Monday, July 4, 2011
The Indelible Minority
Before invading Canaan, Moses commissioned twelve spies, a representative from each of Israel’s twelve tribes, to investigate the terrain (Numbers 13:1). When they concluded their surveillance, ten of the twelve advised Israel to abort the mission. Only Hoshea (later christened Joshua by Moses himself) from Ephraim (Numbers 13:4, 16) and Caleb from Judah (Numbers 13:6) defended the mission’s viability (Numbers 13:30, 14:6-10).
Why did the majority of delegates advocate abandoning the objective?
While acknowledging that the land flowed with “milk and honey” (Numbers 13:27), the objectors dwelled on the region’s inhabitants concluding “‘we became like grasshoppers in our own sight, and so we were in their sight.’ (Numbers 13:33, NASB)”. While Joshua and Caleb focused on God (Numbers 14:8), the dissenters fixated on the obstacles.
“The pessimist sees difficulty in every opportunity. The optimist sees opportunity in every difficulty.” - Winston Churchill (1874-1965)
Unfortunately, the people were swayed by their fears and the majority report.
Why did the people side with the majority report? Was it simply because it was the majority or was there something deeper at play? Is unbelief easier than belief?
Israel eventually claimed Canaan, the Promised Land. As a reward for their faithfulness, Joshua and Caleb were the only Israelites living at the time of the initial report to enter the Promised Land (Numbers 14:36-37, 26:25, 32:12). Joshua famously led the conquest and Caleb settled Hebron (Joshua 14:6-14).
A more difficult trivia question would be to be to name the twelve who gave into their fears.
What will guide your decision making, fear or faith?