“ ’The land we explored devours those living in it. All the people we saw are of great size. We seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes and we looked the same to them’ ” (Numbers 13:32-33)
Giants Tower; Grasshoppers Cower
By Patricia Knight
After four centuries living in servitude to the Egyptians, God chose Moses to lead the nation into the Promised Land, where they would be free to own and govern their own land rich in natural resources.
Egypt’s Pharaoh was vehemently opposed to the loss of an entire nation of slave labor. To convince Pharaoh, God targeted the Egyptians with ten ghastly plagues that dreadfully impacted their health and lifestyle. Pharaoh’s heart remained hardened until the ultimate plague, when God slaughtered all firstborn males, both men and beast. The Lord protected Israel from each plague, leading the entire nation out of Egypt during the night of Passover. In his anguish, Pharaoh finally let God’s people go. He could not compete with the power of God, who “was majestic in holiness, awesome in glory, working wonders” (Exodus 15:11).
About a million Israelites with droves of livestock marched across the desert until they reached an impasse at the Red Sea. There God divided the waters, driving two walls up each side, creating a path for the Israelites to walk through on the dry sea floor. Pharaoh, who had changed his mind about releasing his slave work force, followed close behind with his massive militia.
God threw the Egyptian army into confusion, causing the wheels to fall off their chariots to slow them during the chase. When the last Israelite crossed the sea, the Lord restored the two columns of water to the sea basin, swallowing the men, chariots, and horses, eliminating the entire Egyptian militia. “That day the Lord saved Israel from the Egyptians and Israel saw the Egyptians lying dead on the shore” (Exodus 14:30).
The Lord commanded His people to occupy the Promised Land, His generous gift of 300,000 acres. God had already surveyed the land and pronounced it good. Then He promised, “I will deliver the inhabitants of the land into your hand, and you will drive them out before you” (Exodus 23:31, KJV). God’s people refused to trust Him, and instead, requested a scouting party. For the team that would secretly research the Promised Land, one man was selected from each of the twelve tribes of Israel.
When the twelve spies returned from investigating the Promised Land, there was unanimous agreement concerning the cities, people, and produce available, but there no was consensus as to whether they could seize the land, even though God promised to prepare the way and fight for them to conquer pockets of resistance.
Ten of the twelve spies were fixated on the giants found living in Canaan. “ ’The land we explored devours those living in it. All the people we saw are of great size. We seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes and we looked the same to them’ ” (Numbers 13:32-33). The ten spies instilled fear among the general populace by exaggerating reports about their exploration, convinced they couldn’t defeat the inhabitants of the Promised Land.
Such frightening words of the faithless spies led to mourning by the entire community, which ultimately incited rebellion against God.
They forgot the miracles God performed previously in Egypt, doubting His power. The Israelites preferred death, expressed in their lament: “If only we had died in Egypt! Or in this desert! Why is the Lord bringing us to this land only to let us die by the sword?” (Numbers 14:12)
The ten fearful spies seduced the crowd with their personal opinions, espousing the view that it would be impossible to conquer the enemy. Their defeatist attitude arose from depending on their human strength alone. The people displayed fear that suffocates trust. We must never dispute how God will accomplish what He promises; He is always faithful to His Word.
Two other spies, Caleb and Joshua, were convinced that victory was possible by relying on God’s promises. They attempted to encourage the Israelites with positive reports, minimizing any temporary obstacles in the future, and trusting God to lead them to victory. “ ‘If the Lord is pleased with us, he will lead us into that land, a land flowing with milk and honey, and will give it to us. Only do not rebel against the Lord. And do not be afraid of the people of the land, because we will swallow them up. Their protection is gone, but the Lord is with us. Do not be afraid of them’ ” (Numbers 14:8-9).
As the Israelites soon learned, there is no future in saying no to God. The current generation was assigned to wander in circles in the desert. There they would die as God’s punishment for disobedience and unbelief. No one involved in the rebellion would enter the Promised Land. The ten spies were immediately struck down with a plague and died. Only Caleb and Joshua survived.
How could the presence and power of God vanish from the memory of the Israelite people so quickly after they witnessed the miracles God performed to save them from the Egyptians? The ten spies sabotaged their own people’s hopes and dreams about claiming the Promised Land. They believed tall men and fortified cities were a greater threat than God’s mighty wrath. What shallow thinking, to underestimate the power of God!
Do you have giants that loom large in your vision, deceiving you to think that God’s promises aren’t sufficient? Perhaps illness, family problems, or emotional obstacles dominate your life. God assures you that He is omnipotent and able to subjugate any problem posing as a giant.
Are we far too willing to opt out of a challenge God places in our path? Is it easier to admit a job is impossible with our limited knowledge or ability, than to ask Almighty God for help? The Lord is still parting the waters of improbability to accomplish the miraculous in our lives.
We have the tendency to reduce our faith to the diminutive size of a grasshopper, annoying those around us with the relentless chirping of doubts and complaints. Faith is silenced by the constant cacophony of grasshoppers. Let us focus on the belief that even a small amount of faith creates the occasion for a giant work of God . “With God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26).