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Deuteronomy 1:19-33 -

Sending the spies.

This paragraph contains a brief review of events which are recorded in Numbers 13:1-33 ; Numbers 14:1-45 . Israel had left the wilderness of Sinai; the cloud now rested in the wilderness of Paran. At this point they were not very many days' journey from the land of promise. But it would seem that they did not like to go in and take possession of the land without more information than they as yet possessed as to its accessibility and its fitness for their permanent home. So they proposed that spies should be sent ahead. We gather that, at the desire of the people, Moses asked advice of the Lord, and in consequence he wag bidden to accede to their request. Twelve men were sent. Ten brought an evil report of the land; two only were full of heart and hope, strong in faith, giving glory to God. Numbers carried more weight than worth . The report of ten bore down that of two. The people would not believe the Lord. They said in their unbelief, "Let us make a captain, and return into Egypt," and even ( Nehemiah 9:17 ) "appointed a captain to return to their bondage." And a sad and sorrowful glance does Moses cast over the sin of that time. Let us glance at it too. We will endeavor to gather a true estimate of the course which Israel took, taking care, as we go on, to see how far the incidents recorded here convey instruction to many whose feelings are analogous to theirs, In estimating this case, let us look—


1. It was unnecessary . For they had been redeemed by a strong hand and by a stretched-out arm from the bondage and degradation of Egypt; their deliverance had been effected for them by the free love, spontaneous care, and watchful providence of God. Surely it should not have been hard to argue on this wise: "He who has shown us such wondrous mercy will not be wanting to us to the end." It was surely needless to send out any scouts to Canaan, to survey the land before them. A wiser and better care than theirs had done this for them, and there was no more need for them to send to spy out the land than to have sent pioneers to clear their way through the deep! But, in thus chiding Israel, are we not really rebuking ourselves? We have to bethink us of a rescue, before which that of Israel fades into nothingness. And how has our rescue in Christ been effected? By our power or skill? Nay, but by a wisdom, power, and love, which in blessed union did combine in the cross of Christ to save us. Is not, then, the inference more than warranted, "He that spared not," etc. But if so, why need we strain our eyes to pierce the gloom that hangs over our future course? We need not faithlessly forecast.

2. It was undesirable , and that on several grounds.

II. LET US LOOK AT THE CONCLUSIOIN TO WHICH ISRAEL CAME ON THE REPORT OF THE SPIES . They resolved to go back and to return to Egypt, and appointed a captain to lead them. It was one-sided, forgetful, ungrateful, and ruinous.

1. It was one-sided . True, the sons of Anak were in the way. But who was above them all? See Caleb's putting of the case, in Numbers 14:6-9 .

2. It was forgetful For was not the fact of all these enemies being in the land explicitly named in one of the earliest promises ( Exodus 3:17 ); and had not God promised to drive them out?

3. It was ungrateful . After all the love which had been shown them, how could they so requite it?

4. It was ruinous (see Numbers 4:33-38 ; Deuteronomy 1:32-39 ). But are there not some now who start fairly in the Christian race, or seem to do so, and yet who, when some difficulty meets or threatens them, turn hack and go away (cf. Matthew 13:20 , Matthew 13:21 )? Nor can we safely neglect the warning consequent on this incident given in Hebrews 3:4 . To quit the leadership of Christ because of present or impending difficulties will be much more grievously sinful than it was for Israel to propose to quit the leadership of Moses. The four points named above will apply also here. It will be:

1. One-sided . For supposing, as we try to peer into the future, possible or even certain difficulties do present themselves, ought we not to remember that with the demand on the strength there will be given strength to meet the demand? Why look at one without looking at the other?

2. It will be forgetful . For what are the words of Holy Writ? What are we bidden to expect? Have we ever been told that we are to have a smooth path through life? Have we never read that "through much tribulation we must enter the kingdom?" Have we not read that we must expect to be "partakers" of Christ's sufferings?

3. It will be ungrateful . Did not our Savior tread a thorny path for us; and have we no return to make in treading a thorny path for him? Do we thus intend to repay the sorrow and blood of Calvary?

4. It will be ruinous if we turn back. Difficulties we seek to shun will be multiplied a hundred-fold. The ease we would fain secure will not be ours. While, instead of having to conquer the sons of Anak, we shall have to encounter the condemnation of our Savior and Lord. Let us press onward still to the rest which remaineth. On! for honor demands it. On! for gratitude requires it. On! for love, infinite love, expects it. On! only a step at a time, and if the giant Anakim appear, the Lord will fight for us. On! and if we come to Jericho's walls, faith's trumpet blast shall bring them to the ground. On! and you will have many a cluster of grapes sent to you by the Lord of the land, to show you its richness, and that you may taste of its fruits ere you enter there! Trust your God, ye people, follow the Lord fully, and not all the powers of earth or hell shall keep you from the promised rest!

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