After exploring the land for forty days, the men returned to Moses, Aaron, and the whole community of Israel at Kadesh in the wilderness of Paran. They reported to the whole community what they had seen and showed them the fruit they had taken from the land. This was their report to Moses: “We entered the land you sent us to explore, and it is indeed a bountiful country—a land flowing with milk and honey. Here is the kind of fruit it produces. But the people living there are powerful, and their towns are large and fortified. We even saw giants there, the descendants of Anak! The Amalekites live in the Negev, and the Hittites, Jebusites, and Amorites live in the hill country. The Canaanites live along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea and along the Jordan Valley.”
But Caleb tried to quiet the people as they stood before Moses. “Let’s go at once to take the land,” he said. “We can certainly conquer it!”
But the other men who had explored the land with him disagreed. “We can’t go up against them! They are stronger than we are!” So they spread this bad report about the land among the Israelites: “The land we traveled through and explored will devour anyone who goes to live there. All the people we saw were huge. We even saw giants there, the descendants of Anak. Next to them we felt like grasshoppers, and that’s what they thought, too!”
God told the Israelites that the Promised Land was rich and fertile. Not only that, he promised that this bountiful land would be theirs. When the spies reported back to Moses, they gave plenty of good reasons for entering the land, but many of them couldn’t stop focusing on their fear. Talk of giants and fortified cities made it easy to forget about God’s promise to help.
When the spies returned to Kadesh from scouting the new land, the people had to decide either to enter the land or to retreat. Kadesh was only a desert oasis, but it became a crossroads in Israel’s history. When they chose to retreat, they were condemned to wander 40 years in the desert. It was also at Kadesh that Moses disobeyed God (Number 20:7-12). For this, he too was denied entrance into the Promised Land. Kadesh was near Canaan’s southern borders, but because of the Israelites’ lack of faith, they needed more than a lifetime to travel from Kadesh to the Promised Land.
When facing a tough decision, don’t let potential difficulties blind you to God’s power to help and his promise to guide. Caleb, for one, was willing to take the unpopular stand to trust God and his promises.
To stand firm when you go against the crowd, you must: (1) have the facts (Caleb had seen the land himself); (2) have the right attitude (Caleb trusted God’s promise to give Israel the land); (3) state clearly what you believe (Caleb said, “We can certainly conquer it”). Ask God to give you courage to make the right decisions, even when they aren’t popular.