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by Wayne Blank
An often overlooked fact of Bible History is that the Israelites wandered in the desert for forty years not because the Wilderness Journey (see also Bible Places) took that long to physically complete, but as a punishment for those who refused to enter the Promised Land when they first had the chance to do so. They were placed in a "holding pattern" until all of the disobedient and cowardly ones of adult age had died off (Numbers 32:10-13).
Of the twelve scouts sent into the Promised Land to gather information prior to what would have been the Israelites' entry just a little more than two years after the Exodus (Numbers 10:11), only two of them, Joshua and Caleb, had the courage and faith to report that the people should go in and take the land that God was giving them:
"But Caleb quieted the people before Moses, and said, "Let us go up at once, and occupy it; for we are well able to overcome it."
Caleb, of the tribe of Judah (Numbers 13:6), was forty years old when he was sent to spy out the Promised Land with the others. Over four decades later, he received his reward:
"Then the people of Judah came to Joshua at Gilgal; and Caleb the son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite said to him, "You know what The Lord said to Moses the man of God in Kadesh-barnea concerning you and me. I was forty years old when Moses the servant of The Lord sent me from Kadesh-barnea to spy out the land; and I brought him word again as it was in my heart. But my brethren who went up with me made the heart of the people melt; yet I wholly followed The Lord my God. And Moses swore on that day, saying, 'Surely the land on which your foot has trodden shall be an inheritance for you and your children for ever, because you have wholly followed The Lord my God.'"
Fact Finder: What kind of people will be cast into the lake of fire?