Part of my journey in getting treated for Lyme disease involved three cross-country moves. The second was to Texas. Maps told me it was big, but I had no idea HOW BIG.
Driving through Dallas took two hours. I got vertigo navigating five stacked layers of highway that looked and felt like a mammoth roller coaster. In short, I was terrified.
It reminds me of how ten of the twelve spies felt after scoping out Canaan (Numbers 13–14).
Everything there was BIG. Mountains, people, trees, fruit. Can you blame them for being overwhelmed?
Think about where they’d come from: Egypt (desert beyond the Nile delta). After two years of trekking, they reached “base camp” near Canaan’s border: an oasis in the Wilderness of Paran (rocky desert).
The spies spent forty days furtively walking 150 miles through mountains and lush vegetation—from Beersheba and Hebron in the south to Dan and Damascus in the north. They saw wonders beyond what they ever could have imagined. But, instead of being awestruck at God’s goodness in giving Israel the land, its BIGNESS terrified most of the spies.
There are seven takeaways for us in that story.
1. Fear is a natural response to the unknown.
The enemy plays fear to the hilt to keep you from becoming all that God wants you to be.
Some fears are warranted, but giving in to them instead of trusting God through them is not. Choose faith over fear.
2. Old habits die hard.
The Exodus is peppered with times the Israelites said, “Let’s go back to Egypt.” Despite their faltering faith, God continually came through for them. Yet the Israelites said the same thing again on Canaan’s doorstep.
The enemy wants you to settle for less than God’s best for you. The enemy makes you think the work is too hard, the obstacles too large.
3. Your greatest strength can be your greatest weakness.
God told Moses to send leaders from each tribe to spy out the land of Canaan. Leaders—people of influence who had exercised wisdom and discernment in dealings with their tribe. Yet they failed miserably in their assignment to evaluate Canaan (Numbers 13:1-4).
Don’t let past successes lead you to rely on yourself more than you rely on God.
4. If God promises you victory over something, take Him at His word—regardless of circumstances.
God had promised Canaan to the Israelites long before He told them to scope it out. Instead of being exuberant about that privileged preview, ten of the twelve spies saw only obstacles and opposition ahead. Circumstances overwhelmed them. They forgot God was their Overcomer.
Numbers 13 is an object lesson to stay grounded in God’s promises. Read them. Pray them back to Him. Apply them to your situation. Claim them, cling to them. Then rest in them, trusting Him for the outcome.
5. When opposition to God’s promises increases, you’re on the right path.
Ten spies were so convinced Canaan was unconquerable that they aroused a mob mentality in the Israelites—to unseat Moses and stone Joshua and Caleb for their dissenting opinion (Numbers 14:10).
The enemy does more than plant doubts and fears in your mind. He recruits others to reinforce those lies. Don’t listen to them. If their speech doesn’t align with God’s promise, don’t settle for “sure” or “comfortable.”
6. You don’t need to know how God will do it—only that He will do it.
God is infinitely more creative and awesome than you can imagine. Trust that His best includes mind-blowing plans for you.
7. God will give you strength for the task.
What He leads you to, He’ll see you through.
A final note: Wondering about the cluster of grapes that the spies brought back with them? Were they really as big as described in Numbers 13:23? Why include that detail?
Every word in the Bible has a reason for being there, so let’s find out.
The only grapes the Israelites would have been acquainted with were Egyptian grapes, which were very small. High average temperatures and limited rainfall presented major challenges for growing grapes in Egypt. On the other hand, Canaan had the right soil, plentiful rainfall, and long growing season to produce abundant grapes. Hebron was especially noted for its large grapes. One cluster could weigh twenty pounds or more. The spies must have scoped out Canaan mid-August through mid-September to bring back the fruits that they did—including early-harvest grapes. And the pole? That may have been needed to bear the grapes’ weight; but more importantly, it was a way to carry the grapes so they wouldn’t get bruised or bashed on the trek back to base camp.
Lord, only Joshua and Caleb had Your perspective on Your promises. They saw opportunities where others saw obstacles. Show us how to view life through Your eyes. Thank you for being our guiding light. Amen.
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