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May 2017 Issue

Faith and Faithlessness in the Desert

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Devotion for Friday, May 12, 2017

Spying Out the Land of Canaan

Read Numbers 13

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The Lord is trustworthy in all he promises and faithful in all he does. Psalm 145:13

According to Guinness World Records, the largest bunch of grapes ever recorded was grown in 1984 in Chile. It weighed 20 pounds, 11.5 ounces! The largest grapevine in the world is found at Hampton Court Palace in England. It measures more than 12 feet in circumference and its branches are typically about 108 feet long. Nearly 250 years old, this one vine produces about 600 pounds of grapes per year!

One wonders how these world records might compare with the grapes the spies brought back from Canaan (v. 23). Arriving at the border of Canaan, Israel sent twelve spies to scout out the military situation—population, fighting strength, fortified cities, and enemy morale—as well as the land itself. They surveyed the entirety of it, a round trip of about 500 miles. This spy mission was prudent and obedient (v. 2). Joshua would do the same thing the next time they arrived at the border (Joshua 2).

The problem was that the spies’ report was accurate in content but weak in faith. They reported that the land was rich and prosperous. “Flowing with milk and honey” has become an English idiom indicating abundance (v. 27). They also reported that the people and cities were strong, more than a match for the “grasshopper” Israelites. To attack such foes was suicidal.

Only Joshua and Caleb disagreed, filing a minority report that with God on Israel’s side, victory was certain (v. 30). They didn’t dispute the content of the report, but instead focused on the Lord’s promise to give Israel the land. They might also have reminded the people that He had defeated the armies of Egypt to liberate them from slavery—surely the Canaanites presented less of a challenge. The nation, however, listened to the majority and disobediently decided not to enter the land.

Apply the Word

To trust in God’s promises means to believe and act on them, no matter what things look like from a human perspective. The enemy may indeed be strong. We may indeed be like grasshoppers. But God’s perspective is what matters. “The Lord is trustworthy in all he promises and faithful in all he does” (Ps. 145:13). What’s holding you back today?

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