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In this Chapter we have recorded the account of Israel's plan, in prosecuting their journey. Being arrived, to the very borders of Canaan, Moses is commanded by GOD to send a man of every tribe of Israel, to spy out the land. The persons deputed to this office are here mentioned, and an account is given of their journey: after forty days search, they return, bringing with them some of the fruits of the land: but all, excepting two of them, report unfavorably of the ability of Israel to conquer the country.
If we compare those verses with Deuteronomy 1:19-23 , we shall discover that, though as in this place it is said, that the LORD spake unto Moses concerning those spies, going to search the land, yet the thought originated in some of the people. The LORD himself had spied out the land for them long before, and declared it to be a good land, and had promised it to their fathers; but notwithstanding this, they chose to see it for themselves, and did not wish altogether to trust to the LORD. See Ezekiel 20:6 ; Genesis 13:12-17 . Alas! what unbelief, distrust of GOD'S mercy, and self-confidence, is in the heart of man! Reader! do you not discover, upon many occasions, evidences of the same in your own?
The HOLY GHOST hath been pleased to mention by name, the persons who went on this embassy. But observe with what particular attention Joshua is mentioned, and his name changed. The addition of the first syllable of the glorious name of JEHOVAH, to Hosea, is no doubt meant in great honor. If the Reader will consult Jeremiah 22:28 . he will find an instance where the taking off this first syllable was intended in disgrace. Coniah's original name was Jeconiah, See 2 Kings 24:8-15 . But the HOLY GHOST hath been pleased to mark down Joshua's name with this particular mark of distinction, from yet another consideration, in that his name signifies a Saviour, and Joshua is in a most eminent degree a type of the LORD JESUS, as in the book of Joshua very strikingly appears.
Are not all these enquiries, in a spiritual sense, suited to the awakened soul? questions concerning that upper and brighter world, of which the promised land was a type? And when, by faith in lively exercise, we are enabled to believe what GOD hath said of the joys which he hath prepared for them that love him; are not these things similar to the spies going up to search the land?-Reader! may it be your happiness and mine, to live by faith, in the full assurance of those everlasting realities, and to have the same spirit, as those worthies we read of, Hebrews 11:13-16 .
The sacred historian hath here marked the outline of the spies route through the promised land. The map of that country shows that they went quite through it; for from the wilderness of Zin to Rehob, is nearly south to north. Hebron, which they visited, is a memorable spot, rendered so by its being near to the cave of Abraham and Sarah, their great Ancestors. And Reader! it is worthy your observation, that as the LORD promised this land to Abraham and his seed for a possession, here the dead bodies of Abraham and Sarah lay, to keep, as it were possession of it, until the time of the promise arrived, for his living race fully to enjoy it. See Genesis 23:0 ; Genesis 25:9-10 . I cannot help detaining the Reader just to remark to him, that the grapes of Eshcol were to the believing Israelites as a sample of the fruitfulness of the country, so they were a sweet type of the first fruits of the Spirit, on the minds of the LORD'S people now; an earnest, as it were, of what the soul will be fully satisfied with, when we come to receive the end of our faith, even the salvation of the soul. 2 Corinthians 5:5 .
Here we have the report of the spies; and a very sinful one it was. They could not but own the fruitfulness of the land, for the grapes, and pomegranates, and figs, manifested what it was. But when they magnified the power of the enemy, whom Israel, when upheld by the arm of Omnipotence, had so often subdued, and whom GOD had promised to drive out from before them, what a wretched proof do they afford of unbelief, of impatience, disobedience, and distrust! But stop Reader, in the perusal of this rebellious spirit of Israel, search thine own heart. See, if you cannot find similar instances, in your own experience. Hath not GOD promised his people now a better country than even Canaan? Is not our JESUS gone before, to take possession of it in our name? And doth he not send to us, in the sweet influences of his blessed SPIRIT, every now and then most evident tokens both of its reality, and of our assurance of one day obtaining it by his blood and righteousness! And yet do you not find, amidst all this, that you sometimes question the whole, as if it were a delusion? LORD! I would say for myself and Reader, LORD, increase our faith!
Reader! do not fail, in this view of Caleb's zeal, to remark the blessed properties of distinguishing grace! And is not Caleb, in this instance, a type of all the true solders of the LORD JESUS, who in spite of the evil report of the ungodly, encourage the hearts of the LORD'S heritage to hold on, and hold out, assured of victory through the blood of the LAMB. See in the following chapter the LORD'S gracious approbation of this, Numbers 14:22-24 .
MY soul! in the sad picture this representation holds up to thy view of unbelieving, distrustful Israel, do thou behold a true image of thyself. Hath not my GOD and FATHER promised to bring all his people into the promised land? Is there not a rest for the people of GOD? Is not this at once both the gift of the FATHER'S love, and the purchase of the Redeemer's grace; and is not the HOLY GHOST most graciously engaged, by the conquests of his power, to drive out all my enemies before me, and to bring me in by his own sovereignty? And yet, in the midst of all these positive assurances, am I not frequently questioning the reality of heaven's joys, the sufficiency of JESUS'S redemption, and the suitableness of what that blessed Redeemer hath done and suffered, to answer my own personal wants therein? Dear LORD! how just would it have been to me, hadst thou dealt by me as I have richly deserved; and, if considered without reference to my interest in thy righteousness, to have given me up to an hardened, unbelieving mind. SON of GOD! I beseech thee cause my soul, through the softening influences of thy blessed SPIRIT, to be humbled upon all occasions for the weakness of my faith! And while I look back, by the HOLY GHOST's aid in that precious part of his character, as the Remembrancer, to bring to my recollection through what a series of mercies, like Israel from Egypt, to this wilderness of Zin, the LORD hath brought me; oh! may I hear thy gracious voice, in the tender expostulations of thy love, saying personally to my heart, as to his disciples of old, Oh! thou of little faith wherefore dust thou doubt. LORD! grant that the many tokens of thy love in quickening grace, reviving grace, confirming grace, may be to my soul in recollection, as the gapes of Eshcol: and may my GOD give me the spirit of Caleb, to know and believe that I shall at length overcome all the enemies of my salvation, and be more than conqueror through thy grace enabling me.
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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Numbers 13". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://studylight.org/
the Second Week of Advent