As I continue trying to make my way slowly through the Bible, I am finding that I have never read - or at least never really considered - large portions of the Old Testament. I find that it can be difficult reading, full of references to unfamiliar places, lists of names and detailed instructions on the creation of the temple, types of sacrifices, etc. But, I am also getting a lot out of it and finding it relevant to my life.
In the Book of Numbers, the Israelites reach the Promised Land and send twelve leaders to explore it and to report back on what they find. Numbers 13:1-20 After forty days of exploration they return and report that the land is all it was reported to be - "a land flowing with milk and honey." Numbers 13:27 But, they report that the people who live there are giants and that their towns are large and fortified! Numbers 13:28 "We can't go up against them! They are stronger than we are!" Numbers 13:31
Only Caleb and Joseph argue the other side, making a speech that I would do well to give to myself every now and again:
"The land we traveled through and explored is a wonderful land! And if the Lord is pleased with us, he will bring us safely into that land and give it to us. It is a rich land flowing with milk and honey. Do not rebel against the Lord, and don't be afraid of the people of the land. They are only helpless prey to us! They have no protection, but the Lord is with us! Don't be afraid of them!"
Numbers 14:7-9 But the Israelites, still untrusting and complaining that they would have been better off as slaves in Egypt, don't only ignore them, they talk of stoning Caleb and Joshua! Numbers 14:10
For any who do not know, or who do not recall, as a result of all of this, there begins the forty years of wandering the wilderness - and, with the exception of Caleb and Joshua, all those who were twenty years or older at the time die without ever making to the Promised Land. When the people hear that this is to be their fate, they try to make a quick apology and move on into the land, but because the Lord was not with them, they are driven out. Numbers 14:39-45
But, my point in writing today has to do, once again, with learning to trust God. How often are we the Israelites, putting our trust in God, right up until the point that we face giants? Then we balk and allow ourselves to be ruled by fear. We start trying to find our own solution to the problem. We doubt. Oddly, at the very time that we should be putting our trust in God to continue to lead us and protect us, we don't. We all have our personal giants that we meet on the path that God has laid before us. Whatever they may be, the key is remember that it is the path that God has laid before us. He has taken us to where we are, and He will take us past (or through) whatever stands in that path. It is then that we should remember Caleb and Joshua who saw the giants, but stayed strong in their faith and put their trust in the Lord. "Do not rebel against the Lord, and don't be afraid of the people of the land. They are only helpless prey to us! They have no protection, but the Lord is with us! Don't be afraid of them!" Numbers 14:9