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Paralysis by Analysis

When Israel reached the Promised Land, Moses sent 12 spies in the land in obedience to the Lord. They were to bring back a report of the fruitfulness of the land as well as a useful intel to be used to devise a strategy for overthrowing the pagans in that land.

Remember, God had already promised this land to Abraham. He confirmed his covenant with Isaac and Jacob that all of the land of Canaan would belong to their descendants. He reaffirmed His promise to Moses at the burning bush in Exodus Chapter 3. God had just dramatically rescued approximately 1.2 million people, the entire nation of Israel, when He miraculously divided the Red Sea and drowned Pharaoh’s entire army.

Moses chose 12 chiefs. These were the leaders of the 12 tribes of Israel. These men were singled out as gifted leaders, likely chosen for their courage, intellect and judgment. No doubt each one had credentials. When given 40 days to assess the situation, I am sure they made the most of it. Analyzing, evaluating, calculating, estimating and contemplating every detail.

After all, wasn't that their assignment from the Lord? Wasn't it also their responsibility to lead the people and keep them safe? Weren't they also, as elected officials of the people, responsible to represent the people and to rule with their best interest in mind?

Upon returning from their 40 day assignment, 10 of the 12 spies rightly reported that Israel was outnumbered, outmanned and “like grasshoppers” before the giants of Canaan. Israel was not yet skilled at war and was mostly unarmed, untrained and unprepared for any large-scale conquest of this magnitude.

The actual analysis of the facts pointed to sure defeat. Humanly speaking these were insurmountable odds t

hat pointed to complete annihilation of Israel should they engage in war.

To be fair the analysis of the facts by the ten spies was accurate and true. Their recommendation to the people to “play it safe" was, humanly speaking, the only viable option.

There were two spies who saw things differently. Two spies believed God's promises that the land was theirs to take. Two spies still remembered the recent defeat of the entire army of Pharaoh where the men of Israel had only to watch as all those dead Egyptian soldiers washed up on the beach of the Red Sea.

Two spies had vision enough to see past the immediate obstacles to the sure victory promised from God.

Only two of the 12 spies lived to see those promises fulfilled. The other 10 spies died immediately of plague and unceremoniously were buried and were ultimately forgotten.

Paralysis by analysis is exactly what happened is happening in the pro-life movement. We see the "insurmountable odds”. The courts are against us. The politicians are ineffective. The finances are too limited to wage effective warfare. The direct engagement at the front line is “unsafe “. The disunity among pro-lifers is discouraging. The struggle for territory and donors between pro-life ministries is petty. All the while God has promised that "the gates of hell" will not withstand the onslaught of the church. All the while we know we are on God’s side when we defend life. All the while we know God owns the cattle on a thousand hills and will always fund his ministries. All the while we know the battle is the Lord's and that we ultimately win!

Yet like the 10 spies, we analyze, evaluate, calculate, estimate and contemplate. And like faithless spies we often conclude "we can't" or “we should not" or “we can't afford.” All the while babies are being slaughtered while we remain paralyzed by fear. May we instead be like Joshua and Caleb. May we have faith to trust God and take the land that has been promised to us. May we trust him for protection. May we trust him for strength to fight. May we trust him for provision. Where God guides he provides. May we see past the giants in front of us and see the giant God who has called us! May we not shrink back in fear but instead storm the gates with courage. As God charged Joshua, I believe He is charging us:

“Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened and do not be dismayed for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9


Dr. Matthew E. Phillips, M.D.

President of the Board

Medical Director

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