINGS we ought to do even if the path seems to be filled with difficulties.
Just because a certain path is filled with obstacles and danger does NOT mean it is not of God.
Actually, the opposite is often true.
Harboring this mindset has probably caused the tragic downfall of believers more than any other thing.
Don’t falsely assume that just because a certain path is filled with problems and difficulties that it means you’re going against HASHEM’s Will.
He may be testing you.