“We came to the land to which you sent us. It flows with milk and honey, and this is its fruit. However, the people who dwell in the land are strong, and the cities are fortified and very large. And besides we saw the descendants of Anak there.” Numbers 13:27-28
“The land, which we passed through to spy it out, is an exceedingly good land. If the LORD delights in us, He will bring us into this land and give it to us, a land that flows with milk and honey. Only do not rebel against the LORD. And do not fear the people of the land, for they are bread for us. Their protection is removed from them, and the LORD is with us; do not fear them.” Numbers 14:7-9
Giants in the Promised Land! The children of Israel wandered in the desert for forty years because of their sin and rebellion. Now they were on the cusp of going into the land God promised their ancestors. The Israelites experienced God’s deliverance, protection, and provision from the parting of the Red Sea to manna in the wilderness and water pouring from rocks. They witnessed the destruction of their enemies; their sandals and clothing never wore out; their feet never swelled in forty years. They heard God thunder from the mountain top; they followed Him as a cloud by day and a fire by night. God told them He was giving them this land. He told them to send spies into the land, one from each tribe, to report on the land and its inhabitants. Twelve scouts, including Caleb and Joshua, brought back evidence of the abundant fruitfulness of this land as well as accurate reports of the people and cities.
All twelve saw the richness of the land and the goodness promised to them, and they all saw the strength of the people, the fortifications of their cities, and the giants living there. They returned with honest reports but differing recommendations. Ten scouts succumbed to terror and doubt. They saw only the difficulties, only the giants, and only their own limitations. They quickly forgot everything they experienced and knew about God in the panic of that reality. Joshua and Caleb also saw the difficulties, but they never lost sight of the promise and the Promise-Keeper. They knew their God; they trusted His Word and they depended on His power. They knew they had nothing to fear because God was in control. The other spies stirred up the people into a frenzy of fear. Joshua and Caleb reminded them that they were God’s treasured possession, and God would fight for them.
Sadly, I find myself reacting to difficulty and unwelcome news exactly like the ten spies and children of Israel did. I see the giants in my land and react with dismay. Wars and rumors of war; earthquakes, floods, tornados, and tsunamis; political machinations and untrustworthy news dissemination; broken and hurting families, violence in homes and violence in the streets; inflated prices at the gas pump and in the grocery store; plagues and pandemics, cancer, and heart failure; toddler tantrums, willful teenagers, aging parents; demanding jobs, no job; loneliness, depression, anger; overeating, over-drinking, food disorders. There are more giants in this land than I can name! And when they loom on the horizon or charge down the hills to thunder on my doorstep, it is easy to fall into despair and tremble in fear. I quickly forget God’s faithful guidance and protection. I lose sight of His power and might, and I crumble in an anxious heap of wilderness dust.
This is not where God wants me, and it is not how He wants me to respond. I know that, but how do I practically move from fear to faith, from gloom to grit, from trembling to trusting, from victim to victor? How can I be more like Caleb and Joshua in the face of my giants? Here are three things I have learned about giants from Joshua and Caleb:
- Giants are real, unavoidable and come in all sizes and shapes. The giants in our lives, the troubles, heartaches, and persecutions, illness, irritations, and pressures are all part of living in a fallen world. Pretending they do not exist does not make them go away. 1Peter 5:8 admonishes us, “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” We need to be calm and circumspect, cautious, and vigilant. We need to be careful about what we allow to influence us and our families and avoid those things that can easily entangle us. For example, one of the smaller but no less dangerous giants in my life is sugar. I have a sweet tooth. Having cookies and desserts in my home is an entanglement for me, and I need to simply not go down that aisle in the grocery store!
- Giants are powerless. God sees the giants in our lives, in our homes, in our cities and in this world. He is not surprised by them or by our reaction to them, but He calls us to trust Him to deal with them. Ten spies paralyzed by fear, saw only the size and magnitude of the giants, and their fear paralyzed a nation. Joshua and Caleb sought the LORD and knew it was His power and might who would fight for them. The giants were powerless against their Almighty God. Their faith encouraged the Israelites and propelled them forward to victory. We need to seek God and walk by faith, not by sight, trusting Him with our plaguing giants. “Those who know Your name trust in You, for You, LORD, have never forsaken those who seek You.” Psalm 9:10
- Giants are unprotected. The giants in the land were nothing more than prey for the children of Israel, “bread” for their consumption. They had no protection against the armies of God. Our giants are likewise unprotected and cannot stand against God. As we put on the full armor of God each day (Ephesians 6:11), we can stand firm in the face of our giants. God is sovereign and totally in control of every giant we face. Jesus promises, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” John 16:33. Eternal victory is our heritage as believers in Jesus Christ.
Father, thank You for the assurance that You will bring us safely through this world inhabited by giants into the Promised Land of eternity with You. Thank You for the truth that someday even the fiercest giant will bow his knee and confess that You are Lord. Help us to abide in You, Jesus; to know Your Word, the very truth that sets us free from giants; and to walk by faith with Your full armor securely in place. Let us be like Caleb and Joshua, and trust fully in Your power and might.
- What giants have intimidated you or paralyzed you, keeping you from claiming the blessings God has for you?
- How is God calling you to be like Joshua and Caleb, standing firm in faith even when others are against you?
- What influences are you listening to and how do those influences impact your walk of faith?