Journey Through The Scriptures

Ladders, Miracles and Enemies

Lesson 3: Turning Back in Fear at Kadesh

(Scripture to Read: Numbers 13:1–33)

After the Israelites left Egypt in the exodus, it only took them eleven days to reach Kadesh, an oasis in the Negev, or desert country, fifty miles southwest of Be’er Sheva. The nation was on the doorstep of the Promised Land, so Moses sent twelve spies to search out the land and bring back their report. These men brought back the wonderful news that the land flowed “with milk and honey!” The spies also had one piece of discouraging news, however; there were large cities and fortified towns all throughout the land.

Joshua and Caleb rebuked their ten fellow spies and assured the people that Israel could defeat the Canaanites. But human fear took the place of trust in God. The people rejected Joshua and Caleb, and grumbled against Moses. God struck down the unfaithful spies (Numbers 14:37), so the people decided it was time to act, even without Moses or the Ark of the Covenant (14:44-45), but they were defeated. Israel turned back at Kadesh, and it was there that Moses later disobeyed God (Numbers 20:1-13). It would be many years before Israel inhabited Canaan.


Study Questions

  1. According to Numbers 13:27, what kind of land did the spies discover in Canaan?
  2. Why would the Israelites not trust their leaders and the Lord after the miracles they had already seen?
  3. Why were the people defeated when they finally decided to invade Canaan on their own?
  4. Why did God not allow Israel to take the Promised Land for another forty years?

Something to Think About

Our studies this month may be centered on geographical locations, but we are learning that each site holds important lessons of faith and life for us. Among other things, Israel’s experience at Kadesh teaches us that trying to do things in our own wisdom and strength is no substitute for believing and obeying God, no matter what the obstacles or even the apparent “opportunities.”