Thought for the day – Friday 22 May

Thought for the day - Friday 22 May
Dear All
A few short years ago when I was a boy I, along with just about every other boy and girl of my age, went to Sunday School. It was fun. Fun was in short supply then, the fun you could buy I mean, the other fun, the stuff you made up for yourself, well, that was plentiful and It never rained during the summer holidays either.
One of the songs we sang in Sunday School went like this:
‘Twelve men went to spy in Canaan, ten were bad two were good.
What did they see when they spied in Canaan, ten were bad two were good.
Some saw the giants big and tall, some saw the grapes in clusters fall
Some saw the Lord was in it all, ten were bad two were good.’
I had no idea what the song was really about or where it came from, and for that matter why we were singing it at all. All I knew was that anything with grapes, giants and spies in it must be OK, and it was. Now, some tender years later and still youthful, I would like you to consider with me what the twelve ‘agents’ were up to in Canaan. Incidentally the only spies I knew at that time was, Napoleon Solo, Illya Nickovitch Kuryakin and of course James Bond.
The ‘spies’ in our story today came to prominence because God had promised his people that he would lead them to a land that they could call home. It would be a land ‘flowing with milk and honey’. As the Israelites departed Egypt, their quest to find this land would take some time and they would get there, but not right away. There were some things that needed sorting out beforehand.
The twelve men, one from each of the twelve tribes, were sent out to survey the land of Canaan as a possible place to occupy and settle. After a while, the reports duly arrived and in the main, they were not good, according to the ten. The land itself was great but the towns were well protected and the people who lived there were certainly no pushovers. They were from a mysterious past and were bigger than big. When the ten spies reported this to the people the decision was made to move on. Caleb and Joshua were outvoted and so the wandering continued.
This story presents us with heroes and villains and many controversial issues. The land of Canaan was indeed ‘flowing with milk and honey’ but the land, the milk and the honey all belonged to someone else. Ultimately though, it all belonged to God and he could do with it whatever he wanted. He decided to give it to the Hebrews, that is, according to the Hebrews. The Canaanites however, in today’s ‘hackneyed’ terminology ‘had a problem with this’.
To ‘spiritualise’ this story as the song does, we are led to think of ten bad guys and two good ones. The ten didn’t want a fight even though God said the land was there for the taking. It was to be a present but they thought differently and so they became the villains. The two good guys, Joshua and Caleb, were OK about a fight as God was on their side and the land would soon be theirs. Where have you heard this kind of argument and reasoning before, I take it you are familiar with the argument?
I have heard countless times that religion is the major cause of wars in the world. I think this argument, perhaps with a bit of truth in it, is not quite true.
Two World Wars were fought in 1914-1918, and 1939-1945 in which many millions of people died. Before that, we had the Napoleonic Wars and many others. Not wars about religion at all but wars of conquest, resources and strategic global importance. Religion is in the mix, but not the main and only cause.
We know and accept that today’s passage is about God, faith, promises and his people and that we have much to learn from history. We know also that not everyone has the same point of view in politics, religion and a host of other considerations too. Today, therefore, we ‘need’ to consider again our attitudes and understanding of those of different faiths and culture and learn to live together in the land that God has given to us all. Earth.
Today I ask you to think/meditate on these things.
God bless you!



The Lord said to Moses, “Send some men to explore the land of Canaan, which I am giving to the Israelites. From each ancestral tribe send one of its leaders.”

So at the Lord’s command, Moses sent them out from the Desert of Paran. All of them were leaders of the Israelites. These are their names:

from the tribe of Reuben, Shammua son of Zakkur;

from the tribe of Simeon, Shaphat son of Hori;

from the tribe of Judah, Caleb son of Jephunneh;

from the tribe of Issachar, Igal son of Joseph;

from the tribe of Ephraim, Hoshea son of Nun;

from the tribe of Benjamin, Palti son of Raphu;

from the tribe of Zebulun, Gaddiel son of Sodi;

from the tribe of Manasseh (a tribe of Joseph), Gaddi son of Susi;

from the tribe of Dan, Ammiel son of Gemalli;

from the tribe of Asher, Sethur son of Michael;

from the tribe of Naphtali, Nahbi son of Vophsi;

from the tribe of Gad, Geuel son of Maki.

These are the names of the men Moses sent to explore the land. (Moses gave Hoshea son of Nun the name Joshua.)

When Moses sent them to explore Canaan, he said, “Go up through the Negev and on into the hill country. See what the land is like and whether the people who live there are strong or weak, few or many. What kind of land do they live in? Is it good or bad? What kind of towns do they live in? Are they unwalled or fortified? How is the soil? Is it fertile or poor? Are there trees in it or not? Do your best to bring back some of the fruit of the land.” (It was the season for the first ripe grapes.)

So they went up and explored the land from the Desert of Zin as far as Rehob, toward Lebo Hamath. They went up through the Negev and came to Hebron, where Ahiman, Sheshai and Talmai, the descendants of Anak, lived. (Hebron had been built seven years before Zoan in Egypt.)When they reached the Valley of Eshkol, they cut off a branch bearing a single cluster of grapes. Two of them carried it on a pole between them, along with some pomegranates and figs. That place was called the Valley of Eshkol because of the cluster of grapes the Israelites cut off there. At the end of forty days, they returned from exploring the land.

They came back to Moses and Aaron and the whole Israelite community at Kadesh in the Desert of Paran. There they reported to them and to the whole assembly and showed them the fruit of the land. They gave Moses this account: “We went into the land to which you sent us, and it does flow with milk and honey! Here is its fruit. But the people who live there are powerful, and the cities are fortified and very large. We even saw descendants of Anak there. The Amalekites live in the Negev; the Hittites, Jebusites and Amorites live in the hill country; and the Canaanites live near the sea and along the Jordan.”

Then Caleb silenced the people before Moses and said, “We should go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it.”

But the men who had gone up with him said, “We can’t attack those people; they are stronger than we are.”And they spread among the Israelites a bad report about the land they had explored. They said, “The land we explored devours those living in it. All the people we saw there are of great size. We saw the Nephilim there (the descendants of Anak come from the Nephilim). We seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes, and we looked the same to them.”


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