Standing On The Promises





  • Today is the second part of our series, Traveling Through Transitions. This series will help us to faithfully fulfill transitioning from one thing to another in a God-ward direction. This could take the form of a wide variety of things, from change in a relationship, to a location, to a job, or for a merger. Like I said last week, we need to take time to think and pray things through before we move out or move forward. Asking the right questions is helpful in the discerning process as well. Sometimes in our decision making, we are asking the wrong questions. Often, we ask, “What do I want?” Here is a question you would be better to ask, “What would be most honoring to God?” or “What choice would be most true to His word?”
  • Last week we followed the timeline from the opening pages of Genesis, following the clear instructions from God to “fill the earth and subdue it,” to our failings and faithlessness in our rebellion, to God’s clear direction and pursuing our path. 
  • Then scripture focuses on one family, and one man: Abram. We see how God calls them forward, and Abram is faithful to move forward, trusting himself to the promise of God. God is faithful to His promises. Be faithful in following Him.
  • This morning we are going to continue on in this story and then take a closer look at another significant transitional choice of the people of God. From this examination, you will learn some biblical principles to equip and empower you to make good, God-honoring choices that will keep you moving forward in His plan. 
  • The book of Genesis continues to follow the story of Abraham and his family. God renews His covenant to Abraham and gives him a child of the promise named Isaac; Isaac has twin sons named Esau and Jacob; Jacob has 12 sons, the youngest of which is sold into slavery, lands in Egypt, ends up saving his family from famine as they all move to Egypt. The family continues to grow and multiply and stay in Egypt for 400 years, becoming slaves to the Egyptians. The Egyptians start killing the newborn male children because they are afraid of the Israelites; the people cry out to God; God raises Moses to deliver them. God shows His power in the ten plagues; Pharaoh lets the people go, then chases after them to the Red Sea. God parts the water for His people and destroys the army of Egypt in the sea. 
  • God leads His people by a cloud by day and a fire by night. He gives them His commandments and Laws, they build a portable tabernacle, they defeat some kings, God continues to show His power as the people wrestle with God and with each other. He continues to lead them back to the land that He promised to give them when God made his promise to Abraham. 
  • Now they have arrived just outside of their destination of Canaan as we look to the account in Numbers 13 and learn from what is written for us. 


Num 13:1-3 ESV

The Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 2 “Send men to spy out the land of Canaan, which I am giving to the people of Israel. From each tribe of their fathers you shall send a man, every one a chief among them.” 3 So Moses sent them from the wilderness of Paran, according to the command of the Lord, all of them men who were heads of the people of Israel. 

  • Notice where God was bringing His people back to the land of Canaan. This should ring a bell; this is where God blessed Abraham and told Him that this land would be his and his descendants’ forever (see Gen. 13:14-18). 
  • This is a place that they were promised that they once occupied but had abandoned to become slaves in a foreign land. Has this ever happened to you . . . ? God calls us back to occupy His promise because “for God’s gifts and his call are irrevocable” (Rom 11:29 NIV). When God calls us forward, He is not calling us to something new, but to return and continue in something old. That God has promised and prepared according to His plan from the dawn of creation. It is gaining and regaining what has been promised. 
  • And in moving forward, God renews His promise by giving this to us and helping us in the process. He does not leave us or forsake us. But He does test us by giving us a choice to trust and follow His plan or to go our own way. 


Num 13:17-20 ESV

Moses sent them to spy out the land of Canaan and said to them, “Go up into the Negeb and go up into the hill country, 18 and see what the land is, and whether the people who dwell in it are strong or weak, whether they are few or many, 19 and whether the land that they dwell in is good or bad, and whether the cities that they dwell in are camps or strongholds, 20 and whether the land is rich or poor, and whether there are trees in it or not. Be of good courage and bring some of the fruit of the land.” Now the time was the season of the first ripe grapes.

  • Why did God tell them to “spy out the land” and not just to “go into the land?” He did this to test them because tests reveal what is true. When God tests us, He does so that who we are will be plainly seen. God’s primary goal for us is more about our formation than our destination. Who you are is way more important than where you are. 

Num 13:21-26 ESV

So they went up and spied out the land from the wilderness of Zin to Rehob, near Lebo-hamath. 22 They went up into the Negeb and came to Hebron. Ahiman, Sheshai, and Talmai, the descendants of Anak, were there. (Hebron was built seven years before Zoan in Egypt.) 23 And they came to the Valley of Eshcol and cut down from there a branch with a single cluster of grapes, and they carried it on a pole between two of them; they also brought some pomegranates and figs. 24 That place was called the Valley of Eshcol, because of the cluster that the people of Israel cut down from there.25 At the end of forty days they returned from spying out the land.

  • The time of testing was forty days. Forty days in the Bible is the time frame for testing. God tested the people by water in the days of Noah, God tested the people by His word at Mount Sinai, God tested the people by the wilderness of the promised land, God tested His Son by weakness in the NT. All of these were done for a period of 40 days. In times of transition, there always will be testing. So take your test and find your focus.  


Num 13:25-33 ESV

At the end of forty days they returned from spying out the land. 26 And they came to Moses and Aaron and to all the congregation of the people of Israel in the wilderness of Paran, at Kadesh. They brought back word to them and to all the congregation, and showed them the fruit of the land. 27 And they told him, “We came to the land to which you sent us. It flows with milk and honey, and this is its fruit. 28 However, the people who dwell in the land are strong, and the cities are fortified and very large. And besides, we saw the descendants of Anak there. 29 The Amalekites dwell in the land of the Negeb. The Hittites, the Jebusites, and the Amorites dwell in the hill country. And the Canaanites dwell by the sea, and along the Jordan.”

30 But Caleb quieted the people before Moses and said, “Let us go up at once and occupy it, for we are well able to overcome it.” 31 Then the men who had gone up with him said, “We are not able to go up against the people, for they are stronger than we are.” 32 So they brought to the people of Israel a bad report of the land that they had spied out, saying, “The land, through which we have gone to spy it out, is a land that devours its inhabitants, and all the people that we saw in it are of great height. 33 And there we saw the Nephilim (the sons of Anak, who come from the Nephilim), and we seemed to ourselves like grasshoppers, and so we seemed to them.”

  • You will find what you are looking for. If you are looking for promise, power, and the presence of God, you will find it. If you are looking for problems, pain, and the presence of enemies, you will find it. You have a choice. You can choose to magnify the promises or magnify the problems. What you choose to focus on reflects your heart. 
  • When they spied out the land, they only mentioned one city, Hebron. Do you know what was at Hebron? It was the burial ground for their ancestors (see Gen. 23). Do you know who was buried in that land? Abraham and his wife, Sarah, Isaac and his wife, Rebekah, Jacob and his wife, Leah and the 12 sons who were the heads of the tribes of Israel, minus Joseph who said before he died, to bring my bones back and bury me there (See Ex. 13:19, Josh. 24:32). When the 12 spies came to that sacred ground, they could have renewed their commitment to the promise that was given first to them and the promise that they claimed and died in. 
  • In times of testing and transition, your destiny and direction are determined by your focus. You must choose to either be apart of the trusting two or the terrified ten. 


  • After this report, people rebelled against the faithfulness of God. You can choose to follow the faithful to overcome and occupy, or you can choose to retreat and return to the slavery that you came from (Num. 14).
  • Because they chose to be faithless, God led them back into the wilderness and wiped out that entire generation, except Caleb and Joshua (who gave the good report), one year for every day of their testing. God then brought the next generation into the land, which they took and occupied. We will focus in on that “crossing over” next week as we choose to remember the faithfulness of the Lord as we continue to move forward in faith. 


  • God works on behalf of those who are faithful to Him. Therefore, be strong and courageous, trusting in the faithfulness of God. 
  • One final detail: after the people heard the judgment of God, they tried to go into the land on their own without the presence of God among them. They were soundly defeated (see Numbers 14:35-41). God has places He wants us to go and ground He wants us to occupy while we are still here. 
  • The NT focus on our eternal home and our eternal resting place. The only way we will enter that place is by faith in His promises and His presence in our life. We cannot gain heaven on our own, but only through our Faith in the Faithful One who made the way and is the way to the Father and our eternal home (see Hebrews chapter 3 & 4).
  • Pray