Summary of passage: The 12 scouts came back and reported what they had found in the Promised Land. They said it does flow with milk and honey, but the people who live there are powerful and the cities are large. We saw descendants of Anak (giants). Caleb suggests to go up and take possession of the land. However, the others say they can’t attack the people for they are stronger than they are and are of great size. They say they saw the Nephilim there.
All the community complained against Moses and Aaron, asking why God brought them there and saying they should have stayed in Egypt. They wanted to choose a new leader and return to Egypt.
6a) Caleb had to go against the majority and step out in faith and say “we can take this land God has given us.” He may have lost friends and he was definitely risking his life. It took courage, faith, and trust in God–and he will be rewarded!
c) Personal Question. My answer: No.
7a) Moses and Aaron (the leaders)–ultimately God since God placed Moses and Aaron as their leaders. Caleb and Joshua called it what it was in verse 9: “Do not rebel against the Lord”. No sugar-coating here!
Their situation was false first of all. They believed their situation to be one of impossibility. They believed the 10 men who said the land was full of giants and Nephilim when it wasn’t. They believed it would be impossible to defeat such men. Thus, they wanted to turn around and go back to Egypt.
b) “We” blame others when we should be blaming ourselves for lack of faith. A better question here would be to replace the pronoun “we” with “you”. It is always our fault even though we never admit it because we let circumstances dictate our response instead of trusting God.
Conclusions: I don’t like the personal questions here. 6c I couldn’t come up with anytime “in faith” and 7b didn’t go far enough.
This passage is packed here and if you’re not careful, you’ll miss the significance and I don’t think BSF did a very good job of unpacking this passage with the questions. This rebellion was the defining moment of the Israelites, the moment that sealed their fate and punishment to wander the desert for the rest of their lives.
Ever since the Exodus, we have seen the Israelites go back and forth in their faith. Here, there is no going back and there is no forgiveness for this rebellion. Punishment is administered and it is just. As we’ll see Moses begs one more time for the people and for God’s forgiveness (which God grants) but with this punishment tacked on. We will see the sparing of Caleb and Joshua and hopefully we will take to heart the lesson of trusting in God whole-heartedly always.
End Notes: With the word “but” the lack of faith is on full display.
Nephilim means giants and are the offspring of the sons of God and the daughters of men in Genesis 6:4. There is debate if the sons of God were fallen angels who then laid with human females or if they were the offspring of Seth.
The Anakites are descendants of Anak (Joshua 15:13) and were compared to giants by the spies here.
Scholars say since each tribe was represented and 10 of the 12 tribes lacked faith that this shows the hearts of the majority of the people: they lacked faith in God as well.
When the Israelites blame Aaron and Moses, they are really blaming God here for their problems. They expected the path to the Promised Land to be easy. But we must remember Jesus’ example–the hardest single act ever done on this earth. Who are we to question God’s methods?
This chapter is a stark contrast to the first 10 chapters of Numbers. The people have been prepared, organized, and purified and right when the time has come, their true hearts are revealed.
We need to be careful what we wish for because the Israelites wanted to die and God grants their wish when they do not make it to the Promised Land.
This is deep-seated rebellion when the Israelites accuse God of bringing them to the land to die. We can be angry at God but the anger is never justified because God has done nothing to provoke our anger.
Israelites were rejecting God’s path for them. They wanted their own path. Note the words used here: “we should choose” instead of God choosing. “We should go back” instead of God wanting us to go. Tragic, tragic tale here we all need to take heed of.
Take away: This moment of rebellion scholars say is the most decisive event since the exodus from Egypt. All the Israelites have to do is trust God and they cower in fear and unbelief. Here, God realizes His people are not ready for the Promised Land and with this act they seal their fate of having to roam the desert for 40 years.
Best part: Caleb and Joshua will have the last laugh as they are the only adults to make it to the Promised Land. God is good indeed! He rewards the faithful beyond belief!