“We seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes, and we looked the same to them.”
– Numbers 13:33b
With these words, ten of the twelve spies gave their report to Moses and the Israelites on their scouting mission into the land of Canaan. You can just imagine the terror in their voices. After forty days spent exploring the land that the Lord had promised to give them, they were frightened, overwhelmed, and groping for whatever faith and courage they had possessed when they left Egypt.
In fact, they wanted to go back! Back to Egypt, the land of slavery, oppression, and false gods. The spies couched their fear in seemingly reasonable terms: the people were stronger than them; they were of a great size; they had fortified cities; the Israelites would fall by the sword and their wives and children would be taken as plunder. (Numbers 13:28-29, 31-33)
From a worldly standpoint, these are reasonable concerns. But while all of these things may have been true—the people were large, their cities were fortified, and they were stronger than the Israelites—at the end of the day, their fear in this moment was nothing more than unbelief in God’s promises. If we rewind the story a little bit we will see that even as the Lord told Moses to send the spies into Canaan, he promised (again) to give the land to them. (Numbers 13:1-2) All they had to do was obey.
Unfortunately after forty days in the land, for all but two of the spies (Joshua and Caleb), obedience was the farthest thing from their minds.
But the men who had gone up with him said, “We can’t attack those people; they are stronger than we are.” 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. 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 13:31-33
That last sentence is the one that really stands out to me. (In case you couldn’t already tell that from the title of this post.) “We seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes, and we looked the same to them.” Our own eyes. Their eyes. But notice whose perspective is not mentioned here: God’s.
The Israelites had been called to step out in faith and enter the Promised Land, trusting in God’s promise to give it to them, but they allowed their fear of the Canaanites to diminish them and to diminish their view of God’s power. It can seem so incomprehensible to us, knowing what the Israelites had witnessed: the parting of the Red Sea, the provision of mana, quail, and water in the desert, the glory of the Lord descending upon Mount Sinai, and the plagues and trials that came upon them when they disobeyed.
The Lord said to Moses, “How long will these people treat me with contempt? How long will they refuse to believe in me, in spite of all the miraculous signs I have performed among them?
– Numbers 14:11
And yet, as followers of Christ, we have an even more complete revelation of God’s power and Sovereignty through the sacrifice and resurrection of Jesus Christ and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, and we still struggle to obey in faith. We are called to be witnesses for the Gospel of Jesus Christ to all the nations, trusting in God’s promise to never leave us nor forsake us, and the firm hope that we have of eternal life. But have you ever been in a situation where you knew that you should speak up in obedience and felt too weak and insignificant to do so? Have you ever attempted to witness for Christ around a person or group of people who made you feel incredibly small? Have you ever tried to take a stand for what you believe before someone who reinforces every fear, doubt, and insecurity that you harbor inside?
In such situations, it is easy to lose focus. The Israelites quailed at the thought of entering Canaan because they had taken their focus off God, and fixed it on themselves and their problems. It became all about them. Suddenly it wasn’t God’s power that decided the result, it was theirs, and of course, they were not up to the challenge.
None of us are.
Faced with our fears and doubts, we can easily become as grasshoppers in our own eyes. No matter how true or reasonable our fears and doubts may seem, it is dangerous to focus on our insecurities and our weaknesses and STOP THERE without moving on to consider God’s power. To reflect on His greatness. To remember His promises to strengthen us to obey Him and bring Him glory.
So my question for all of us now is twofold:
- Are there things that the Lord is asking us to do today?
- And how can we step out in faith and obedience to the Lord without being frightened by the giants in the land?
For all believers, the answer to the first question—at least on a general level—is a yes. We are all called to deny ourselves daily, to walk in faith, and to be His witnesses throughout the earth. (And throughout the earth includes our neighborhoods, workplaces, schools, roads, and homes.)
And the answer to the second can be found in Hebrews 12:1-3.
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider Him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
– Hebrews 12: 1-3
So today, let us fix our eyes on Jesus and walk in obedience and faith. Let us focus on God’s perspective and promises and not be dismayed by our own fears, doubts, and insecurities. Forget the giants in the land. We serve a God who is greater.