1. SPIES SENT INTO CANAAN
a. For what purpose were spies sent from Kadesh into the land of Canaan? Actually, whose idea was it for the spies to go into the land of Canaan? Numbers 13:1–3; 17–20; Deuteronomy 1:20–25.
b. After how many days did the spies return to Kadesh, and what visible tokens of the fertility of the land did they bring back? Numbers 13:21–26.
“They went, and surveyed the whole land, entering at the southern border and proceeding to the northern extremity. They returned after an absence of forty days. The people of Israel were cherishing high hopes and were waiting in eager expectancy. The news of the spies’ return was carried from tribe to tribe and was hailed with rejoicing. The people rushed out to meet the messengers, who had safely escaped the dangers of their perilous undertaking. The spies brought specimens of the fruit, showing the fertility of the soil.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 387.
2. THE SPIES’ REPORTS
a. What report did ten of the spies bring? Numbers 13:27–29, 31–33.
“[The ten spies] were resolved to discourage all effort to gain possession of Canaan. They distorted the truth in order to sustain their baleful influence. . . . When men yield their hearts to unbelief they place themselves under the control of Satan, and none can tell to what lengths he will lead them.”— Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 389.
b. What was the response of Caleb and Joshua? Numbers 13:30; 14:6–9. What is one of our greatest needs today?
“Calebs have been greatly needed in different periods of the history of our work. Today we need men of thorough fidelity, men who follow the Lord fully, men who are not disposed to be silent when they ought to speak, who are as true as steel to principle, who do not seek to make a pretentious show, but who walk humbly with God, patient, kind, obliging, courteous men, who understand that the science of prayer is to exercise faith and show works that will tell to the glory of God and the good of His people.”—The SDA Bible Commentary [E. G. White Comments], vol. 1, p. 1113.
c. How did the people receive the conflicting reports of the spies? Numbers 14:1–4, 10.
“Hope and courage gave place to cowardly despair, as the spies uttered the sentiments of their unbelieving hearts, which were filled with discouragement prompted by Satan. Their unbelief cast a gloomy shadow over the congregation, and the mighty power of God, so often manifested in behalf of the chosen nation, was forgotten. The people did not wait to reflect; they did not reason that He who had brought them thus far would certainly give them the land; they did not call to mind how wonderfully God had delivered them from their oppressors, cutting a path through the sea and destroying the pursuing hosts of Pharaoh. . . .”—Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 388.
“Revolt and open mutiny quickly followed; for Satan had full sway, and the people seemed bereft of reason.”—Ibid., p. 389.
3. THE PEOPLE MURMUR
a. How did Moses and Aaron act when they saw that the people had accepted the cowardly report and were getting rebellious? Numbers 14:5.
“In humiliation and distress ‘Moses and Aaron fell on their faces before all the assembly of the congregation of the children of Israel,’ not knowing what to do to turn them from their rash and passionate purpose. Caleb and Joshua attempted to quiet the tumult. With their garments rent in token of grief and indignation, they rushed in among the people, and their ringing voices were heard above the tempest of lamentation and rebellious grief: ‘The land, which we passed through to search it, is an exceeding good land. If the Lord delight in us, then He will bring us into this land, and give it us; a land which floweth with milk and honey. Only rebel not ye against the Lord, neither fear ye the people of the land; for they are bread for us: their defense is departed from them, and the Lord is with us: fear them not.’”—Patriarchs and Prophets, pp. 389, 390.
b. How did the Lord intervene at this crucial moment, and what did He say? Numbers 14:10–12.
“The unfaithful spies were loud in denunciation of Caleb and Joshua, and the cry was raised to stone them. The insane mob seized missiles with which to slay those faithful men. They rushed forward with yells of madness, when suddenly the stones dropped from their hands, a hush fell upon them, and they shook with fear. God had interposed to check their murderous design. The glory of His presence, like a flaming light, illuminated the tabernacle. All the people beheld the signal of the Lord. A mightier one than they had revealed Himself, and none dared continue their resistance. The spies who brought the evil report crouched terror-stricken, and with bated breath sought their tents.”—Ibid., p. 390.
c. As Moses pleaded with the Lord, what reason did he give for the Lord to pardon and spare the people of Israel? Numbers 14:13–19.
4. THE MURMURERS ARE PUNISHED
a. What sentence did the Lord pronounce upon the murmurers and rebels? Numbers 14:22, 23, 29–33.
“In their rebellion the people had exclaimed, ‘Would God we had died in this wilderness!’ Now this prayer was to be granted. . . . As the spies had spent forty days in their journey, so the hosts of Israel were to wander in the wilderness forty years.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 391.
b. How did God punish the ten spies who gave the evil report? Numbers 14:36, 37.
“When Moses made known to the people the divine decision, their rage was changed to mourning. They knew that their punishment was just. The ten unfaithful spies, divinely smitten by the plague, perished before the eyes of all Israel; and in their fate the people read their own doom.”—Ibid.
c. What sin of presumption did the murmurers commit the next day, and with what results? Numbers 14:39–45.
“Forced to submission at last, the survivors ‘returned, and wept before the Lord;’ but ‘the Lord would not hearken’ to their voice. Deuteronomy 1:45. By their signal victory the enemies of Israel, who had before awaited with trembling the approach of that mighty host, were inspired with confidence to resist them. All the reports they had heard concerning the marvelous things that God had wrought for His people, they now regarded as false, and they felt that there was no cause for fear. That first defeat of Israel, by inspiring the Canaanites with courage and resolution, had greatly increased the difficulties of the conquest. Nothing remained for Israel but to fall back from the face of their victorious foes, into the wilderness, knowing that here must be the grave of a whole generation.”—Ibid., p. 394.
5. FALLING SHORT OF GODLY SORROW
a. What kind of repentance leads to salvation? 2 Corinthians 7:10. What was missing in the sorrow of the Israelites?
“Now [the people] seemed sincerely to repent of their sinful conduct; but they sorrowed because of the result of their evil course rather than from a sense of their ingratitude and disobedience. When they found that the Lord did not relent in His decree, their self-will again arose, and they declared that they would not return into the wilderness. In commanding them to retire from the land of their enemies, God tested their apparent submission and proved that it was not real. . . . Their hearts were unchanged, and they only needed an excuse to occasion a similar outbreak. . . .
“Had they mourned for their sin when it was faithfully laid before them, this sentence would not have been pronounced; but they mourned for the judgment; their sorrow was not repentance, and could not secure a reversing of their sentence.”— Patriarchs and Prophets, pp. 391, 392.
b. What accompanies true repentance? Acts 3:19.
“In order to stand forgiven, the sinner must exercise repentance toward God, whose law has been transgressed, and faith in Christ, his atoning sacrifice. Without true repentance, there can be no true conversion.”—The Spirit of Prophecy, vol. 4, p. 298.
PERSONAL REVIEW QUESTIONS
1. What was shown by the fact that the people were eager to send spies to survey the land?
2. How did unbelief affect the ten spies and the congregation as a whole? How can we show the same unbelief?
3. How does a true leader attempt to counteract the work of complainers?
4. Would you like God to take you at your word when you speak in haste?
5. If I am truly sorry for my sins, what will it lead to in my own life?