Fear or Faith?

In Numbers 13-14, we read about a very critical moment in the life of the Israelites. They had just been saved from slavery in Egypt, crossed the Red Sea, and were preparing to take possession of the Promised Land.

God tells Moses to send 1 man from each of the 12 tribes of Israel to scout out the land of Canaan. When the men return, 10 of them had attitudes of fear, while only 2 had attitudes of faith.


The Lord spoke to Moses: “Send men to scout out the land of Canaan I am giving to the Israelites. Send one man who is a leader among them from each of their ancestral tribes.” Moses sent them from the Wilderness of Paran at the Lord’s command. All the men were leaders in Israel.

Numbers 13:1-3

From this passage, we learn two key truths about God:

#1 – God is bigger than our circumstances.

Entering the land of Canaan looked like an impossible task to the Israelites. They feared the inhabitants, were uncertain of what to expect, and began to fear that they would die in the wilderness. But God was bigger than their circumstances.

#2 – God always keeps His promises.

God made a promise to the Israelites to save them from slavery and give them, His people, the Promised Land, the land of Canaan, flowing with milk and honey.

So they went up and scouted out the land from the Wilderness of Zin as far as Rehob near the entrance to Hamath. They went up through the Negev and came to Hebron, where Ahiman, Sheshai, and Talmai, the descendants of Anak, were living. Hebron was built seven years before Zoan in Egypt. When they came to the Valley of Eshcol, they cut down a branch with a single cluster of grapes, which was carried on a pole by two men. They also took some pomegranates and figs. That place was called the Valley of Eshcol because of the cluster of grapes the Israelites cut there. At the end of forty days they returned from scouting out the land. The men went back to Moses, Aaron, and the entire Israelite community in the Wilderness of Paran at Kadesh. They brought back a report for them and the whole community, and they showed them the fruit of the land.

Numbers 13:21-26

Twelve men, one from each tribe of Israel, went to Canaan to scout out the land and report back to Moses their findings. 

All twelve men went into Canaan. All twelve men traveled the same route, saw the people living there, they saw the large cluster of grapes.

They reported to Moses: “We went into the land where you sent us. Indeed it is flowing with milk and honey, and here is some of its fruit. However, the people living in the land are strong, and the cities are large and fortified. We also saw the descendants of Anak there. The Amalekites are living in the land of the Negev; the Hethites, Jebusites, and Amorites live in the hill country; and the Canaanites live by the sea and along the Jordan.” Then Caleb quieted the people in the presence of Moses and said, “Let’s go up now and take possession of the land because we can certainly conquer it!” But the men who had gone up with him responded, “We can’t attack the people because they are stronger than we are!”

Numbers 13:27-31

While all twelve men experienced the same things, ten of them had attitudes of fear and reported their findings differently than the two men who had attitudes of faith.

The men who were full of fear reported on giant men and strong fortifications. The men of faith reported that they were ready to go and conquer the land God had promised them.



I am alone.

I am too weak.

I am scared.

I can’t make it.

I cannot.


I am with you.  (Isaiah 41:10)

I am your strength. (Philippians 4:13)

I am your courage. (Romans 8:31)

I’ll get you through it. (1 Corin. 10:13)

I can. (Mark 10:27)

Fearful people always find the negative.

“But the men who had gone up with him responded, ‘We can’t attack the people because they are stronger than we are!'” – Numbers 13:31

Fearful people exaggerate the story.

“So they gave a negative report to the Israelites about the land they had scouted: ‘The land we passed through to explore is one that devours its inhabitants, and all the people we saw in it are men of great size.'” – Numbers 13:32

Fearful people cause others to fear.

“Then the whole community broke into loud cries, and the people wept that night.” – Numbers 14:1

Faithful people focus on the positive.

“[Caleb and Joshua] said to the entire Israelite community: ‘The land we passed through and explored is an extremely good land.’ – Numbers 14:7

Faithful people remember God’s promises.

If the Lord is pleased with us, he will bring us into this land, a land flowing with milk and honey, and give it to us.” – Numbers 14:8

Faithful people model obedience to God, and inspire courage in others.

Only don’t rebel against the Lord, and don’t be afraid of the people of the land, for we will devour them. Their protection has been removed from them, and the Lord is with us. Don’t be afraid of them!”– Numbers 14:9

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