1 And Yahweh spake unto Moses, saying,
2 Send thou men, that they may search the land of Canaan, which I give unto the children of Israel: of every tribe of their fathers shall ye send a man, every one a ruler among them.
The time of the spies searching out the land would be July or August, the time of the first ripe grapes.
...Like the monarchy, and the temple, the sending of spies was actually the idea of the people, which God permitted, and used for His Own purpose as we learn from Deut. 1:22-
"And ye came near unto me everyone of you, and said, We will send men before us, and they shall search us out the land, and bring us word again by what way we must go up, and into what cities we shall come."
There was no need for spies. God had told them it was a good land, and that He would drive out the inhabitants. That was all they needed. God was their leader. He knew all about the land and the people in it. But He allowed them to send spies to confirm their own fears and faithlessness.
Why were they faithless and afraid? They had had a year and a half's experience of the direct hand of God upon them, both to discipline and to protect. In the cloud over the Tabernacle, and in the daily manna, they had a perpetual and continuing tangible evidence of God's presence and care. But it did not profit them. Paul said-
"not being mixed with faith" (Heb. 4:2).
It is not for us to judge them, but to learn from their failure.
What if we were in the same position - told to attack a warlike and all-fortified enemy in their own homeland, armed only by faith? Often we fail much less difficult tests than this.
Faith was the missing ingredient. Faith does not just happen, nor can it be acquired overnight just when needed.
Faith involves a cause, and a process. The cause is the Word of God-
"Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God."
The process is works, conduct, obedience-"Faith without works is dead." Obedience is the key to faith. Faith cannot live and grow and be strong without it.
If we have real faith, it will control all that we do. Real faith takes full possession of the mind, and controls all thought and action. Faith is the reality of conviction concerning God, concerning both His power and His goodness. It is conviction both in the mind and in the heart - both mental and emotional.
31 But the men that went up with him said, We be not able to go up against the people; for they are stronger than we.
Israel was unprepared for the great task before them - the great call upon their faith. They doubtless thought that they were ready. They doubtless thought they had faith. But when the test came, it tragically revealed-too late-that they did not.
They had not filled their minds with God - meditated in worship upon all His wondrous works, as the Psalms keep telling us we must do if we are to grow and be strong in faith and ready for the test.
They had not exercised and built up the muscles of their faith by day to day seeking God's help and blessing in obedience. They had not developed a personal relationship with God by thinking His thoughts and identifying with Him.
So they failed. They willfully rebelled. They followed the thinking of the flesh instead of the guidance of the Spirit. Right away afterward, they cried and said they would go up to fight, but it was too late - their opportunity had past. God is not mocked. Suddenly He draws the line and shuts the book.
These things are for our admonition. We can succeed, or we can fail. It is up to us. All the ingredients of success are fully available to us. It is entirely up to us whether we choose and use them in wisdom to prepare ourselves for the inevitable, final confrontation - that will lead us to either eternal joy or eternal oblivion.