This afternoon I was reading a familiar story from Numbers 14 and 15. It is part of a reading suggestions taken from Open My Eyes by Jentezen Franklin Media Ministries. Please, turn to your Bible if you have one or check online to benefit from context. A story is told of the 12 spies, all leaders in their own right who were asked to explore the land of Canaan while Israel was still in the desert. These leaders were given detailed strategic military Terms of Reference (TOR). They were to go and see what the land was like, to see whether the people were strong or weak, few or many. They were also asked to find out whether the land was good or bad; the kind of towns they lived in. They needed to assess whether they were unwalled or fortified. They also needed to look at the soil to ascertain whether the soil was fertile or poor, whether trees could grow on it or not. They were also instructed to bring back some fruit from the land because it was the season for ripe grapes.
The 12 spies received the same TOR and went out together to carry out their assignment. On their return they reported to Moses and Aaron and the Israelite Assembly that the land did indeed flow with milk and honey. The land was good!!! However, some of the leaders noted that the people were big and powerful, the cities were huge and fortified. The people in the land were not ordinary. (Probably because of the good food they ate:) they were giants. Two of the 12 spies silenced the negative leaders and encouraged the people not to get discouraged. They would definitely take possession of the land. The 10 spies would have nothing to do with these words of encouragement. They declared that they seemed like grasshoppers in their sight and looked the same to them. In the next chapter we see that the whole Israelite community is infected by the negativity of the 10 spies. They grumbled and complained and regreted why they ever left their life of slavery. They even decided to choose a new leader so that they could return to Egypt.
It is interesting that all the 12 leaders received the same TOR. They were exposed to similar sights and sounds. 2 of the leaders looked at the circumstances with hope, faith and courage. They remembered that they had been through tough circumstances in the past but had emerged victorious. On the other hand, 10 leaders were overwhelmed by what they saw. They forgot the victories that they had been in in the past. As a result, all the leaders were never able to live in the land of promise. Furthermore, all the Israelites apart from Joshua and Caleb (20 years and over who had participated in the census and seen all kinds of miracles) were subjected to wandering in the desert as shepherds for 40 long years where they died.
This narrative leaped out of the pages of my Bible today for some unexplainable reason. Although I am optimistic; I can be very negative and critical of myself and others unfortunately even after going through a number of battles and victories. I have been challenged through this story to be careful how I respond to what I see. I need to respond with eyes of faith. I should also be careful not to spread negativity in my own life, in my family, community, and organisation or wherever I may be placed. Leaders can affect the people they lead by how they see and what they say. What do you see? What are you saying in response to what you see? Happy 2020!