At long last, the Israelites had reached the border of the Promised Land the Lord was bringing them to.
“Choose a leader from each tribe,” God said to Moses. “Have them go into the land and explore it.”
So Moses sent twelve tribal leaders from the Israelite’s camp in the desert to spy out their new home and bring back word of what it was like.
The twelve spies found a land that had good fertile soil for growing fruits and vegetables so big they could win prizes. It was so rich with good food that it seemed like milk and honey must have flowed in rivers.
After forty days of exploring, the leaders of the tribes returned to the campsite, carrying enormous grapes.
“The land is beautiful,” ten of them exclaimed. “But the people who live there are terrifying. They are taller than us, stronger than us, and they live in huge cities with walls built around them. We could not possibly be safe in this place. We would be surrounded by fierce warriors on every side.
When the Israelites heard this, they began to shout and cry.
“Why would God bring us to such an awful place?” they moaned.
But one of the tribal leaders who had spied out the land disagreed with the rest.
“Wait!” Caleb cried out. “Why are you panicking? If God told us this is where we’re supposed to live, obviously He will keep us safe here.”
“He wouldn’t have brought us all the way here, otherwise,” Joshua agreed.
But the other ten spies convinced everyone that the land was bad. They said the people were so tall the Israelites would feel like grasshoppers in comparison.
“That’s it!” the people cried out to Moses and Aaron. “Let’s just give up and go back to Egypt. At least there we know what to expect.”
Moses and Aaron bowed down and began to pray to God right there. Joshua and Caleb were so distressed that all they could do was tear at their clothes in sorrow.
“We saw the land ourselves,” Joshua insisted. “It is good.”
“All we have to do to be safe is to obey God,” Caleb added. “With God on our side, we have nothing to fear.”
Meanwhile, Moses and Aaron continued praying to God, hoping that He would tell them what to say to the Israelites.
“Tell these people, who have proven how little they actually believe in Me,” the Lord whispered to Moses and Aaron, “that this was their final chance. If they don’t want to enter this land, then I won’t make them. In fact, I won’t allow any of them to enter this land. They will live the rest of their lives here in the desert. But their children, who have done no wrong, will be the ones who one day get to cross into this beautiful land. It will be theirs, and I will bless and protect them.”
And so, the Israelites continued to wander from one campsite to another, for the next forty years, until their children were the new leaders of the land, and God protected them through all their journeys.