From Eternity Past


Chapter 34—Twelve Spies Survey Canaan

This chapter is based on Numbers 13 and 14.

The Hebrew host encamped at Kadesh, in the wilderness of Paran, which was not far from the borders of the Promised Land. Here it was proposed by the people that spies be sent up to survey the country. The matter was presented before the Lord by Moses, and permission was granted. The men were chosen and Moses bade them go and see the country and the people, whether they were strong or weak, few or many; also to observe the soil and its productiveness and to bring of the fruit of the land. EP 270.1

They went, and surveyed the whole land, and returned after forty days. The news of the spies’ return was hailed with rejoicing. The people rushed out to meet the messengers, who had safely escaped the dangers of their perilous undertaking. The spies brought specimens of the fruit, showing the fertility of the soil. They brought a cluster of grapes so large that it was carried between two men. They also brought of the figs and pomegranates, which grew in abundance. EP 270.2

The people listened intently as the report was brought to Moses. “We came unto the land whither thou sentest us,” the spies began, “and surely it floweth with milk and honey; and this is the fruit of it.” The people were enthusiastic; they would eagerly obey the voice of the Lord and go up at once to possess the land. EP 270.3

But all but two of the spies enlarged upon the dangers and uttered the sentiments of their unbelieving hearts, which were filled with discouragement prompted by Satan. Their unbelief cast a gloomy shadow over the congregation. The mighty power of God, so often manifested in behalf of the chosen nation, was forgotten. The people did not call to mind how wonderfully God had delivered them from their oppressors, cutting a path through the sea and destroying the pursuing hosts of Pharaoh. They left God out of the question, as though they must depend solely on the power of arms. EP 270.4

In their unbelief they repeated their former error of murmuring against Moses and Aaron. “This, then, is the end of all our high hopes,” they said. They accused their leaders of deceiving the people and bringing trouble upon Israel. EP 271.1

A wail of agony arose, mingled with the confused murmur of voices. Bold to stand in defense of the word of God, Caleb did all in his power to counteract the evil influence of his unfaithful associates. He did not contradict what had been said; the walls were high and the Canaanites strong. But God had promised the land to Israel. “Let us go up at once and possess it,” urged Caleb, “for we are well able to overcome it.” EP 271.2

But the ten, interrupting him, pictured the obstacles. “We be not able to go up against the people,” they declared; “for they are stronger then we... . All the people that we saw in it are men of a great stature; and we were in our own sight as grasshoppers, and so we were in their sight.” EP 271.3