Moses sent twelve men of Israel, one from each tribe, to explore the land of Canaan.
Only two of the explorers, Joshua and Caleb, came back with a good report (see Numbers 14:6-9).
They said, “The land is good, and God will lead us into it.”
They trusted God to give Israel the land he had promised. The other ten explorers were gripped with fear because the people of the land seemed too big.
They said, “We seemed like grasshoppers to ourselves and to them.”
When fear takes over, our perspectives on many things can get distorted.
For example, our view of God may become skewed.
God may seem small in light of our problems, or God’s Word may seem empty in the face of our difficulties.
Even our view of ourselves may get cloudy when our faith is weak.
Israel said they felt like grasshoppers when in fact they were the chosen and cherished people of God.
It’s important to remember who we are in Christ.
We are the body of Christ. We are sons and daughters of the King.
We are called “a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession” (1 Peter 2:9).
When fear creeps in, remember the God you serve.
Remember who you are and whose you are.
Then step forward in faith, leaning on God’s promises and power.
Numbers 13:30-33Amplified Bible
30 Then Caleb quieted the people before Moses, and said, “Let us go up at once and take possession of it; for we will certainly conquer it.” 31 But the men who had gone up with him said, “We are not able to go up against the people [of Canaan], for they are too strong for us.” 32 So they gave the Israelites a bad report about the land which they had spied out, saying, “The land through which we went, in spying it out, is a land that devours its inhabitants. And all of the people that we saw in it are men of great stature. 33 There we saw the Nephilim (the sons of Anak are part of the Nephilim); and we were like grasshoppers in our own sight, and so we were in their sight.”
The Word of God for the Children of God. Gloria! In Excelsis Deo! Alleluia! Amen.
In Numbers 13, the Israelites came near to the Promised Land.
God instructed Moses to send 12 men to spy out the land He was giving them.
They passed through a fertile land filled with grape clusters so large it took two men to carry one bunch. They walked through an area blessed with sweeping grasslands, abundant fresh water, and almost perfect weather.
But it was also a land inhabited by strong, giant people. And 10 of the 12 men couldn’t see past that perceived threat. They had an unrealistic view of the problem, thinking they were so large that they were impossible to overcome.
Many people have called this way of looking at life as “grasshopper thinking.” It is a manner of thinking which leaves God completely out of the equation.
Such Grasshopper thinking has prevented many people, down through the ages, from expanding their perceptions of selves, becoming everything God intended them to become and has robbed them of things He intended for them to enjoy.
It keeps believers from ever even attempting any great thing for God, defeating and preventing them from faithfully bringing the Kingdom of God unto others.
Grasshopper thinking is leaving God out of His plan for our lives. When God shows me His plan for the next step in my life, it is not my job to begin to evaluate His plan. It is my job simply to trust Him, believe that He will provide everything necessary for it to succeed, and then to start walking forth into it.
Caleb, the spy from the tribe of Judah, encouraged Israel to go forth anyway and possess the land (Numbers 13:30). But ten of the other spies threw cold water on that suggestion, emphasizing the strength of the adversaries, considering themselves as grasshoppers in comparison (Numbers 13:31-33).
Israel went the way of the ten spies; they went so far as to express the desire to return to Egypt and slavery (Numbers 14:1-4).
Caleb, along with Joshua, the spy from Ephraim, begged Israel to reconsider, affirming the goodness of the land and that YHWH would give it to them, confident that if YHWH was with them, it would not matter how strong their foes might seem (Numbers 14:5-9).
But it was too late; Israelites sought to stone Joshua and Caleb (Numbers 14:10).
Before we unnecessarily Judge, let us consider Israel’s perspective. The reality “on the ground” is never in doubt: the ten spies recognize that the land is of excellent quality with great produce; Caleb and Joshua recognize that the inhabitants of the land are numerous, strong, living in well-fortified cities.
The Israelites have just left slavery in Egypt; they did not have the resources and strength among themselves to overcome their enemies’ advantages.
They, as with the ten spies, assess the situation as it looks on the ground; their response is entirely natural according to such a perspective.
If it is their strength versus their opponents’ strength, they will die in battle.
Such thinking and reasoning seem to be quite realistic in that historical context.
And then there was the faith motivating Caleb and Joshua.
If all Israel could rely on was its own resources and strength, then Caleb and Joshua would agree that any invasion was a fool’s errand.
But Caleb and Joshua remembered that YHWH had just redeemed them from Egyptian slavery, from the very Egypt which dominated Canaan and boasted the strongest empire of the day.
If YHWH could rescue Israel from Egypt, then YHWH could dispossess the strong Canaanite nations from before Israel (Numbers 14:9).
No, Israel would not obtain Canaan because of their own abilities.
They could only obtain it if they trusted in YHWH.
But Israel was not trusting in YHWH. They were rebelling against Him!
He promised He would bring them into the land flowing with Milk and Honey.
However, instead all they wanted to go back to Egypt, to give up on YHWH’s mission halfway through (Exodus 3:7-9, Numbers 14:1-4).
To return to Egypt would be to forsake YHWH and everything which He had done for Israel.
They even wished they had died in Egypt or the wilderness; such is how little they trusted in YHWH or thought of the efficacy of His power in this situation.
Rejoice in God’s Power
Have you heard the story by Max Lucado about a man who prayed that God would show his power and collapse a wall like that of Jericho (Joshua 6) and stop a storm the way he did in Galilee (Luke 8:22-25)?
God answered the man by bringing down a wall–not of brick, but of sin.
And he stilled a storm–not of a sea, but of a soul.
Tragically, because the man was looking for the wrong things, he complained that God had done nothing.
He asked God, “Have you lost your power?”
And God answered, “Have you lost your hearing?”
Sometimes we wonder if God has lost power in these 2022 times and seasons.
We wonder if God really is in max control in these 2022 times and seasons.
Isaiah 40:21-22Amplified Bible
Do you [who worship idols] not know? Have you not heard?
Has it not been told to you from the beginning?
Have you not understood from the foundations of the earth [the omnipotence of God and the stupidity of bowing to idols]?
It is He who sits above the circle of the earth,
And its inhabitants are like grasshoppers.
[It is He] who stretches out the heavens like a veil
And spreads them out like a tent to dwell in.
According to Isaiah 40:21-22, God has not lost so much as one ounce of his power, but we all have diminished listening skills and have lost our hearing and our ability to comprehend the spoken word has been sacrificed to “itchy ears.”
“Do you not know? Have you not heard? … He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth, and its people are like grasshoppers… The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth.”
Still, we look at the verses from Isaiah and say to ourselves – those words are two thousand eight hundred years old, and these are New Testament times.
It is the year of our Lord and Savior 2022 …. The context is radically different.
To this day there is a place for assessment of the situation “on the ground.”
In general, there is consensus about the situation of the faith “on the ground.”
Its influence, however strong it may have been in the past, seems to be waning.
Church membership, ministry, mission and participation is definitely declining.
More and more people are just as likely to identify as “spiritual, not religious.”
Strong secular and spiritual forces attempt to subvert the faith and marginalize those who proclaim it.
Following Jesus seems to be a quaint relic of the past, a historical legacy many feels are better to discard.
Likewise, there is general agreement that by our own resources and strength it will prove nearly impossible for the church to turn the tide on these trends.
“Realistically” we have definite reasons for much lamentation and mourning.
Brothers, Sisters, For the whole of the Body of Christ, God’s Church in God’s ever more complex Neighborhood, there are many Calebs and Joshua’s and so many more than those “10 spies” who have forceful opinions counter to theirs.
In the face of such enormous “giants” “Sober assessments” recognize the seeming futility of our endeavors. “On the ground,” it would seem that we should make sure to ask the first person to enter to turn on all of the lights and we should also make sure to ask the last person to leave to turn off the lights.
Yet such assessments, however “realistic” or “sober” they seem to be, do not take into complete account the existence of God and all He has done for us.
They do not take into complete account that “realistically” Christianity should never have existed, and even if it had been started, by all “realistic” scenarios would have died out a long time ago if there was not the infinite power of God.
Jesus has won the victory; Jesus has overcome the world (John 16:31-33).
The forces of darkness in this world are arrayed far and wide, far as the east is from the west, north from south against us and are strong (Ephesians 6:12).
Nevertheless, He who is in us is greater than he who is in the world (1 John 4:4).
Many Christians have fallen into the trap of cynicism and pessimism dressed up as being, or needing to be more “politically, culturally correct” “honest” or “realistic” about the manifold problems facing Christianity and the church.
We do well to remember the spies and Israel were the people of God, and they were being quite “realistic” and “honest” about the situations they were facing.
They “made their assessment.” Yet God punished that generation for rebelling against Him; they ironically got their wish, for they all but Caleb and Joshua would die in the wilderness and would not inherit the land (Numbers 14:10-35).
The ten spies died by plague (Numbers 14:36-37).
It would be the next generation who would trust in YHWH and obtain the promised land, and Caleb and Joshua would lead them to victory (Joshua 1:1-24:33).
We must remember this because what the Israelites thought was “honesty” and “realism” betrayed a lack of faith and rebelliousness (1 Corinthians 10:1-12)!
YHWH had already proven Himself by delivering them from Egyptian slavery and providing for them to that moment.
Likewise, God has proven Himself to us through the life, death, resurrection, and lordship of Jesus His Son (Romans 1:4, Romans 5:6-11, 8:17-25).
He is able to do more than we can ask or think (Ephesians 3:20-21).
The only reason we have ever had the opportunity to hear the Gospel ourselves is on account of His great power working through successive generations of His servants (Hebrews 12:1) and His Son Jesus, the Author and finisher of our faith who for the joy set before Him; endured the cross; despising all of the shame and is NOW set down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:2)
Praise God from whom all blessings flow because if it were only ever based on the resources and strength of the faithful the message would not get very far!
The world gives many reasons for cynicism, despair, doubt, and pessimism.
It always has; and it always will. Christians are called to put their trust in God, recognizing the victory comes through Jesus even in difficult circumstances, and the ways of the world are folly to God (1 Corinthians 1:19-25, 1 Peter 1:3-9).
The decision is up to us.
It always was, is and forever shall be ….
The Body of Christ, the Church in God’s ever more complex Neighborhood …
Are we going to so (too) easily surrender to our version, our vision, of our so called allegedly “correct” “honest” “realistic” “Grasshopper” assessment and be driven far and wide to cynicism and despair and division as the ten spies and Israel, proving to have more faith in our perception and the ways of the world than in our own Creator and Redeemer, and be judged to be in “max” rebellion?
Or return to the Word of God to find our God’s answers to our souls “wisdom?”
Psalm 25Amplified Bible
Prayer for Protection, Guidance and Pardon.
A Psalm of David.
25 To You, O Lord, I lift up my soul.
O my God, in You I [have unwavering] trust [and I rely on You with steadfast confidence],
Do not let me be ashamed or my hope in You be disappointed;
Do not let my enemies triumph over me.
Indeed, none of those who [expectantly] wait for You will be ashamed;
Those who turn away from what is right and deal treacherously without cause will be ashamed (humiliated, embarrassed).
Let me know Your ways, O Lord;
Teach me Your paths.
Guide me in Your truth and teach me,
For You are the God of my salvation;
For You [and only You] I wait [expectantly] all the day long.
Remember, O Lord, Your [tender] compassion and Your loving kindnesses,
For they have been from of old.
Do not remember the sins of my youth or my transgressions;
According to Your lovingkindness remember me,
For Your goodness’ sake, O Lord.
Good and upright is the Lord;
Therefore, He instructs sinners in the way.
He leads the humble in justice,
And He teaches the humble His way.
All the paths of the Lord are lovingkindness and goodness and truth and faithfulness
To those who keep His covenant and His testimonies.
For Your name’s sake, O Lord,
Pardon my wickedness and my guilt, for they are great.
Who is the man who fears the Lord [with awe-inspired reverence and worships Him with submissive wonder]?
He will teach him [through His word] in the way he should choose.
His soul will dwell in prosperity and goodness,
And his descendants will inherit the land.
The secret [of the wise counsel] of the Lord is for those who fear Him,
And He will let them know His covenant and reveal to them [through His word] its [deep, inner] meaning.
My eyes are continually toward the Lord,
For He will bring my feet out of the net.
Turn to me [Lord] and be gracious to me,
For I am alone and afflicted.
The troubles of my heart are multiplied;
Bring me out of my distresses.
Look upon my affliction and my trouble,
And forgive all my sins.
Look upon my enemies, for they are many;
They hate me with cruel and violent hatred.
Guard my soul and rescue me;
Do not let me be ashamed or disappointed,
For I have taken refuge in You.
Let integrity and uprightness protect me,
For I wait [expectantly] for You.
O God, redeem Israel,
Out of all his troubles.
Or will we prove willing to put our maximum measure of trust in God in Christ, aware of the long odds and impossibility of our mission in worldly terms, but be ever mindful of God’s strength and faithfulness, and to put our maximum hope in God and His strength, as Caleb and Joshua did? May we maintain faith and hope and not give in to cynicism and despair and obtain the victory in Jesus!
In the name of God, the Father and God the Son and God the Holy Spirit,
Let us Pray,
Heavenly Father, there are days—even long stretches, when people gain more influence over our hearts than they deserve. As Moses wrote in one of today’s passages. some people can make us feel like grasshoppers in the presence of giants. When this happens, any of a number of broken relational styles results.
When people seem bigger than you, they impact how we see ourselves and spend our days, and how we sleep, eat, and stress.
Through the truth and grace of the gospel, help us take back the power we’ve given mere people to shape, shame, or shut us down.
No one deserves that much sway.
If we’re going to feel “grasshopper-sized” anywhere in life, it should only be before you; for you are God, and people are not.
The good news is, in Christ, we are your “beloved grasshoppers”—safe, not threatened; cared for, not used; held, not harmed. (Matthew 6:28)
Indeed, Father, free us from looking to anybody to fill us up or “complete us”; or functionally to replace You.
Whether it’s our spouse or children, parents or friends, employer or employees—mere men make lousy idols, wannabe gods, and salvation-less saviors.
And free us from patterns of unforgiveness, resentment, and bitterness.
When fear of man morphs into wishing others harm, dreaming of their demise, or calling down fire, or vast darkening plagues of Locusts, they win, we all lose.
Bitterness defiles, envy rots, and revenge belongs to you.
Father, you’ve placed a Jesus-shaped void in our hearts only Jesus can fill. Keep us restless until we rest in him; peace-less, until he is our peace; and longing, until he is our life. So very Amen we pray, in his glorious and grace-full name.
All Glory be unto God, the Father and God the Son and God the Holy Spirit!