Can you imagine yourself an Israelite who miraculously escaped from Egypt? After seeing all the remarkable plagues, the wonder of crossing the Red Sea, then camping beside Mount Sinai with the earth quaking, the clouds, the fire and the voice from the mountain! Not to mention the provision of manna, quails, and water from the rock. Then, the teamwork to build the tabernacle as a centre of worship, with the divine presence indicated by fire and cloud! Next, the great celebration of a ‘Passover’ – one year and one month after leaving Egypt.
If we had been part of all that, our confidence in God to lead us to the promised land would be very great. So we might be astonished at our reading in Numbers! Why did 10 of the 12 spies who explored the land, come back in such a negative frame of mind? They said the land ‘flows with milk and honey and this is its fruit” (13:27), but spoke against the two who said, “Let us go up at once and occupy the land for we are well able to overcome it” (verse 30). Ten insisted “We are not able … for they are stronger than we are … all the people we saw in it are of great height … we seemed to ourselves like grasshoppers” (verses 31-33).
God’s anger with them was apparent because of this failure of faith, given all the evidence. Let us examine all the evidence for our own faith. How strong are our convictions in God? If serious difficulties arise will our faith falter? Will we only follow in the way of faith when all is going well? Remember the remarkable Psalm 139. David wrote, “Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me … see if there be any grievous way in me and lead me in the way everlasting” (verses 23,24).
Remember Moses’ final message to the people before he died; “and you shall remember the whole way that the LORD your God has led you these 40 years in the wilderness, that he might humble you, testing you to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep his commandments or not” (Deuteronomy 8:2). It was a message to the next generation, for their parents had died during the forty-year journey. They had learnt their lesson the hard way! Are we sure we have learnt ours? If massive problems arise and this world falls apart, will we seem “like grasshoppers”? Or will our faith be such as to give us “full assurance” (Hebrews 10:22,23).