31st August 2018

A Positive Outlook 

“But Joshua the son of Nun and Caleb the son of Jephunneh, who were among those who had spied out the land, tore their clothes; and they spoke to all the congregation of the children of Israel, saying: ‘The land we passed through to spy out is an exceedingly good land.’”
Numbers 14:6-7 (NKJV)

In response to the Lord’s command Moses sent out twelve spies to spy on Canaan and to report back on what they saw. One man was selected from each of the tribes, probably to ensure a fair representation of the people.

When the spies returned they brought with them a mixed review. Each of them had seen the same things but their interpretation was different. Ten of them were negative and “they gave the children of Israel a bad report of the land” (Numbers 13:32). It was true that it was a land that flowed with milk and honey, but, nevertheless, they claimed, the Canaanites were hostile and stronger than the Israelites and, what’s more, there were giants in the land, and “we were like grasshoppers in our own sight, and so we were in their sight” (verse 33). When the people heard this, they wanted to abandon the progress they had made and to return to Egypt, and they sought to replace the leadership of Moses and Aaron.

Only two of them were positive, as noted in the leading verse above. To them, God was in it all despite the giants and the fierce, powerful Canaanites — “Do not fear them” (Numbers 14:9). The people wanted to stone Joshua and Caleb in response and preferred the “bad news” interpretation. Moses then preaches a powerful, corrective sermon to the Israelites. The story ends well for Joshua and Caleb, but not for the other ten spies, who die of the plague. Read the whole account in Numbers 13 through 14.

There are so many lessons in this story, and one that jumps out is about how we interpret what we see around us. Given the same information, the spies came to different conclusions. One was a conclusion of sight alone, the other of faith and promise. In Romans 8 the apostle Paul describes how terrible events may surround and affect believers, and he states that, despite them, “we know that all things work together for good to those who love God” (verse 28). Joshua and Caleb’s positive slant on things fits in well with this verse.

Thank you, Father, for the stories we read in the Bible, and for how they instruct us about a life of faith. Help me, please, through your Holy Spirit, to be more positive than I am negative. In Jesus
’ name.

Study by James Henderson


About the Author:
James Henderson is the National Ministry Leader for Grace Communion International in the UK and Ireland.

Local Congregation:
You are welcome to attend any of our local congregations in the UK and Ireland. For details of your nearest local congregation, check on our website, www.gracecom.church under the ‘Churches’ tab, or ring +44 (0)1858 437099.

Or email: admin@daybyday.org.uk

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