"We be not able to go up against the people; for they are stronger than we. And there we saw the giants, the sons of Anak, which come of the giants; and we were in our own sight as grasshoppers, and so we were in their sight."
Numbers 13: 31, 33
King James Version
"Grasshoppers and Giants"
"Crisis brings out the best in the best of us, and the worst in the worst of us."
How do I respond to the challenges I face each day?
"Our extremities are the Lord's opportunities."
C. H. Spurgeon
"Who is among you who reverently fears the Lord, who obeys the voice of His Servant, yet who walks in darkness and deep trouble and has no shining splendor in (her) heart? Let (her) rely on, trust in, and be confident in the name of the Lord, and let (her) lean upon and be supported by (her) God."
Isaiah 50: 10
Jim and I used to live close to the Pacific Ocean where the area was often covered by fog. We called, the months of May and June, "Lima Bean" months, because these beans were prolifically grown where we lived and the plants seemed to thrive in the early summer months when the fog was heaviest. After days of dark, damp, cold weather, we used to love to go to the desert where the sun shown over 90% of the time.
I was reminded of foggy days when I read our text for today found in Isaiah 50: 10. If you read this passage carefully, you'll note it wasn't written to those who did not believe in God. This text in Scripture was referring to individuals who "fervently feared the Lord." These folk believed in God and yet, they were walking in a fog. "Darkness and deep trouble" surrounded them and as Isaiah so correctly pointed out, when your life is covered by a fog of despair, there is absolutely "no shining splendor" in your heart. Does this text describe your life right at this moment? Are you blanketed in a fog-bank of gloom and despair? Are you facing so many problems you don't know how to preceed?
Well, let's take a look at Numbers 14, in our continuing study of this often overlooked book in Scripture. In review, God had brought His children out of Egypt; He had guided and protected them through the desert; and now, on the border of the Promised Land, God came to Moses with the promise of His continued guidance. In preparation for the journey into Canaan, Moses sent out spies, representatives from every tribe, to look over the land. He instructed these individuals to: "Get you up… and see the land, what it is; and the people that dwelleth therein, whether they be strong or weak, few or many; and what the land is that they dwell in, whether it be good or bad; and what cities they be that they dwell in, whether in tents, or in strongholds; And what the land is, whether it be fat or lean, whether there be wood therein or not. And be ye of good courage!"…. (Numbers 13: 17-20, K.J.V.) It was as though these tribe members were scouts – surveying their prospects and their new home. As a last message of encouragement, Moses said, "Be of good courage!" (Numbers 13: 20).
Now I want to ask you my favorite question, "Why?" Why would Moses' last words to the spies be the instruction, "Don't be afraid?" I'll tell you what I think and it comes from the end of Numbers 13. God and Moses knew what these spies were going to find. Canaan was a beautiful land filled with lush fruit and fertile valleys. But Canaan was also a land filled with big, strong warriors. And so, as the spies set out on their journey, Moses reminded them that no matter what they found or how daunting the task ahead, they were to be filled with courage because they had nothing to fear. Moses knew, with God on their side, they would conquer any enemy they came against. It didn't matter how big the enemy was or how fierce their threats. When you have God with you, you're invincible!
What happened? Numbers 13: 23 says the spies came to the brook of Eshcol and they cut down one cluster of grapes and it was so large it took two men to carry it! And they found pomegranates and figs. After 40 days they came back to where Israel was camped and "shewed them the fruit of the land and they said: 'We came unto the land whither thou sentest us, and surely it floweth with milk and honey; and this is the fruit of it'" (Numbers 13: 25, 27, K.J.V.).
So far so good! God had kept His word. The Promised Land was even better than imagined.
I don't know about you but after waiting and wandering from Egypt to Canaan, I would have said, "What's keeping us? Let's go to Canaan! Don't let anything hold us back." But instead, in Numbers 13: 28, we find one of the worst words used in this story and it is the word, "Nevertheless!" Oh, there's fabulous food in Canaan! Oh, God told the truth -- the land is as terrific as He said, "Nevertheless," and here's where the glass is half empty. The spies reported that the people in Canaan were strong and the cities were walled and worse yet, the children of Anak were there. In spite of a positive response by one spy named Caleb, the rest of the spies came back with "an evil report," because as Numbers 13: 33 says, "We saw the giants; and we were grasshoppers."
Have you ever seen a grasshopper next to a giant? Sounds like the grasshopper might get squished! But let me ask you, have you ever felt as though you were a grasshopper up against a giant – some horrific problem that looms so large you feel it will wipe you out?
Well, let me share with all of us grasshoppers, for haven't we all felt overwhelmed by some giant in our lives at one time or another. The answer to "taking down" the giants is in Numbers 14. But before we get to the solution regarding giants, I want to point out two key problems that make us afraid of the giants we encounter. In Numbers 13: 33 it states "We were in our own sight grasshoppers, and so we were in their sight."
The children of Israel feared the giants because when they looked at themselves, they felt small in front of their BIG problems. What about you? When you look at the challenges in front of you, do you seem unable to take on the problems because you're a grasshopper in your own eyes? Alphonsus Liguori got it right when he said, "He who trusts in himself is lost. He who trusts in God can do all things." And girls, this is absolutely true for God's daughters as well. Let's not make the same mistake as God's children on the border of Canaan, when they looked at themselves in the face of giants and felt like tiny little grasshoppers. But there's more, when they looked at the giants, they decided that these mighty people thought they were small, too! Seems, though, the giants forgot that God was with His children, that He, "delighted in them" and that He, God, would bring all the grasshoppers through the land filled with giants just fine! The only thing God's children could see were their problems and their inability to solve those problems because they were too tiny. Guess what? Our God has never, ever seen a problem that's too BIG for Him to solve. He never has run into a giant too BIG to take down in defeat. And our God has never seen a tiny grasshopper that's too little for Him to carry into the Promised Land.
"His love in times past
Forbids me to think
He'll leave me at last
In trouble to sink;
Each sweet Ebenezer
I have in review,
Confirms His good pleasure
To help me quite through."
"The Lord is my protector;
he is my strong fortress.
My God is my protection,
and with him I am safe.
He protects me like a shield;
he defends me and keeps me safe.
He is my saviour;
he protects me and saves me from violence;
I call to the Lord,
and he saves me from my enemies;
Praise the Lord!
You, Lord, are my light;
You dispel my darkness
O Lord, you protect me and save me
The Lord lives! Praise my defender!
Proclaim the greatness of the strong God who saves me!"
II Samuel 22
Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
(Available May 2009)