Truth, Understanding, Insight

Spies, Espionage and Faith

17th July 2005, hej


7) Faith and Providence

When the two spies quote Rahab's report to Joshua, it repeats the sentiments that Joshua himself had confessed when he was a spy forty years before. This would have been encouraging for Joshua. As the elders were encouraging Joshua, the positive spies' report was providential reinforcement. If Joshua sent the spies because he feared the greatness of his task, it was wonderful that the spies brought back Rahab's faith to Joshua. Joshua was a man of faith in need of encouragement for an enormous task. Yahweh through events provides it while at the same time redeeming Rahab.

This brings us to ask why Moses was instructed to send twelve spies to see the land. This is recorded in Numbers 13 and 14. First it should be remembered that Moses was indeed a meek leader. Many times before this incident his people run amuk. Even his brother and sister try to take over (Numbers 12:1). Joshua seems to send out spies without direction, whereas Moses waited meekly for direction. In this case he was directed to send rulers of the tribes as spies (v13). This is a critical facet in the unfolding events. If rulers are sent then their report will not only carry weight but they will personally have an influence over the nation. Even though the job was large in scope, twelve still seems excessive. That Moses was instructed to send one spy from each tribe, indicates that the report was to be such that it was to influence the whole nation. Yahweh had set up a situation where there was no way Moses could control the outcome. Whatever the report, the nation would follow the spies.

Unlike Joshua, Moses had no need of faith building, he was as close to Yahweh as any man had been. His people, however, Yahweh knew as rebellious, and Moses makes no apology when he says,

You have been rebellious against Yahweh from the day that I knew you. (Deu 9:24 WEB)

If Moses knew the nation was rebellious, Yahweh would have known the likely outcome. The spy mission was to bring a report to test the people. The report was good, however the spies, except Caleb and Joshua, feared the people of the land. Therefore, the people did not believe Yahweh's promise. Though Caleb and Joshua stand up to plead for Yahweh, the people disregard them.

At the time the twelve spies returned there was a lack of belief in the nation that Yahweh would give them the land. The elders first response to the spies report was,

Let us make a captain, and let us return into Egypt. (Num 14:4)

Whereas forty years later, the elders believed Yahweh's promise, yet knew there would be a great effort needed to obtain it, which they would attempt to do even though they knew it would be difficult. In the first spy mission Yahweh commands the sending forth of spies to test the nation's faith and prove it, in the second Joshua sends out spies, and providentially faith is built up.

And if the first spy mission had been successful, Rahab would not have been born, and Israel would not have learnt the discipline of the journey in the wilderness.