Democracy only takes you so far! Many times it actually holds you back. The problem that Moses created by choosing a representative from each tribe to explore the land was that when ten of them rejected the will of God, all their relatives ‘voted’ with them and that meant that most of the nation was in rebellion, for starters!
What had most frightened the ‘Ten’ was the discovery of giants in the land. This short phrase opens up a huge psychological and historical legacy that must have resided within the minds of the Israelites, which reached right back to pre-Flood times and is referenced in Genesis 6:1-4. The Nephilim, also mentioned in Numbers 13:33 were giants, and the Anakites were descended from them. There were dark, demonic overtones to this whole narrative too, and most of these Israelites would have wanted nothing to do with it. Much more on the huge subject of Giants can be found in a scholarly article by Zachary Garris in http://www.knowingscripture.com: https://1drv.ms/b/s!AqmXwc9NXEEFhsRXsr1sECdvIXu6mQ?e=MBhy9H and by reading some of the books by Michael S. Heiser.
And now, these Canaanite giants were confronting them in the Promised Land, occupying the very space that God had given them to occupy. Understandably, fear and panic swept through the camp, fuelled by the Ten’s lack of faith. “Better to die in the desert than there”, they grumbled. Despite Joshua and Caleb’s best efforts, no-one was listening to them. What no-one paid attention to was the comment by Caleb concerning the Canaanites that “their protection is gone” – literally their ‘cloud’ or ‘covering’. The Cloud of the Lord was with Israel to guide and protect them by his presence, but the gods of Canaan were banished and vanquished already. As we move throughout our land in the presence of God, we can be sure that the forces of darkness are being driven from our presence; the ‘Strong Man’s house can then be plundered, and its captives set free. For the Israelites and for us today, we always have a choice between fear and faith – and our actions always speak louder than our words!
Just as at the Golden Calf event, in his deep disappointment, God threatened to destroy the entire nation and it was only Moses’ intercession that stayed his hand of judgment. Again, God’s reputation as a promiser, redeemer and rescuer was at stake, and that was what Moses appealed to. So God forgave the nation, but still held the rebellious individuals and their families to account by giving them their wish – to die in the desert! God is often criticised for imposing his will on mankind, against man’s own will. However, a much more sinister thing occurs sometimes – when man gets his own way. Be careful what you wish for!
So only faithful Caleb and Joshua were spared to enter the Promised Land; over the next forty years the remainder were allowed to die a natural death until they had all gone and only their children remained of that rebellious generation. Sometimes when we rebel against the Holy Spirit, he simply allows us to go around and around in circles until we either repent and resume the journey or give up altogether. Far better to trust and obey Him the first time!