Finding Out

Then the LORD spoke to Moses saying,

“Send out for yourself men so that they may spy out the land of Canaan, which I am going to give to the sons of Israel; you shall send a man from each of their fathers’ tribes, every one a leader among them.”

So Moses sent them from the wilderness of Paran at the command of the LORD, all of them men who were heads of the sons of Israel.

These then were their names:

from the tribe of Reuben, Shammua the son of Zaccur;
from the tribe of Simeon, Shaphat the son of Hori;
from the tribe of Judah, Caleb the son of Jephunneh;
from the tribe of Issachar, Igal the son of Joseph;
from the tribe of Ephraim, Hoshea the son of Nun;
from the tribe of Benjamin, Palti the son of Raphu;
from the tribe of Zebulun, Gaddiel the son of Sodi;
from the tribe of Manasseh (a tribe of Joseph), Gaddi the son of Susi;
from the tribe of Dan, Ammiel the son of Gemalli;
from the tribe of Asher, Sethur the son of Michael;
from the tribe of Naphtali, Nahbi the son of Vophsi;
from the tribe of Gad, Geuel the son of Machi.

These are the names of the men whom Moses sent to spy out the land; but Moses called Hoshea the son of Nun, Joshua. (Numbers 13:1-16)

God believes in freedom. God brought the people of Israel out of Egypt for the express purpose of bringing them back to the land he had promised to Abraham. Then God told Moses to select twelve people to act as spies, so the Israelites could discover what that land was like.

Couldn’t God just have given Moses a briefing? Of course. But he didn’t. Couldn’t he have specified who Moses picked for spies? Yes. But he didn’t. He let Moses pick mostly bad spies who brought back a negative report. When the people of Israel believed their discouraging message they rejected God’s offer of the Promised Land. And God accepted their rejection! God gave that generation its wish not to enter the land. God accepted the will of the majority. God granted his people their freedom, for good or ill.

If we can find out something on our own, God isn’t going to tell it to us. God won’t allow himself to become a shortcut for laziness nor a way to shirk our responsibility. He is willing to let us learn things the hard way.

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About R.P. Nettelhorst

I'm married with three daughters. I live in southern California and I'm a deacon at Quartz Hill Community Church. I spent a couple of summers while I was in college working on a kibbutz in Israel. In 2004, I was a volunteer with the Ansari X-Prize at the winning launches of SpaceShipOne. Member of Society of Biblical Literature, American Academy of Religion, and The Authors Guild
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