The people traveled many months in the wilderness. One day God said to Moses, “Send spies into Canaan, the country I am giving you. Tell them to see what sort of land it is. Find out what the people are like who live there.”
Moses did as God asked. He choice one man from each of the twelve tribes of Israel. Moses raised his hand and blessed the twelve men as they left camp.
After many, many days the men returned. One was Caleb and another was Joshua, the general. Caleb and
Joshua told Moses, “Oh yes! You should see the land. It’s so beautiful,with strong trees, and gentle hills. Flowers bloom everywhere and the crops are rich and plentiful. It really is as God promised, a land of milk and honey.”
There was only one problem. The people who lived on the land were all very good fighters. Joshua and Caleb knew that with God’s help, they could drive those people out of the land.Not everybody agreed with Joshua and Caleb, though. Some of the other spies were troublemakers. In the end,they spoiled the trip for everyone that day.
The other spies disagreed with Joshua and Caleb. They did not trust God to help them win their battles. They thought the tribes in Canaan were too dangerous to fight.
The Israelites believed these other men instead of believing God’s promises. “Oh Moses!” they cried.”What have you done?”
Moses groaned. The people were complaining again! “Moses, we want to go back to Egypt!”
“Moses, it was your idea to leave Egypt in the first place. We should never have listened to you. Look, now we will die and for what?”
Moses and Aaron fell to their knees.They begged the people to trust God.Joshua and Caleb ripped their clothes.They swore God’s promised land was a good place to live. But the people would not listen. They were very stubborn. They liked feeling sorry for themselves.
Once again God forgave the people.But they had to pay for being so stubborn. Too often they had not believed God or trusted Him. Because Of this God said they would never reach the promised land.
“These people must wander in the wilderness,” He said. “They will all spend the rest of their lives in the desert, all of them except Caleb and Joshua, who believed Me. I could have brought them to the promised land within a year. Instead, the people will wander in the desert for forty years.They will die in the desert. Their Children will be the ones to finally settle in the land of milk and honey.This is their punishment.”
When the people heard this, they cried out loud. It was too late, though.God had made up His mind.
Despite God’s punishment, the people decided since the land was so close, they should go and fight the tribes anyway. They had forgotten that God had just said they would not be the ones to drive the tribes away. Their children would do that.
The people went off to battle, but they lost. Many men died in a battle which God had not helped them win.For the next forty years the people of Israel would wander from place to place. The Lord did not stop leading them, but He did not lead them straight to the promised land. Their punishment was real. They had to spend the rest of their lives walking in circles, so close to Canaan, but never able to enter it.