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The Thirteenth Spy

Ezekiel 20 contains an interesting revelation about God’s plan for Israel and the Promised Land. The stage was set when a group of elders came to Ezekiel, asked of him that he would enquire of God for them (20:1). God tells Ezekiel he has NO interest in hearing their inquiry. He proceeds to tell Ezekiel WHY--for centuries up until the present they’ve cultivated a deaf ear toward him (20:3).  Then the history lesson begins. 

The Jews in Egyptian bondage were engulfed in the worship of Egyptian idols. The notion Israelites in bondage were all true Jehovah worshippers suffering under their Egyptian taskmasters is not an accurate one. When Moses led the Jews out of Egypt, many carried their Egyptian gods with them. The miraculous Red Sea crossing was insufficient to shake them loose from those gods. No sooner had Moses ascended Mount Sinai for six-weeks of one-on-one time with God that they broke out their gods, and, with Aaron’s help, fashioned a golden calf for worship. 

In 20:6, God shares this revelation: “In the day that I lifted up mine hand unto them, to bring them forth of the land of Egypt into a land THAT I HAD ESPIED FOR THEM, flowing with milk and honey, which is the glory of all lands.” The verb “espied” was an instructive play on words. For every one of those elders was no doubt familiar with the twelve spies Israel sent to ESPY the Promised Land. 

God himself was the FIRST of thirteen spies. His report to his people was: “You can TAKE the land because I have both SEEN it and have GIVEN it to you.” Two of the twelve spies—Joshua and Caleb—were men of faith. They KNEW there was nothing they could SEE from a spy mission that would cause them to question what God had SAID. The other ten did not share that conviction. It turns out what they SAW caused them to REBEL against what God had SAID. The rebellion resulted in a forty-year death march in the wilderness for an entire nation.

Joshua and Caleb were dot-connectors. They understood CONQUEST of the land would of necessity involve CONFLICTS, even with giants. So when God tells his elect they are “more than conquerors” (Romans 8:37), does that not imply they come out on the winning end of conflicts?  

The spiritual lesson for us: Whatever God has in mind for us regarding our FUTURE, whenever he sets the FUTURE before us as he did Israel, we can be sure he’s ALREADY BEEN THERE, having “espied” it for us.


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