Joshua chapter fourteen is the fulfillment of what happens in Numbers 13-14. In Numbers thirteen the LORD tells Moses to send men to search out the land of Canaan which He gave unto the children of Israel. He was told to send a man from every tribe that was a ruler among them.
The men were chosen and sent to spy out the land. They were to find out all they could about the land and people who occupied the land. After forty days of searching the land, they returned home to give the report of their findings.
They came before the all the congregation and was giving their report to the people. As they were reporting the facts of their finding, Caleb (one who went to spy out the land) stilled the people before Moses and said “Let us go up at once and posses it; for we are well able to overcome it” (Numbers 13:30). Then the other men that went up with Caleb to spy out the land disagreed with him and said, “We be not able to go up against the people; for they are stronger than we” (Numbers 13:31). And they brought up an evil report of the land.
So what we have here are contradicting reports or two kinds of mindsets. I want to suggest to you that these two mindsets are that of Fear and Faith. The other men were focused on the facts and looking at all the reasons why it couldn’t be done. They had a list of their reasons: “there are men of great stature…there are giants in the land and we are grasshoppers in their sight.” This caused them to fear and caused the children of Israel to fear and doubt the promises of God.
I think we see this mindset of fear in the lives of many Christians today and definitely in missions. People are focus on the outward circumstances and limit what God can do. When we look at missions we see so many missionaries who operate out of fear, especially those in closed countries. They are so afraid of being kicked out of their country and therefore they don’t witness like they should, they don’t assemble together often, and they do not see the power of God on their lives and ministry. The same thing can apply to me and our ministry in China. I can look at all the outward circumstances and give my list of reasons and tell of all the giants in the land just like those who spied out the land did. China is a closed country, missionaries are not allowed in the country, church-planting is illegal, witnessing is illegal, gathering together for church services are illegal, I can be thrown out of the country, and on and on I go. Reports focused on the giants in the land will produce fear and that fear will spread to others and continue hindering the people of God from being used in great and mighty ways.