A stunning event occurred in the scripture when Moses sent twelve spies on a mission to explore Canaan, described in Numbers 13. After they return, ten of the twelve saw only immense problems involved in trying to conquer the promised land, to the point that they were debilitated from going ahead.
“We are not able to go up against the people; for they are stronger than us.” So they brought to the people of Israel an evil report of the land which they had spied out, saying, “The land, which we have gone to spy out, is a land that devours its inhabitants; and all the people that we saw in it are men of great stature. And there we saw the Nephilim (the sons of Anak, who come from the Nephilim); and we seemed to ourselves like grasshoppers, and so we seemed to them.” (Num 13:31-33 RSV)
The spies foresaw only disaster if Israel invaded Canaan. What’s impinging is that God had already assured them they would be victorious. When God had first spoken to Moses about sending out the spies, God said, “Send men to spy out the land of Canaan, which I give to the people of Israel” (Num 13:2). Don’t forget the purpose of the spying mission wasn’t to determine if they could be successful, but to investigate the logistics of the military movement.
Yet some of the spies had such prolific imaginations that they magnified the challenges, to the point of convincing themselves that God couldn’t possibly give them success. One of the factors that most frightened the spies was the physical size of the Canaanite men. They saw them as giants.
It’s true that the people of Canaan were indeed bigger than the Israelites; the spies didn’t conceptualize this perception. But they totally misunderstood the implications. They assumed that the men of Canaan would view them as cinch. “And we seemed to ourselves like grasshoppers, and so we seemed to them.” This is due to the fact that they were smaller in stature and humanly speaking they were no match. God doesn’t work with common sense for his foolishness is wiser than the wisdom of men. Don’t forget David faced similar incident with Goliath and what did he do? He faced Goliath in the name of the Lord of hosts and the rest is history. As believers, we are expected to walk by Faith in whom we believe in and not by sight.
The evidence indicates just the opposite. Rahab the Canaanite harlot summed it up to the spies on a later mission: “I know that the LORD has given you the land, and that the fear of you has fallen upon us, and that all the inhabitants of the land melt away before you. For we have heard how the LORD dried up the water of the Red Sea before you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to the two kings of the Amorites that were beyond the Jordan. And as soon as we heard it, our hearts melted, and there was no courage left in any man, because of you; for the LORD your God is he who is God in heaven above and on earth beneath.” (Josh 2:9-11)
Among the twelve spies on this first mission, only two–Joshua and Caleb–were able to see the challenge from God’s perspective. “Do not be afraid of the people of the land,” they declared, “because we will devour them; their protection is gone, but the LORD is with us; do not fear them” (Num 14:9). The rest saw only doom. Through their powerful mental images, they created problems that did not exist. And these problems, however imaginary, were fully effective in immobilizing them even in the face of God’s absolute promise of victory.
Another surprising thing about this incident is that the spies were the leaders of Israel’s twelve tribes. The ten who brought the gloomy majority report were among the most intelligent, spiritually knowledgeable individuals in the nation. This suggests that we will not necessarily avoid the tendency to catastrophize simply because we are well educated, or have been a Christian for many years.
It’s still human nature for us to fall into this pattern. A day doesn’t go by in our lives that we don’t confront challenges or problems, the ones that Jesus Christ wants us to face prayerfully and seriously. But Satan will strive to make us live in a world of illusion. He will, if he can, incite us to paint worst-case scenarios in our mind, and to dwell on them to the point that we believe wholeheartedly they’ll manifest.
Rather we should learn to view God’s grace dynamically. John 1:16 promises that Christ gives “grace upon grace” to us as Christians. Which literally means “grace following grace,” or fresh grace every split second of our existence. Most times, our worries result in large part from trying to know how our tomorrow will be like, predict precisely how God might provide us grace to handle future problem. We can never foresee how he will do it, though, an attribute of his grace is that he gives it at the moment we need it and not before.
The promise of Scripture is simply that when we need God’s assistance he will provide it because he’s a very present help in trouble. Most times what we fear do not occur. But if it does, God will give us exactly the grace required for handling that challenge. We need to dwell on this remarkable promise instead of worrying ourselves with how God will do it.
Many thanks for your time. Until next post, be faithed and have a triumphant week ahead.