Scripture Commentary — Numbers 13 & 14
Spies sent; a lesson on attitude!
Numbers 13 & 14 — Spies sent, a wonderful lesson on attitude
- 12 men — symbolic of the twelve tribes of Israel and the 12 apostles.
- “..every one a ruler…heads…” —these were the leaders, and they faltered (with the exception of two). Position and status do not guarantee success in one’s assignments. Attitude determines altitude!
- Joshua was of Ephraim and Caleb was of Judah – interesting. Only Joshua was given a new name by Moses. Jehoshua combines Jehovah and Oshea.
- “…see…” — scout, survey, number, evaluate, study! In short, prepare yourselves and us.
- “…be of good courage…” — trust in the Lord with all thine heart (Proverbs 3:5), wherefore fear not little flock (Doctrine and Covenants 6:34). Ten out of the 12 displayed no courage, only 2 did.
- “…grapes, pomegranates, figs…” — obviously a land of milk and honey; there would be no fruit in the Sinai desert; it is suggestive of Lehi’s dream in which there was delicious white fruit that awaited the faithful.
- “…searching…after forty days…” — symbolic of the number of days on the ark, the number of days that Jesus fasted, and predictive of the number of years they would wander in the wilderness (Numbers 14:34).
- ‘walled cities, strong cities, strong people’ — reminiscent of the large and spacious building in Lehi’s dream.
- “go up at once, and possess it. We are well able to overcome…” — what a great, positive attitude. He had seen the same things that the naysayers saw. He remembered what the Lord did for them as they escaped their Egyptian captivity. We are not just ‘able’ to possess the land, but we are ‘well able’!
- “…we be not able…they are stronger than we…they brought up an evil report…the land eateth up the inhabitants…men of a great stature…giants who come of giants…we were as grasshoppers…” — Caleb saw the land through spiritual eyes, faith-filled eyes, while the others saw through natural eyes. Had they forgotten so quickly what the Lord did for them in Egypt. The Apostle Paul would say, “I can do ALL THINGS through Christ which strengtheneth me…” (Philippians 4:13). The negative report of these doubters caused the people’s heart to faint and melt. They readily accepted the negative report and dismissed the positive evaluation.
- “…cried…wept…murmured against Moses…would God that we had died in Egypt or in the wilderness…return to Egypt…” — centuries later, the Lord would say “Therefore, fear not, little flock; do good; let earth and hell combine against you, for if ye are built upon my rock, they cannot prevail.” (Doctrine and Covenants 6:34) These Israelites could have and should have had this attitude in this situation. The Israelites were not just doubtful, they were rebellious.
- Caleb and Joshua’s greatness! “God is with us. Fear not!” (see Doctrine and Covenants 6:34)
- Signs and miracles don’t convert. They can motivate, but not convert. Conversion comes through the personal manifestations of the Spirit.
- Evidence of the wages of sin and the wages of disregard.
- “another spirit followed me fully”. Compare this with the rich young ruler in the New Testament. He also had ‘another spirit’.
- Forty years! They were on the threshold.
- A poignant lesson.
- “…we have sinned..”; death-bed repentance after they saw what happened to the ten spies.
- “…the Lord is not among you..”; what a terrible result!
Lessons to be learned from this amazing experience:
- Attitude determines altitude.
- Are there any ‘giants’ in our lives that cause us to hesitate, step back, re-think, doubt, rebel, etc.?
- Have an attitude of gratitude.
- With God all things are possible; is there anything to hard for the Lord (Genesis 18:14).
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