The Israelites were moving closer and closer to the land of Canaan. There must have been loads of excitement in the air. They were almost home. They could feel a sense of relief and accomplishment. God had provided for them, but they had complained. Soon they wouldn’t have much to complain about. They would root out the people who were living there, according to God’s command. He had told them to clean house and move in. So Moses sent out a reconnaisance team to scout the land. They wanted to know what the area looked like and get a feel for their new homeland.
Imagine being the twelve who were chosen to scout the land. Imagine walking the roads and byways. Watching the people. Were there many or few? Were they large or small? Were they well-fed or hungry? What was the lay of the land? This was going to be home, and the energy among the scouts must have been electric.
The scouts reported that the country was very bountiful. Lots of food was available. They even carried back a sampling from a massive grapevine. There was plenty of land for everyone to settle into. But the people who lived there. It was hard not to notice them. They seemed to be giants. And ten of the scouts were deathly afraid of them.
They said they saw giants. And they were afraid. They were afraid the people who were bigger than them were bigger than the God who had rescued them from the Egyptians. Didn’t they realize these giants were much smaller than the God who had parted the sea so they could walk right through it. Didn’t they realize these giants were much less powerful than the God who provided for all of their needs. Didn’t they realize that these giants would be handed over to them by God? They forgot all that God had done for them. They forgot all that God had promised them. So frozen in a moment of fear, they lied.
These ten men who were afraid of the giants were part of a group of twelve who had been sent out to spy on the neighboring country. God’s plan was that they would eventually conquer the land and take it back as their very own. You see. The land of Canaan was the birthplace of their ancestors who had moved to Egypt due to a famine over four hundred years earlier. And now that they had been freed from slavery in Egypt, God was giving their homeland back to them. It was a time for celebration and victory. But their fear and lack of faith turned one of the best times of their life into forty years of the worst. It was a forty year sentence for them. And for most, it was a death sentence.
After exploring the land for forty days, the men returned to Moses, Aaron, and the whole community of Israel at Kadesh in the wilderness of Paran. They reported to the whole community what they had seen and showed them the fruit they had taken from the land. This was their report to Moses: “We entered the land you sent us to explore, and it is indeed a bountiful country—a land flowing with milk and honey. Here is the kind of fruit it produces. But the people living there are powerful, and their towns are large and fortified. We even saw giants there, the descendants of Anak!” Numbers 13:25-28
So be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid and do not panic before them. For the Lord your God will personally go ahead of you. He will neither fail you nor abandon you. Deuteronomy 31:6
It should have been a rather uneventful journey. The twelve spies set out on a short trip to check out the land the Lord had given to them. Oh. They weren’t sure what they would find, but they were pleasantly surprised. The reconnaisance mission was deemed a success by all twelve until ten of the men spoke their fear and doubt out loud. Those doubtful words caused the people of Israel to go mad. How dare Moses lead them out of Egypt where all their needs, except for freedom, were fulfilled. How dare Moses lead them to a land, although flowing with milk and honey, that housed giants. How dare Moses expect them to move into the land to conquer it and remove the giants. How dare he. But really. What they were saying was….how dare God. How dare God expect them to fight to take back the land that was rightfully theirs. How dare God expect anything of them when he had promised to always be with them. When he had handpicked them out of all the people on the earth to be his chosen people. How dare he.
These twelve men weren’t the runts of the litter. They weren’t the weaklings. They were leaders in each of their tribes. They weren’t nobodies. They were respected men. And their faith fell weak when they ran into people bigger than themselves. Oh. When we run into problems that are bigger than us, we can’t just get scared and run the other way. That’s the moment we step into our faith and live it out loud. We don’t let fear hold us back from obeying God. We walk by faith.
We weren’t meant to slay giants on our own. God will handle the giants in our lives. Our job is to trust and obey him. For there’s no other way to live in Christ except in full surrender. Even when we’re faced with giants. Many times the only thing we see standing before us is the giant. We don’t see all the blessings and abundance that surrounds us. We see the one thing that could cause problems, and we focus only on it. We obsess and grumble. We moan and groan, because we have no idea how we’re going to overcome this one thing. And all around us lies the answer. God has already given us the land. We have to trust him to make the way of provision. In his timing and in his own way, God is faithful to provide the victory for us. But we must step out in faith. God will work through us.
But the fear and doubt put the joy and happiness of nation of Israel on a back burner. Because of their disobedience, God punished them by making them live forty years across the river from their promised homeland. Forty years. And everyone aged twenty and above would not be allowed to enter that new land. They would die before the nation moved forward. So for forty years, they saw every one of the adults live and die in their temporary homes. The promised freedom was just within reach. The fulfillment of God’s promise was just within sight. But because of their lack of trust and respect for God’s command, they paid a huge price.
Let’s not make that same mistake with our lives. Oh. The price for us may not be forty years of living in the wilderness. It may not be forty years of eating manna. We don’t know what we miss out on when we defy God. We just know that when we’re not living in submission to Him, we’re not living in God’s abundance. And abundance doesn’t necessarily mean health and wealth. It’s peace of mind. Joy and contentment. Fulfillment in the will of God. Let’s live abundantly in God’s grace and not our own fear and cowardice. Let’s take the land God has given us.
And those giants. They may not take the fight lying down. But with God on our side, nothing is impossible. Those giants will be cast aside with our hand in God’s. The fight may get dirty, but God will be the victor. Let’s never forget that. He will not fail us or abandon us. God never loses the battles he fights.