Numbers 13:1 tells us much about the greatness of God, “The Lord said to Moses, “Send some men to explore the land of Canaan, which I am giving to the Israelites.” After all the stubborn rebellion and murmuring, God remained faithful to his promise. He was giving them land. No more treks through the desert. Here was a place flowing with milk and honey.
Knowing their faith was weak he graciously commanded Moses to send out spies to explore. Twelve were chosen from each tribe. The Bible is careful to record their names (Numbers 13:5-15). Ten would go down in history as the negative spies who spread a bad report.
To be chosen for this mission was a privilege. As they searched the length and breadth of the land, their intel and report would prepare everyone else to charge into the future with confidence. In our day, this is a staff of 12 peering into the coming year, setting goals, dreaming of what could be by God’s power. It’s a whiteboard session with the words, “Take the land for God” written at the top. Their purpose was to instill confidence to help others experience the blessing of God.
The spies set out, eager to get a sneak peek at their new home. Numbers 13:23 says, “When they reached the Valley of Eshkol, they cut off a branch bearing a single cluster of grapes. Two of them carried it on a pole between them, along with some pomegranates and figs.” The Valley of Eshkol today is the town of Hebron, a place still known for its grapes. At their annual Hebron Grape Festival enormous clusters of grapes still hang, several feet in length (See above picture). The grape is a symbol of abundance, blessing, and joy. After eating manna and quail for two years, I’m thinking constipation was a serious concern. The sight of fresh fruit had to make their mouths water.
The entire camp was abuzz with the news of the scouts’ return. Grape samples were passed around. For ten of the spies, there was good and then bad news. The good news was the land was extremely fertile and full of possibility. The bad news was the opposition. The people there were powerful. Their cities had walls and were well defended. But most intimidating were the giants, the descendants of Anak.
Joshua 14:15 tells us Anak was the greatest man among the Anakim. In the Hebrew, Anakim means “long-necked”, or tall. This tribe of warriors was head and shoulders above the rest. The Israelites believed they were descendants of the Nephilim, a powerful race of giant warriors living before the flood. Genesis 6:4 tells us the Nephilim were “heroes of old, men of renown.”