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Learning to Love Israel's God

My favorite Old Testament passage: Numbers 13-14

Preparing my annual baccalaureate sermon, I thrashed about for an appropriately generic, one-size-fits-all biblical text for those who don't believe the Bible. I seized upon Numbers 13-14, Moses' sending of the spies into Canaan to scout the Promised Land for the arriving Hebrews.

This class of graduates seemed tentative, unsteady, uncertain of their future in a downsized, devoluted American economy. This seemed the perfect text for a final sermon on their way out of Dear Old Duke.

The Hebrews stand at last on the threshold of the Promised Land. What lies ahead? Two groups of spies are sent out to reconnoiter. At the end of 40 days, they return with their respective reports for Moses and Aaron-a majority report and a minority report.

"The land is plentiful," said the minority, "but the cities are strongly fortified."

"Let's go take the place!" exclaims Caleb. (Caleb means "dog," take it as you will.)

The majority report is more pessimistic. "The people over there, why, they're like giants! ...

July/August
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