GIANTS AND GRASSHOPPERS
Mighty God, thank you that today is the day that you have made. I will rejoice and be glad in it, giving thanks to you. (Psalm 118:24)
Read NUMBERS 13
13 The Lord said to Moses, 2 “Send some men to explore the land of Canaan, which I am giving to the Israelites. From each ancestral tribe send one of its leaders.”
3 So at the Lord’s command Moses sent them out from the Desert of Paran. All of them were leaders of the Israelites. 4 These are their names:
from the tribe of Reuben, Shammua son of Zakkur;
5 from the tribe of Simeon, Shaphat son of Hori;
6 from the tribe of Judah, Caleb son of Jephunneh;
7 from the tribe of Issachar, Igal son of Joseph;
8 from the tribe of Ephraim, Hoshea son of Nun;
9 from the tribe of Benjamin, Palti son of Raphu;
10 from the tribe of Zebulun, Gaddiel son of Sodi;
11 from the tribe of Manasseh (a tribe of Joseph), Gaddi son of Susi;
12 from the tribe of Dan, Ammiel son of Gemalli;
13 from the tribe of Asher, Sethur son of Michael;
14 from the tribe of Naphtali, Nahbi son of Vophsi;
15 from the tribe of Gad, Geuel son of Maki.
16 These are the names of the men Moses sent to explore the land. (Moses gave Hoshea son of Nun the name Joshua.)
17 When Moses sent them to explore Canaan, he said, “Go up through the Negev and on into the hill country. 18 See what the land is like and whether the people who live there are strong or weak, few or many. 19 What kind of land do they live in? Is it good or bad? What kind of towns do they live in? Are they unwalled or fortified? 20 How is the soil? Is it fertile or poor? Are there trees in it or not? Do your best to bring back some of the fruit of the land.” (It was the season for the first ripe grapes.)
21 So they went up and explored the land from the Desert of Zin as far as Rehob, toward Lebo Hamath. 22 They went up through the Negev and came to Hebron, where Ahiman, Sheshai and Talmai, the descendants of Anak, lived. (Hebron had been built seven years before Zoan in Egypt.) 23 When they reached the Valley of Eshkol,[a] they cut off a branch bearing a single cluster of grapes. Two of them carried it on a pole between them, along with some pomegranates and figs. 24 That place was called the Valley of Eshkol because of the cluster of grapes the Israelites cut off there. 25 At the end of forty days they returned from exploring the land.
Report on the Exploration
26 They came back to Moses and Aaron and the whole Israelite community at Kadesh in the Desert of Paran. There they reported to them and to the whole assembly and showed them the fruit of the land. 27 They gave Moses this account: “We went into the land to which you sent us, and it does flow with milk and honey! Here is its fruit. 28 But the people who live there are powerful, and the cities are fortified and very large. We even saw descendants of Anak there. 29 The Amalekites live in the Negev; the Hittites, Jebusites and Amorites live in the hill country; and the Canaanites live near the sea and along the Jordan.”
30 Then Caleb silenced the people before Moses and said, “We should go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it.”
31 But the men who had gone up with him said, “We can’t attack those people; they are stronger than we are.” 32 And they spread among the Israelites a bad report about the land they had explored. They said, “The land we explored devours those living in it. All the people we saw there are of great size. 33 We saw the Nephilim there (the descendants of Anak come from the Nephilim). We seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes, and we looked the same to them.”
- Numbers 13:23 Eshkol means cluster; also in verse 24.
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
ReflectThe Israelite spies saw themselves as grasshoppers: small, weak, insignificant. How do you see yourself? How do you think God sees you? Close your eyes and ask God to help you see yourself as he does.
The spies’ journey through Canaan ended in Hebron (v 22), where Abraham had purchased a cave as the family tomb: he was buried there, alongside Sarah, Isaac and Jacob. The purchase of a tomb in a foreign land was a sign of Abraham’s faith in God’s promise, repeated here to his descendants (v 1). The spies’ visit, after all these centuries, was a sign of God’s faithfulness to that promise.
It looked good: the tomb, the cluster of grapes so big they named the area ‘Cluster Valley’ (v 24), the flowing milk and honey (v 27). Yet the spies began their report with an accusation (‘the land to which you sent us’) not an expression of faith (the land God is giving us, v 2). And it went from bad to worse: the spies showed no faith, even as God was proving himself faithful.
Despite the best efforts of Caleb (v 30) and Joshua (14:6–9), the bad report spread (v 32). The people focused on themselves – ‘we seemed like grasshoppers’ (v 33) – instead of God, who was faithfully fulfilling his promises.
Faith means trusting that God is bigger than our problems. The spies held their faith-binoculars the wrong way around: magnifying their problem and minimizing their God. Ask God to help you hold your faith-binoculars the right way around.
Yes Lord, I am one of those who “sees the glass half empty rather than half full.” I ask for a stronger faith, trusting in what you can accomplish in and through me.
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