Biblical Principle #168: Israel Disbelieved They Could Conquer Canaan

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Israel lacked faith that they could conquer Canaan and, instead, complained against GOD and Moses.


GOD told Moses to send twelve spies to scout out the land of Canaan and bring back a report. Ten spies brought back a fearful report. Israel disbelieved that they could take the land and defeat the inhabitants.

1 Now all the congregation lifted up their voices and cried, and the people wept that night. 2 All the children of Israel were murmuring against Moses and Aaron, and the whole congregation said to them, “Would we had died in the land of Egypt, or in this desert. 3 Why did the Lord bring us to this land to fall in war? Our wives and children shall be plundered. It is better for us to return to Egypt.” 4 So they said to one another, “Let us select a ruler and return to Egypt.”

5 Then Moses and Aaron fell on their faces before all the congregation of the children of Israel. 6 But Joshua the son of Nun and Caleb the son of Jephunneh, who were among those who spied out the land, tore their clothes; 7 and they spoke to all the congregation of the children of Israel, saying, “The land we passed through to spy out is an extremely good land. 8 Since the Lord chooses us, He will bring us into this land and give it to us, ‘a land that flows with milk and honey.’ 9 But do not apostatize from the Lord, nor fear the people of the land, for they are our food; their time has come and gone, but the Lord is with us. Do not fear them.” 10 Then all the congregation said to stone them with stones. Now the glory of the Lord appeared in the cloud upon the tabernacle of testimony before all the children of Israel.

11 Then the Lord said to Moses, “How long will these people provoke Me? How long will they not believe Me, with all the signs I performed among them?

Numbers 14:1-11 OSB

Let’s recap:

  • Ten spies say, “We can’t do it!”
  • Joshua and Caleb say, “Yes, we can! Let’s go now!”
  • The people believe the ten.
  • The people weep and cry and start to complain.
    • “It’s Moses’ and Aaron’s fault that we’re in this mess! They led us here!”
    • “I wish we’d have just died in Egypt!”
    • “I wish we’d have died in this desert!”
    • “Why did GOD do this to us?!? He led us here just to allow us to get killed in war!”
    • “Let’s just go back to Egypt. Pick a new leader and let’s turn around.”
  • Moses and Aaron, exasperated and fearful of how GOD will respond, fall on their faces.
  • Joshua and Caleb, exasperated, tear their clothes in a last gasp attempt to persuade the crowd to believe.
  • The people don’t want to hear it. They start calling for Joshua and Caleb to be stoned.
  • And then GOD spoke …

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