After 40 years of wandering in the wilderness, the Israelites finally made it back to the border of the Promised Land. Before crossing the Jordan, Moses speaks to the people one last time. This is the context for the book of Deuteronomy, where Moses retells the Israelites’ history from when they left Mount Horeb until now.

Deuteronomy 1:19-23 recounts the sending of the 12 spies into the Promised Land. However, Moses’ account is different than what he wrote in Numbers. Specifically, verse 22.

“Then all of you came to me and said, “Let us send men ahead to spy out the land for us and bring back a report about the route we are to take and the towns we will come to.”

Deuteronomy 1:22 (NIV)

Moses claims that the Israelites came to him and suggested they send out spies when Numbers 13:1-2 gives us this intelligence.

The Lord said to Moses, “Send some men to explore the land of Canaan, which I am giving to the Israelites. From each ancestral tribe send one of its leaders.”

Numbers 13:1-2 (NIV)

Is this a contradiction? Is Moses lying about the original situation? Has he forgotten since he’s 120 years old? Perhaps Moses knows that most of the people alive back then are now dead, so there’s no one to contradict him? 

No, there is no contradiction, and Moses isn’t lying. Neither is he changing “his story” after so many years or forgotten what “really” happened. Instead, Deuteronomy 1:22 gives us insight into what happened 40 years earlier. Allow me to present my version of what happened based on Deuteronomy 1:22.

  • The Israelites got to the Promised Land.
  • Moses said, “Here we are, let’s go get what God promised!”
  • The people said, in unbelief, “We should spy out the land.”
  • Moses said, “I’ll ask God about that.”
  • God said, “Send out spies into the land.”
  • Moses then told the people to send spies into the land.
  • The spies were sent out and returned after 40 days with a bad report. Which the people believed. Well, all the spies except for Joshua and Caleb.

That’s the gist of what happened. 

Here are four things we can learn from this incident. 

1. We are responsible for our bad choices.

It was the people’s idea to send the spies out. Even though they consulted God through Moses, their initial desire came from unbelief. So, when God told Moses to send out a spy from each family, he was extending grace.

2. We can make bad choices and think we are following God.

As I said, the reason behind sending the spies was unbelief. The people might have thought they had God’s blessing when, instead of coming back to them and saying, “No, just go into the land I told you. It’s okay.” God told them to send out 12 spies, one from each family. The people may have thought they were following God, but they weren’t.

3. God allows us to make mistakes.

The people knew what they were supposed to do, and they didn’t do it. Instead of correcting them when they asked about the spies, the Lord let them do what they wanted to do.

4. God’s way is always the best way.

The Promised Land was, well, The Promised Land. It wasn’t someplace God had briefly considered, like picking a parking spot at the mall, “This one looks good.” Therefore, they could have just waltzed in and set up shop when they arrived. Instead, they doubted and, in their unbelief, paid a heavy price. 

Do you know God? God knows you, and he loves you. He sees you as significant because you are. No one is insignificant to Him. He’s with you today, and he wants you to know him. Jesus died for your sins and mine so we could be free of guilt, freed from death, and live eternally with him. Eternal salvation is just a prayer away.

Pray this prayer with me to accept the gift of salvation:

Lord Jesus, forgive me for all my sins. I repent from my ways. Wash me in your blood and cleanse me from all unrighteousness. I believe that you died on the cross, were buried, and on the third day, God the Father raised you from the dead. Right now, Lord Jesus, I open the door to my heart and receive you into my heart as my Lord and personal Savior. Amen.

If you prayed that prayer, then congratulations! You are on the first step of a brand new life. Allow me to be the first to welcome you to my family, the family of God. There are abundant resources available online for new Christians. You can visit here for more information on what to do next. You can also leave me a comment, and I’ll do my best to help you on the next step of this incredible journey.