Numbers 13:32 – “And they brought up an evil report of the land which they had searched unto the children of Israel, saying, The land, through which we have gone to search it, is a land that eateth up the inhabitants thereof; and all the people that we saw in it are men of a great stature.”
The Lord directed Moses to send men into the land of Canaan to search it out. Their job description was not to decide about whether to occupy the land or not. God had given them the land and commanded them to possess it. They were simply to spy out the land and bring a report back to the others.
When this group of scouts returned, they reported to Moses and the congregation of Israel. Ten of the spies spoke highly of the fruit that the land offered but saw the difficulties involved as being insurmountable. Here are some of their comments: “We be not able to go up against the people; for they are stronger than we” (Num 13:31). “…we were in our own sight as grasshoppers, and so we were in their sight” (v 33). Two of the scouts, Joshua and Caleb, had a different view of the possibilities. They said, “Let us go up at once, and possess it; for we are well able to overcome it” (v 30). The tension must have been great in the camp. There was confusion in the camp. Some spoke of replacing Moses and returning to Egypt, all because of “an evil report.”
From this familiar passage, we are reminded of the power of “an evil report.” It is important to state that it was God that called the report “evil.” It was more than simply a difference of opinion. The report was “evil.” What made it “evil?” It was “evil” because it was a vote against the will of God. God had ordered this occupation of Canaan. These negative spies were influencing their fellow Israelites to disobey God.
We should never underestimate the power of an “evil report.” Their report, based on lies, had greater influence than the report that was based on truth. It was “evil” because it was a report that was without faith. It was also “evil” because it would eventually result in the entire nation postponing the possession of the Promise Land for forty years. We need to recognize and reject evil reports.