The Hill Country

When Moses dispatched twelve spies to the hill country of Canaan, he gave them a checklist for their observations:

Are the people strong/weak?
Are they few/many?
Is the land good/bad?
Are the dwellings in camps/fortresses?
Are there trees or not?

“And while you are there, bring back some fruit.” (Num. 13:17-20)

The spies returned with their completed intelligence report and a super-sized cluster of grapes.

We went in to the land where you sent us; and it certainly does flow with milk and honey, and this is its fruit. Nevertheless, the people who live in the land are strong, and the cities are fortified and very large; and moreover, we saw the descendants of Anak there.

Then Caleb quieted the people before Moses and said, “We should by all means go up and take possession of it, for we will surely overcome it.” But the men who had gone up with him said, “We are not able to go up against the people, for they are too strong for us.” (Num 13:27-28, 30-31)

Our Christian lives are a series of faith challenges. Each one presents a question just as the hill country of Canaan did. We can never see past the ridge hiding the future; we always face the question, what lies beyond? Is it good or bad? Are the obstacles easy to overcome or indomitable giants?

At each challenge, we gather three sets of information:

  • Tangible facts
  • Our perception or interpretation of those facts
  • God’s word about the situation

The facts and our interpretations comprise what we call common sense. Ten spies and a fearful nation listened to common sense and refused to fight. “They are too strong for us.” Only Joshua and Caleb considered the information from God’s perspective.

They spoke to all the congregation of the sons of Israel, saying, “The land which we passed through to spy out is an exceedingly good land. If the Lord is pleased with us, then He will bring us into this land and give it to us—a land which flows with milk and honey. Only do not rebel against the Lord; and do not fear the people of the land, for they will be our prey. Their protection has been removed from them, and the Lord is with us; do not fear them.” (Num. 14:7-9)

Joshua and Caleb saw past the intimidating intelligence to vital spiritual truths. Canaan was God’s promised land for Israel, God was with them, and so the Canaanites were as good as beaten. God had already removed the protection of Canaan; the land was up for grabs. Common sense has its place but spiritual sense emboldens us to accomplish God’s purposes.

Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to apply God’s word to the circumstances you face and respond to them in faith.

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