“And they went and came to Moses and, Aaron, and to all the congregation of the children of Israel . . . and brought back word unto them . . . And they told him, and said, We came unto the land whither thou sentest us, and surely it floweth with milk and honey; and this is the fruit of it. Nevertheless the people be strong that dwell in the land, and the cities aye walled, and very great; and moreover we saw the children of Anak there . . . And they brought up an evil report of the land . . . saying; The land . . . is a land that eateth up the inhabitants thereof; . . . And there we saw night. And all the children of Israel murmured against Moses and Aaron . . . and said unto them: Would to God that we had died in the land of Egypt! or . . . in this wilderness! . . . Then Moses and Aaron fell on their faces before all the assembly of the congregation of the children of Israel.”
The majority report!
A report of the spies sent out into the land of Canaan, while the children of Israel waited at the door of Canaan in the wilderness of Paran, at Kadesh!
But what does faith want with spies anyway?
Had not the Lord already spied out the land for them? Had He not long before promised to give them this good land, when the cup of iniquity of the people of the land had become full?
The answer: the Lord acceded to their evil desire, to fulfill thereby His own purposes with Israel. He was fully aware of their unbelief. And He had in mind presently to reveal His glory in them even as He did in His wrath! Much like He did later when He also gave them a king in His wrath!
Instructed were the spies to conduct their expedition in the land, and to bring their report! So unobserved they went from the south to the extreme north; from Beersheba to Dan, and they returned! They passed the places where their ancestors once lived and were buried. But they were in no mood to remember such old: stories while they knew the Anakims were about! And three things were they especially instructed to observe: the people who dwelt there, whether they were strong or weak, few or many; the cities, whether they were walled, or open; the land, whether it was good or bad; fat or lean1 Also samples of the fruit they were ordered to bring!
And after forty days, they return, and bring their report!
A divided report!
Here we have the report of the majority! Consisting of two main parts: the first, dealing with the fertility of the land; the second, dealing with the inhabitants of the land and the cities in which they dwelt!
A factual report!
They say: “We came unto the land whither thou sentest us, and surely it floweth with milk and honey; and this is the, fruit of it.” It was like the Lord had said it would be! It was a rich and fertile land which produced in abundance. The huge bunch of grapes on a pole between two men, and the pomegranates and figs in the hands of others, demonstrated clearly that the land could produce the best in abundance!
And they report further that they had observed the inhabitants of the land and the cities in which they dwelt! Yes, the cities were walled and great in size. They were not little oases here and there, as one might see in the desert; no, the cities were substantially built, and the people of the land were safely protected behind fortified walls. The inhabitants of the land were mixed nationalities. In the southern part dwelt the Amalekites. In the mountains, the backbone of the land of Canaan, were the Hittites, the Jebusites, and the Amorites. While along the Jordan valley as well as along the seacoast, dwelt the Canaanites. And to top it all, near Hebron they reported to have seen the children of Anak, men of great stature!
For forty days they had traversed the entire land, taking notes and mental pictures of everything they saw. Their notebooks were full with all the information that was needed at headquarters. They had acquired all the data they were ordered to get. And now that their mission was accomplished, they hand in the facts as they saw them!
Here was a case of good reporting, as far as reporting goes! They had not failed in their mission. The facts in the report are no doubt accurate, for none of the twelve sent out denied them or attempted to alter the report!
Indeed, it was a factual report!
Nevertheless, an evil report!
This became evident, first of all, in the manner in which they stated the facts. It makes a great deal of difference, you know, how you tell the truth. A very accurate report may be very one-sided! This was the case here. The spies were not the last, who, being sent out to bring home facts, managed to convey very decided opinions without expressly stating any. A grudging and short admission to begin with, the force of which is immediately lost by the somber and minute painting of difficulty and danger is more powerful as a deterrent than any dissuasion! Sometimes not even a direct word of warning is necessary to convey your intention. Just a smile or a grimace will do the trick! That is what happened here! O, they told the facts, all right! There was no question about that! Even Joshua and Caleb would not deny them. But when you read their account, you notice especially how they said it.
Notice especially two words in the, report, which changed a truthful and factual report into an evil thing: the words: “NEVERTHELESS” and “MOREOVER.” (verse 28). You must read verse 28 with the preceding verse to get the effect. “Surely the land floweth with milk and honey, and this is the fruit of it. NEVERTHELESS the people be strong that dwell in the land.” It is like saying: “We tell you the facts, all right, but you must draw your own conclusions. It is not all cake and pie there in the land of Canaan. There are very serious obstacles to be encountered. The cities are not just open so that you can run through them. They are fortified, all of them.” “MOREOVER the worst has not been told you! If what we have said thus far frightens you, then hear what we have yet to say! There saw we the children of Anak!” These words, and the way they were spoken, were designed to send shivers down the spine of all who heard them. They were a deliberate attempt to cast hopelessness and fear into the hearts and minds of the children of Israel! The evil of this report becomes still more evident when you consider that their report was amended! For when the people heard the report, we read that they trembled with fear. And when Caleb tried to still the people, by exhorting them to go up at once to possess the land, because they were able; then the majority of the spies gave this amendment to their report: “We be not able to go up against the people; for they are stronger than we.” And we are told that they brought up an evil report, saying, “The land, through which we have gone to search it, is a land that eateth up the inhabitants thereof; and all the people that we saw in it are men of great stature. And there we saw the giants, the sons of Anak, which come of the giants, and we were in our own sight as grasshoppers, and so we were in their sight.”
It means that when the majority of the spies had searched the land they had looked at the things they saw only with their natural and physical eyes. They had not searched the land in faith! When they say that it was a land that eateth up the inhabitants thereof, they flatly contradict their first observation, that it was a land that floweth with milk and honey. When they declare that “all the people that we saw in it are men of a great stature,” they give evidence of a carnal fear that is prevalent in the ungodly when they are faced with powers which they in their own strength cannot overcome. When they call attention to the giants, the sons of Anak, they reveal clearly that they had lost sight of God Who created the giants, and Who had so wonderfully delivered them so far from all their enemies!
An evil report!
With an evil effect!
Open rebellion not only against Moses and Aaron, their leaders, but much worse, against the Lord, Whom they accuse of leading them to the sword of the inhabitants of Canaan!
How strange that the majority of the people can so soon forget God, the God of their salvation! And yet not so strange when you consider this rebellion in the light of all the history of Israel! Did not the majority always rebel, all the way from Egypt?
And consider that not all these rebels were reprobate children! This will become plain when we consider next The Minority Report in the Meditation to follow. No, there were children of God that were carried along in this rebellion! And that makes the situation much more serious! It proves, doesn’t it, that the weak in faith, the carnally minded, also of God’s people, not only can, but often do, fall away for a time! The majority makes an impression on them! They dare not stand on their own two feet! Not that they ever stand alone, for their God is always with His people! But they have not the spiritual stamina to oppose with weapons of faith the carnal multitude! They are easily carried away with the doctrines of materialism and carnality! And generally this is under the influence and persuasion of ungodly and evil men, who, when they become the majority in the church, do much to create schism and promote dissatisfaction with the ways of God!
They hear the Word of God which always declares to all whom God in His good pleasure sends it, that Canaan, or if you please, heaven, is a land that must be taken by conquest! Moreover, the Lord promises His people that the victory over all their foes will not be by human power and material weapons, but the Lord Himself will give the victory! But these poor people who follow the majority see only the giants and the sword! And quite naturally when the majority, under evil leadership that is persuasive enough sees only giants and not the God Who made them, they turn to rebellion against the Lord and against the faithful few who would encourage them, as Caleb did, by saying: “Let us go up at once and possess it; for we are well able to overcome it.” Or, to put it in the words of another Scripture: “He that is with us is more than they that are with them.” If God be for us, who can be against us? He that spared not His own Son, how shall He not also with Him give us all things?” This is the language of faith! But unbelief cannot speak this language, and the carnally minded will not speak it!
One man with God is a majority, no matter how many there be who would deny this!
Though it may give temporal satisfaction to the flesh to be in the camp of the majority, it is not always safe!
How morbid is the conclusion of those who followed the majority report! “Would God that we had died in the land of Egypt, or would God we had died in this wilderness!”
The speech of hopeless despair!
How wicked is the rebellion expressed in the questions they asked! “And wherefore hath the Lord brought us unto this land, to fall by the sword, that our wives and our children should be a prey? Were it not better for us to return into Egypt?”
In the eyes of such rebels there is no leader strong and brave enough to lead them to the promised land!
Unless by the grace of God they repent, they shall go into a bondage that is more humiliating and destructive than the lash cords of Egypt!
How foolish is the foolishness of such rebellion that would desire to return to bondage and death!
How wise is the true wisdom that envisions the possession of the land of the promise through a conquest in which the God of our salvation overcomes all our foes, and nestles His people safely in the covert of eternal rest!