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©Brett Dolezal

Chapter 1:9-33 (ESV)

Posted on January 27, 2024  - By Chris LaBelle  

Chapter 1:9-33 (ESV) - “At that time I said to you, ‘I am not able to bear you by myself. The Lord your God has multiplied you, and behold, you are today as numerous as the stars of heaven. May the Lord, the God of your fathers, make you a thousand times as many as you are and bless you, as he has promised you! How can I bear by myself the weight and burden of you and your strife? Choose for your tribes wise, understanding, and experienced men, and I will appoint them as your heads.’ And you answered me, ‘The thing that you have spoken is good for us to do.’ So I took the heads of your tribes, wise and experienced men, and set them as heads over you, commanders of thousands, commanders of hundreds, commanders of fifties, commanders of tens, and officers, throughout your tribes. And I charged your judges at that time, ‘Hear the cases between your brothers, and judge righteously between a man and his brother or the alien who is with him. You shall not be partial in judgment. You shall hear the small and the great alike. You shall not be intimidated by anyone, for the judgment is God's. And the case that is too hard for you, you shall bring to me, and I will hear it.’ And I commanded you at that time all the things that you should do.

“Then we set out from Horeb and went through all that great and terrifying wilderness that you saw, on the way to the hill country of the Amorites, as the Lord our God commanded us. And we came to Kadesh-barnea. And I said to you, ‘You have come to the hill country of the Amorites, which the Lord our God is giving us. See, the Lord your God has set the land before you. Go up, take possession, as the Lord, the God of your fathers, has told you. Do not fear or be dismayed.’ Then all of you came near me and said, ‘Let us send men before us, that they may explore the land for us and bring us word again of the way by which we must go up and the cities into which we shall come.’ The thing seemed good to me, and I took twelve men from you, one man from each tribe. And they turned and went up into the hill country, and came to the Valley of Eshcol and spied it out. And they took in their hands some of the fruit of the land and brought it down to us, and brought us word again and said, ‘It is a good land that the Lord our God is giving us.’

“Yet you would not go up, but rebelled against the command of the Lord your God. And you murmured in your tents and said, ‘Because the Lord hated us he has brought us out of the land of Egypt, to give us into the hand of the Amorites, to destroy us. Where are we going up? Our brothers have made our hearts melt, saying, “The people are greater and taller than we. The cities are great and fortified up to heaven. And besides, we have seen the sons of the Anakim there.”’ Then I said to you, ‘Do not be in dread or afraid of them. The Lord your God who goes before you will himself fight for you, just as he did for you in Egypt before your eyes, and in the wilderness, where you have seen how the Lord your God carried you, as a man carries his son, all the way that you went until you came to this place.’ Yet in spite of this word you did not believe the Lord your God, who went before you in the way to seek you out a place to pitch your tents, in fire by night and in the cloud by day, to show you by what way you should go.

Question to consider: Why did it originally seem good to Moses to let the people explore the country of the Amorites?

The Lord their God had already defeated the Amalekites, and the defeat was so sound that Moses’ father-in-law, Jethro, the leader of the Midianites came to recognize that Moses indeed led a great nation. Jethro even advised Moses to choose judges in the manner Moses described in today’s passage. 

God had been present among them in a pillar of cloud by day and fire by night. God gave them daily bread (manna) and quail to eat. God quenched their thirst from water He supplied from a rock! And yet when God called them to go into the land of the Amorites, Israel hesitated. It didn’t matter that the land was fruitful and flowing with milk and honey. It didn’t even matter that God had promised Abraham, Isaac and Jacob that the land would be theirs. They saw the size, strength and number of the Amorites and made up their minds it was an impossible task.

Moses had let them go up to see that the land was good, and yet those who came back (minus Caleb and Joshua) planted seeds of doubt among the people. Moses reminded them that it was not them who would do the fighting, but the Lord their God, and yet they refused to go. So God kept them from the land until the next generation.

We are not called to go into a land and war against it in the name of God. We have been called by Christ to go and make disciples of all nations— everyone we encounter. He promised that the gates of hell cannot stand against this. He promised that He would be with us in doing it. And yet we would rather stay in the safety of the camp and not trust in the promises of God. Our faith is not measured in our willingness to sow a seed offering or speak a prophetic word or impress everyone with our Bible trivia. Our faith is measured in our love for our brothers and sisters in Christ and the work of His kingdom in the world.

It is easy for us to judge the faithlessness of Israel, but what do we do with our own?


Dear heavenly Father, thank You for the grace and mercy You have given us even when our faith falters. Help us to trust in the work of Your Spirit to convict people of sin and work through the gospel to change the hearts of those around us. Amen.