Scouting Out God's Promises

Discovery for Students

Scouting Out God's Promises



Numbers 13:1 through 14:45

“And Caleb stilled the people before Moses, and said, Let us go up at once, and possess it; for we are well able to overcome it.” (Numbers 13:30)


Many significant events happened in the land of Kadesh. Moses had disobeyed God in this same land. Both Aaron and Miriam had died there. The Children of Israel had wandered in the land forty years — one year for each day the spies were in Canaan exploring the land. In today’s text, the Children of Israel waited there, near Canaan’s border, for news from the twelve spies.

The “Promised Land” (the Land of Canaan) was relatively small: 150 miles long, 60 miles wide. The spies would have traveled about 500 miles during the forty-day survey of the land. The lush hills were covered with figs, dates, and nut trees. Some of the cities visited had thick, high walls.

In Numbers 14:22, God referred ten times to the people tempting Him. They had:

  • Doubted at the Red Sea (Exodus 14:11-12)
  • Complained about the bitter water at Marah (Exodus 15:24)
  • Complained, again, in the wilderness of Sin (Exodus 16:3)
  • Collected more than a day’s portion of manna against the Lord’s instructions (Exodus 16:20)
  • They tried to collect manna on the Sabbath (Exodus 16:27-29)
  • Chided and murmured against Moses for water at Rephidim (Exodus 17:2-3)
  • Committed idolatry by worshiping a golden calf (Exodus 32:7-10)
  • Complained (Numbers 11:1)
  • Complained about the lack of food variety (Numbers 11:4)
  • Failed to trust about entering the Promised Land (Numbers 14:1-4)

God judged those who complained, doubted, and refused to believe His promises. All who were twenty years of age and older — except Caleb and Joshua — were told that their “carcasses” would be wasted in the wilderness.


  1. Read Numbers 13:17-20. What information were the spies to find out?
  2. The Lord promised to bring the Israelites to a land “flowing with milk and honey” (See Exodus 3:8,17; 13:5; and 33:3). How did this compare with the report given by the spies after they returned? What conclusions should have been made from this report?
  3. What can we learn from the doubting of the Children of Israel?
  4. In Numbers 14:6, we read that Joshua and Caleb “rent their clothes.” What does this mean and why did they do this?
  5. How did the Israelites react when Joshua and Caleb urged them to enter Canaan? (Numbers 14:10)
  6. Why did Moses intercede for the people (Numbers 14:13-19) after they rebelled? What did his prayer spare them from? How can we intercede for others?
  7. Describe the punishment God placed on Israel. (Numbers 14:34, 37)
  8. When the Israelites realized their error, they attempted to enter the Promised Land anyway and were defeated by the Amalekites and Canaanites (Numbers 14:40-45). What caused their defeat? How can we avoid “spiritual” defeat in our life?


The promises of God are just as sure today as they were in the time of Joshua and Caleb. With God, victories can be won before the battle ever takes place — they are won when we simply trust Him.