May 3, 2022
THE MOST EXPENSIVE REPORT – Numbers 13 and 14
Listen to last week’s sermon on the 12 spies in Numbers 13 & 14.
As an introduction to the sermon he delivered on May 1, 2022, Pastor Eric announced that New Beginning Church is embarking on a new chapter in its history. He then turned the congregation’s attention to the book of Numbers, a story that recalled the beginning of a new chapter for the Israelites.
Municipalities, companies, and the government hire third parties to produce reports that are then presented to decision-makers. These reports serve as the basis for their decisions. The cost may vary depending on the type of report requested.
In his sermon today, Pastor Eric referred to possibly the most expensive report we have ever heard of or seen. It had taken God’s people forty years to reach the border of the land that they had been promised by God for generations. They were nearing the culmination of a long-cherished dream. The Israelites were elated as they approached Moses and requested that spies be dispatched on a reconnaissance mission to gather information about the land.
Read Deuteronomy 1:22-23
Numbers 13 reveals that this not only was a good idea, but it was also a part of God’s plan. He orchestrated it.
Read Numbers 13:1-15
Verses 4 to 15 record the names of people who were sent to explore the land as well as the tribes they represented. It was evident that all of this was inspired by God. This was not the result of a mere brainstorming session or committee planning process. There is no question that this was God’s doing, as authoritative wording is used: “The Lord spoke to Moses”, and “The Lord said to Moses, “Send men to explore the land of Canaan”. Clearly, God orchestrated all of this.
Read Numbers 13:16
As they were about to enter the Promised Land, Moses renamed Hoshea, Joshua. The Hebrew name Hoshea translates to ‘salvation’, while Joshua means ‘Yahweh saves’. This is an extremely significant name change.
Read Numbers 13:17-20
As described in this passage, Moses assigned the twelve spies the task of assessing the land and gathering information on its inhabitants. They were also instructed to bring back fruit from the land. Having wandered in the desert for forty years, the Israelites had not seen any fruit. Previously, they lived on manna, but now they will be able to bring back fruit! This was an exciting new chapter for the people of God.
Read Numbers 13:25-28
After forty days of exploration, the twelve spies reported back to Moses and the congregation with their findings. They were presented with two different reports. The first report gave the people cause for concern due to fear, whereas the second report inspired by faith, instilled courage and led them to believe in God’s promises.
As a result of the use of the word ‘however’, we can predict that the final outcome will not be favourable. The word ‘however’ here conveys dissatisfaction. According to the spies’ report, the land was fertile and there were abundant resources. It “flowed with milk and honey”. However, the inhabitants were strong and the cities were fortified. ‘Milk and honey’ is a poetic description that emphasizes the fertility of the soil and the prosperity of the land.
In chapters 13 and 14, there is one verse that is 75% positive while the remaining portion is negative. Pastor Eric therefore contends that fear impairs our ability to perceive the possibilities to which we are exposed.
The reference to ‘milk’ suggests that many livestock could find pasture there; the mention of ‘honey’ suggests the vast farmland available – the bees had plenty of plants to draw nectar from.(Source)
Thus, we can conclude that this is an opulent land. Furthermore, the grapes mentioned here are so abundant that two men were required to carry them. The Israelites, however, were unable to perceive the positive aspects of the situation, due to the fear that prevented them from appreciating the prosperity of the land before them.
Read Numbers 13:28-29
The Anakim giants were fond of war. In fact, the name Anakim could be translated as ‘long-necked’ or ‘very tall’.
Read Numbers 13:30
There was a struggle going on. Those who were led by faith sought to silence those who were spreading fear, whereas those who were guided by fear sought to silence those who were led by faith. When the Israelis heard this fearful report, they desired to return to Egypt, where they had been forced to work as slaves for forty years. It was easier for them to return to something familiar than to rely on God. The people of Israel also desired a change in leadership. Moses was to be disposed of, as he didn’t agree with them. After hearing Joshua and Caleb’s report, the Jews were not only going to remove Moses, but they were to kill Joshua and Caleb by stoning. This information indicates that being led by faith is less popular than being led by fear. This story shows that ten out of twelve individuals acted under the influence of fear.
Read Matthew 19:26
Who and what are we listening to? What kind of reports are we cultivating in our lives? With God, all things are possible, and if He says it can be done, there is no limit to what we can accomplish.
Read Numbers 13:32 NIV
Fear also exacerbates the problem. This verse states, “The land we explored devours those living in it” and “all the people we saw there are of great size”. This was interpreted as: “They are all giants who devour humans.” Each and every one of them! Fear will make them appear so. A genuine obstacle will be magnified by fear.
Read Numbers 13:33 and Genesis 6:1-4
The Nephilim were not only giants; they were descendants of fallen angels and earthly mothers. Genesis 6 states that the “sons of God” had children with human women. Their offspring were not just giants, they also bore the blood of fallen angels.
It is important, however, to assess the situation we are facing, weigh the pros and cons, and not overlook the challenges that lie ahead. This is what Moses instructed the Israelites to do.
Moses cautioned the Jews against going solely to see grapes. They were also to determine whether it was a fortified area; whether the people were strong or weak, wealthy or poor. They were to examine the land. Clearly, all factors were to be considered, but the first report misrepresented the facts. It was disproportionately exaggerated. Their fearful attitude amplified the obstacles. This type of fear is essentially a form of faith, but one that is rooted in disaster. The Israelites should have known that if God was giving them the land, He would assist them in overcoming the obstacles.
Fear can prevent us from achieving our God-given potential. All God’s people were meant to enter the Promised Land, but only two of them did. The rest were enslaved by fear.
Read Numbers 14:5-10
This passage reminds us that it is easier to believe in defeat than to believe in victory.
Read Numbers 14:11-12 and Luke 23:34
The people of Israel considered God to be untrustworthy. In their view, His plan was not a sound one, and He would not take care of them. Therefore, Moses was to be eliminated and Aaron and Caleb stoned for their faith in the Lord. This was an incorrect conception of reality.
What was God’s response to the situation? He was upset and ready to start anew. As a result, Moses pleaded with God on behalf of the Israelites. He reminded Him of His graciousness and kindness, as well as the fact that He is slow to anger. Moses then asked, “What will the Egyptians think? Did the Egyptians observe You rescue the Jews only to bring them to the desert to be destroyed?” Wouldn’t this be an indictment of Your character?” According to Moses, God’s reputation was at stake. Just as Jesus did on the cross, he pleaded with God to forgive them.
Read Numbers 14:20-24 and 2 Corinthians 5:7
The two reports produced two very different results. The report ruled by fear came to an end. However, the report based on faith and trust in God enabled Joshua and Caleb to enter the Promised Land. The moral of this story should be an object lesson for us all. We should not let fear bind us, as God offers us an alternative.
We may be unaware of what the Lord wants to accomplish in our lives because we have allowed fear to paralyze us. We may have returned to Egypt since it is more familiar to us. God, however, does not want us to remain there. Rather, He desires to lead us out of Egypt and into the Promised Land. There is something that the Lord wishes to give us, but we must walk by faith and not by sight in order to receive it.
Are you ready to leave Egypt?
Watch video here.
Small groups notes (Connection Groups)