Remembering the Passover & Exodus: a selection of passages & meditations
"We seemed to ourselves like grasshoppers, and so we seemed to them."

Scripture: Numbers 12:16 - 13:33

12:16 After that the people set out from Haze'roth, and encamped in the wilderness of Paran. 13:1 The LORD said to Moses, 2 "Send men to spy out the land of Canaan, which I give to the people of Israel; from each tribe of their fathers shall you send a man, every one a leader among them."

3 So Moses sent them from the wilderness of Paran, according to the command of the LORD, all of them men who were heads of the people of Israel. 4 And these were their names: From the tribe of Reuben, Sham'mu-a the son of Zaccur; 5 from the tribe of Simeon, Shaphat the son of Hori; 6 from the tribe of Judah, Caleb the son of Jephun'neh; 7 from the tribe of Is'sachar, Igal the son of Joseph; 8 from the tribe of E'phraim, Hoshe'a the son of Nun; 9 from the tribe of Benjamin, Palti the son of Raphu; 10 from the tribe of Zeb'ulun, Gad'diel the son of Sodi; 11 from the tribe of Joseph (that is from the tribe of Manas'seh), Gaddi the son of Susi; 12 from the tribe of Dan, Am'miel the son of Gemal'li; 13 from the tribe of Asher, Sethur the son of Michael; 14 from the tribe of Naph'tali, Nahbi the son of Vophsi; 15 from the tribe of Gad, Geu'el the son of Machi. 16 These were the names of the men whom Moses sent to spy out the land. And Moses called Hoshe'a the son of Nun Joshua.

17 Moses sent them to spy out the land of Canaan, and said to them, "Go up into the Negeb yonder, and go up into the hill country, 18 and see what the land is, and whether the people who dwell in it are strong or weak, whether they are few or many, 19 and whether the land that they dwell in is good or bad, and whether the cities that they dwell in are camps or strongholds, 20 and whether the land is rich or poor, and whether there is wood in it or not. Be of good courage, and bring some of the fruit of the land." Now the time was the season of the first ripe grapes.

21 So they went up and spied out the land from the wilderness of Zin to Rehob, near the entrance of Hamath. 22 They went up into the Negeb, and came to Hebron; and Ahi'man, She'shai, and Talmai, the descendants of Anak, were there. (Hebron was built seven years before Zo'an in Egypt.) 23 And they came to the Valley of Eshcol, and cut down from there a branch with a single cluster of grapes, and they carried it on a pole between two of them; they brought also some pomegranates and figs. 24 That place was called the Valley of Eshcol, because of the cluster which the men of Israel cut down from there. 25 At the end of forty days they returned from spying out the land.

26 And they came to Moses and Aaron and to all the congregation of the people of Israel in the wilderness of Paran, at Kadesh; they brought back word to them and to all the congregation, and showed them the fruit of the land. 27 And they told him, "We came to the land to which you sent us; it flows with milk and honey, and this is its fruit. 28 Yet the people who dwell in the land are strong, and the cities are fortified and very large; and besides, we saw the descendants of Anak there. 29 The Amal'ekites dwell in the land of the Negeb; the Hittites, the Jeb'usites, and the Amorites dwell in the hill country; and the Canaanites dwell by the sea, and along the Jordan." 30 But Caleb quieted the people before Moses, and said, "Let us go up at once, and occupy it; for we are well able to overcome it."

31 Then the men who had gone up with him said, "We are not able to go up against the people; for they are stronger than we." 32 So they brought to the people of Israel an evil report of the land which they had spied out, saying, "The land, through which we have gone, to spy it out, is a land that devours its inhabitants; and all the people that we saw in it are men of great stature. 33 And there we saw the Nephilim (the sons of Anak, who come from the Nephilim); and we seemed to ourselves like grasshoppers, and so we seemed to them."

Meditation: Moses selects twelve leaders from each of the tribes of Israel to go and spy out the land of Canaan, the land promised to them by God. This they did for forty days (a sufficient or full period of time). Their report uncovers two important facts: First, the land was indeed rich and fertile, flowing with milk and honey, and with plentiful fruit. Second, its current inhabitants were fierce and strong, with well-fortified cities.

The thought of attempting to occupy the land struck fear into the hearts of these men, all except Caleb (and Joshua, see Numbers 14:6-9). Their response was natural, but weak-hearted: We seemed to ourselves like grasshoppers, and so we seemed to them. But Caleb's response was faith-filled and courageous: Let us go up at once, and occupy it; for we are well able to overcome it. At the moment they were sent to take the land, they shrank back due to their lack of faith and lack of courage (see Deut. 1:26,29-32). As a consequence, none of them made it into the promised land, except for Caleb and Joshua some forty years later. Where has the Lord called you to fight for the faith? Do you shrink back from taking the position the Lord has assigned for you?

The author to the letter of Hebrews exhorts us: We desire each one of you to show the same earnestness in realizing the full assurance of hope until the end, so that you may not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises (Hebrews 6:11-12). Where are you tempted to be sluggish or to lose hope?

"Lord Jesus Christ, you have won for us the hope of heaven and everlasting life. Show me where I am sluggish or complacent and increase my zeal for you and my fervor for prayer and study of your word. Strengthen me in my fight against sin and evil that I may always choose for your way of truth and righteousness."

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(c) 1999, 2001, 2002 Don Schwager