Moses sent twelve scouts to explore Canaan. He gave them specific instructions including an order to do their best to bring back samples of the crops they saw. It happened to be the time of year for harvesting the first fruits. The account of this adventure is recorded in the 13th chapter of Numbers. There we are told that the men cut down a branch with a single cluster of grapes so large that it took two of them to carry it on a pole between them. The name of that place was called the Valley of Eschol (which means “cluster”). All twelve men saw the blessing that was in the promised land. You know the rest of the story. Only Joshua and Caleb expressed faith in God’s ability to fulfill His promise. As a result the entire nation of Israel wandered in a wilderness for forty years.
In the New Testament we are told that these true stories are written to express greater truths for our benefit. In the story of the scouts in Canaan, the cluster of grapes is significant. The abundance of those grapes was a visible reminder of the blessings that the land before them held. The ten men who brought a negative report focused on fortified gates and fearful giants. The obstacles blinded their eyes to the opportunities. Their faith gave way to their fear.
We do well to learn from this well known story. In the midst of our difficulties it is a temptation to rehearse our problems rather than to remember God’s promises. Such thinking cost the Israelites forty years of their lives in desert wandering. In similar manner it can cause us to wander about in confusion, doubt and despair. Remember, we too, have a promised land. Like the cluster of grapes, God’s grace, goodness and blessings serve as reminders of what lies ahead. II Peter 1:4 says: “…He has given us great and precious promises.” Let us stand on them.
– Terry Morrison