Study Notes

Numbers 13:1-14:45

13:1-3 Spy Out The Land

Upon reading this, it would seem as if sending in the spies was God's idea. Not so! In Deuteronomy, Moses tells the people,

Deut. 1:20-22 "And I said to you, 'You have come to the hill country of the Amorites which the LORD our God is about to give us. See, the LORD your God has placed the land before you; go up, take possession, as the LORD, the God of your fathers, has spoken to you. Do not fear or be dismayed.' Then all of you approached me and said, 'Let us send men before us, that they may search out the land for us, and bring back to us word of the way by which we should go up, and the cities which we shall enter.'

God was the one who was supposed to lead them with the pillar of cloud and fire. But the people are fearful, walking by sight, and beg Moses to send in spies. The Lord allows them to walk in their sin, specifying that a leader from each tribe be sent.

(13:4-15) These Are The Names

These verses simply detail who exactly went in, who their fathers were, and which tribe they were from. As I studied to find out what I could about these men, I discovered something interesting. Other than Joshua and Caleb, not one of these men are mentioned anywhere else in the Bible - not a single time. I believe that we'll see why as we see what the result of this spy mission will be.

13:16 Joshua

Now back in verse 8, the spy from the tribe of Ephraim was called Hoshea (Ho-SHAY-ah). But Moses called him Joshua (Yeh-ho-SHOO-ah). Why? Ho-SHAY-ah means "salvation." But Moses lengthened Joshua's name to "Yahweh is salvation."

Maybe Moses felt it was important to get specific - a reminder of exactly who our salvation comes from. Our culture today has become such a potpourri of religious ideas, that we must make sure and be specific about which Lord we are praising. When Paul was in Athens, you may remember, he saw that they were very religious in all respects. There were bunches of objects of worship - even an altar with the inscription, 'TO AN UNKNOWN GOD.' If someone had said to him, "The Lord God provided salvation," how could he know which God they were talking about? Were they speaking of Zeus or Yahweh? Were they speaking of Jupiter or Jesus?

Let us be specific when speaking of God, because...

Acts 4:12 "...there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men, by which we must be saved."

So Ho-SHAY-ah is called Yeh-ho-SHOO-ah by Moses.

13:17-21 Where To Go, What To Do

Moses explains where they are to go - first into the south country, the "NEH-gheb," then the hill country. From the wilderness of Tseen north to Rekh-OBE at LEE-bo Kham-AWTH.

They were to see what the land was like, see the people, and check out the cities. What they were to bring back was some of the fruit of the land, which Moses knew would encourage the people.

13:22 The Descendants Of Anak

When the spies get to kheb-RONE, they saw the Anakim - Akh-ee-MAN, Shay-SHAH-ee, and Tal-MAH-ee. We don't know if these are tribes or men. But we do know that the Anakim were giants. In Deuteronomy, they are described a number of times as being "great... and tall". Just how tall? Goliath, another giant we see in the Bible is described as his...

1Sam. 17:4 ...height was six cubits and a span...

A cubit is somewhere between 18-21 inches, and a span is half a cubit. A little basic math tells us that makes Goliath somewhere between 10 and 11 1/2 feet tall! The Rephaim are also recorded as being giants.

Deut. 3:11 (For only Og king of Bashan was left of the remnant of the Rephaim. Behold, his bedstead was an iron bedstead; it is in Rabbah of the sons of Ammon. Its length was nine cubits [13 1/2 to 16 ft.] and its width four cubits [6 to 7 feet] by ordinary cubit.)

That's one big bed! These guys would make pro basketball players look like short people!

13:23-24 Massive Grapes

The barriers of the land were big, but so were the blessings. In the valley of Esh-KOLE, they found grapes that were so massive, that a single cluster of them had to be carried on a pole between two of the men!

13:25-29 The Report

The spies come back and admit that the land that God is bringing them to is awesome. Unfortunately, they focus in on the obstacles - the seeming impossibility of conquering the huge inhabitants of the land. The Bible tells us that we must

2Cor. 5:7 ...walk by faith, not by sight -

Our job is not to look at the impossibility of the situation, but to trust that where God directs us is where He wants us. When God places giants in front of you, He'll also knock them over for you. It doesn't matter if its a ten foot man or a ten thousand dollar doctor bill - God has told us to look at Him, not at the situation.

For these spies, the obstacles were too tall, the opposition too numerous to trust God. Where is your trust limit with God? At what dollar figure or obstacle height do you cease to believe that God will take care of it? If there is a limit to your faith, it's not faith, it's sight.

13:30 Caleb's Faith

Caleb, however, is a man of faith. He knew that their enemies were big, but he knew their God was bigger. He knew the fortresses were strong, but He knew that Yahweh was stronger. Notice that he doesn't say, "We CAN surely overcome it," but rather, "We SHALL surely overcome it." Caleb walked in faith.

13:31-33 The Nephilim

Verse 33 tells us that

Num. 13:33 ...the sons of Anak are part of the Nephilim...

Who were the Nephilim? They are introduced to us way back in Genesis 6...

Gen. 6:1-4 Now it came about, when men began to multiply on the face of the land, and daughters were born to them, that the sons of God saw that the daughters of men were beautiful; and they took wives for themselves, whomever they chose. Then the LORD said, "My Spirit shall not strive with man forever, because he also is flesh; nevertheless his days shall be one hundred and twenty years." The Nephilim were on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of men, and they bore {children} to them. Those were the mighty men who {were} of old, men of renown.

In the Old Testament Hebrew, the term "Sons of God" occurs only four more times (Job 1:6; 2:1; 38:7; Dan 3:25). In all of these cases, the Scripture is speaking of angels. The term "Nephilim" in Hebrew means "the Fallen ones." It would seem that the Nephilim were the result of these sexual interactions between angels and women.

And although God destroyed most of them in the flood, some of that demonic DNA managed to make it to the other end of the flood. That's why we read in Genesis,

Gen. 6:4 The Nephilim were on the earth in those days, and also afterward...

As you trace the genealogies of the Philistines, the Anakim, etc. back, you come to the conclusion that it was Noah's daughter-in-law, Ham's wife, who carried this genetic trait.

14:1-4 Back To Egypt

Notice what happens when you walk by sight: 1) you're miserable, sad, and afraid. 2) You rebel against the spiritual leadership that's encouraging you to walk by faith; 3) You begin to accuse God of evil; 4) You retreat back to the place of slavery in the world that you came from.

Why do we not trust God? How can we increase our faith?

Luke 17:5-10 ...The apostles said to the Lord, "Increase our faith!" And the Lord said, "If you had faith like a mustard seed, you would say to this mulberry tree, 'Be uprooted and be planted in the sea'; and it would obey you. But which of you, having a slave plowing or tending sheep, will say to him when he has come in from the field, 'Come immediately and sit down to eat'? But will he not say to him, 'Prepare something for me to eat, and {properly} clothe yourself and serve me until I have eaten and drunk; and afterward you will eat and drink'? He does not thank the slave because he did the things which were commanded, does he? So you too, when you do all the things which are commanded you, say, 'We are unworthy slaves; we have done {only} that which we ought to have done.'"

How's Jesus saying that their faith will increase? With obedience to the command of God. You see, nothing miraculous is going to happen, like one day you'll wake up and feel like, "Hey, I can do anything God leads me to do! I believe! I have faith!" How it does happen is acknowledging, "God, this life is not mine, it's Yours. I'm just your servant. And where you lead me I'll follow. What you command me, I'll do." And when you simply do what you ought to do, no matter how impossible it seems, then you're walking in faith!

14:5-9 Praying And Preaching

The people are angry at Moses and ready to appoint a different leader to take them back to Egypt. Only four men are walking in faith - Moses, Aaron, Joshua, and Caleb. And they do what men of faith do in a sin crisis: two of them pray, two of them preach.

Jesus told Peter,

Luke 22:32 but I have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail...

Jude encouraged believers everywhere, saying,

Jude 20 But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith; praying in the Holy Spirit;

Prayer assists faith. So does preaching. Paul told the Romans that

Rom. 10:17 ...Faith {comes} from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.

Praying and preaching can increase faith - but only if the hearers are listening...

14:10-19 Moses' Intercession

The people didn't want to listen - they weren't open to faith, they were only open to anger, fear, and unbelief. Once again, God's anger burns against them, and Moses intercedes for them.

Notice how he intercedes - "Lord, they certainly deserve judgment - but if you kill them, then the gentile world will doubt your might power to deliver these Israelites. Not only that God, but remember, in Your Word you promised that You are a forgiving God. Is it bad to try and convince God of something? Not when it is according to His Word. God is blessed when we pray saying, "Lord, remember, You promised. God, your Word tells us this." Pray scripturally, and you'll be praying powerfully.

14:20-35 God's Response

God pardons the people for their sin, but He will also postpone the blessing He had for them. This generation will not enter into the promised land - their children will in their place.

The writer of Hebrews tells us,

Hebr. 3:17-19 And with whom was He angry for forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose bodies fell in the wilderness? And to whom did He swear that they should not enter His rest, but to those who were disobedient? And {so} we see that they were not able to enter because of unbelief.

The only "old folks" that will enter into the new land will be Joshua and Caleb.

14:36-38 Died By A Plague

God did, however, hold the ten spies responsible for their sin - they were leaders of the people, and had a greater requirement of them. They caused the rest of the people to stumble, a sure way to bring the judgment of God upon you. Jesus said,

Matt. 18:6-7 "...Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it is better for him that a heavy millstone be hung around his neck, and that he be drowned in the depth of the sea. Woe to the world because of {its} stumbling blocks! For it is inevitable that stumbling blocks come; but woe to that man through whom the stumbling block comes!"

So these ten stumbling stone spies are killed with a plague.

14:39-43 Faith Too Late

The next day, the people recommitted themselves - "Yes, we will go into the promised land!" But Moses says, "It's too late guys - yes, your sin has been pardoned, but God's Word is true - it is the children who will enter in forty years from now. Going in today will be suicide, because God's not going with you."

The saddest statement in the story of Samson is when Delilah said,

Judg. 16:20 ..."The Philistines are upon you, Samson!" And he awoke from his sleep and said, "I will go out as at other times and shake myself free." But he did not know that the LORD had departed from him.

He didn't know that the Lord wasn't with him. He had hardened his heart to the point that he couldn't even feel the difference. Jesus told us,

John 15:5 "...apart from Me you can do nothing."

Without the Lord, the easy is impossible, and the difficult is deadly.

14:44-45 Ahead Of God

There they went, convinced that if they just had faith in their faith, that God would have to bless it. And they were struck down. Dear saints, it's not about having faith in your faith. It's about having faith in God's Word - that it is true.

Today, many televangelists and others preach that we must have "the faith OF God," when in reality, we must have faith IN God. Faith can never be apart from the will and the Word of God. No matter how much faith you have, you're not going to make God do something against His Word.

Rev. 14:12 Here is the perseverance of the saints who keep the commandments of God and their faith in Jesus.

Keep the commandments, have faith in Christ, and you'll never find yourself blazing the trail towards your destruction.

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