Thursday in the Fourth Week of Lent

Numbers 13:1-33

Facing the Giants

The place was Kadesh-Barnea.  The children of Israel had journeyed there in stages from Mount Sinai.  Here, Moses sent out twelve spies to survey the land – the Promised Land – the land God swore to their fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.  This was their destination; this was their place of ultimate rest from the nomadic life they had adopted since their emancipation.  The Promised Land, called at that time the land of Canaan, would mark their journey’s end.  The goal was just in reach.

And what a land it was, “flowing with milk and honey,” the report came back.  But there was one problem: It was occupied, and the current tenants were not at all disposed to eviction.  The Israelites knew all along that the inhabitants of the land would not leave willingly but would have to be driven out.  Moreover, the Nephilim inhabited the land, also known as the “sons of Anak.”  These are the monsters of the Bible, the giants who are mentioned in Genesis 6:4 as the men of renown of olden times.  The children of Israel were simply no match for these among whom they seemed as “grasshoppers.”  Or at least that was the report of ten of the spies.  Indeed, fear gripped these ten so much that they changed their earlier report, publishing among the people instead that the land “devours its inhabitants.”

So, as we will read in tomorrow’s lesson, they balked right at the doorstep.  The giants were just too big.  We can apply this account to life’s challenges and how we need to meet our giants and refuse to back down.  People often compare these giants to contests or to goals they would like to achieve in their own lives.  I’m not opposed to that, but I think it’s a little shallow.  The greater giants are the temptations to sin we face in our own lives, the trials that bring us to our knees.  It’s that temptation to which we continually succumb until it finally breaks our backs with consequences we knew would one day arrive.  It’s the struggle to believe that our Lord can still forgive even when we’ve done it again.  These are the giants: The besetting sins that seemingly won’t go away, and character defects that seem impossible to overcome.  And just as soon as we get passed one temptation, Satan is ready with another that we continually struggle with.  For now, let us cling to the promise, “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man.  God is faithful, and He will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation He will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it” (1 Corinthians 10:13).  It’s a hard promise to believe sometimes, but don’t balk at it: Claim it.

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