Imagine being among the crowd, waiting in eager anticipation to hear from the scouts that were sent by Moses to scope out Canaan, the land promised by God. Can you feel the excitement in the air, the buzz of whispers speaking of their return? Soon, you see their silhouettes, their shadows cast by the brightness of the sun. A hush falls on the crowd, expectant of news.
They presented themselves before Moses and Aaron and the whole congregation of the People of Israel in the Wilderness of Paran at Kadesh. They reported to the whole congregation and showed them the fruit of the land. Then they told the story of their trip:
“We went to the land to which you sent us and, oh! It does flow with milk and honey! Just look at this fruit! The only thing is that the people who live there are fierce, their cities are huge and well fortified. Worse yet, we saw descendants of the giant Anak. Amalekites are spread out in the Negev; Hittites, Jebusites, and Amorites hold the hill country; and the Canaanites are established on the Mediterranean Sea and along the Jordan.
Caleb interrupted, called for silence before Moses and said, “Let’s go up and take the land–now. We can do it.”
But the others said, “We can’t attack those people; they’re way stronger than we are.” They spread scary rumors among the People of Israel. They said, “We scouted out the land from one end to the other–it’s a land that swallows people whole. Everybody we saw was huge. Why, we even saw the Nephilim giants (the Anak giants come from the Nephilim). Alongside them we felt like grasshoppers. And they looked down on us as if we were grasshoppers.”
Joshua son of Nun and Caleb son of Jephunneh, members of the scouting party, ripped their clothes and addressed the assembled People of Israel: “The land we walked through and scouted out is a very good land–very good indeed. If GOD is pleased with us, he will lead us into that land, a land that flows, as they say, with milk and honey. And he’ll give it to us. Just don’t rebel against GOD! And don’t be afraid of those people. Why, we’ll have them for lunch! They have no protection and GOD is on our side. Don’t be afraid of them!”
But, up in arms now, the entire community was talking of hurling stones at them.
(Numbers 13:26-30, 14:6-10, The Message)
What happened? The land was flowing of milk and honey – they even brought back the fruits of the land to show everyone: it was not manna! Yet, fear quickly spread like a bushfire among the people which consumed any remainder of faith in Yahweh, who had always provided for them.
President F. Roosevelt once wisely remarked, “We have nothing to fear, but fear itself.” For me, I know that to be true. Fear carries my imagination far, far away and sometimes even hides behind the mask commonly known as worry. Maggots become huge squishy worms that don’t die (even though I know I am bigger than them), roller coasters and the echoing screams make them look bigger and worse than they are (they’re fun!), and snowboarding down an unfamiliar run makes me wary of falling off a cliff again (but without going down once, I would never know what is ahead). If I have little faith in small challenges, where will my faith be in big ones?
Junior Asparagus, in the Veggies Tales video Where’s God When I’m S-Scared? aptly sings, “God is bigger than the boogey man, He’s bigger than Godzilla or the monsters on TV. Oh God is bigger than the boogey man, and He’s watching out for you and me.”
I know that conquering fear does not mean I should pay no heed to caution, but when I know that God has paved a way for me, perhaps in the areas of service or ministry, fear should not have a place.
God prepared the Promise Land for the Israelites, but they ended up not being able to claim it as theirs (in later attempts to enter by force, their efforts were, of course, futile).
The LORD replied,
I have forgiven them, as you asked. Nevertheless, as surely as I live and as surely as the glory of the LORD fills the whole earth, not one of the men who saw my glory and the miraculous signs I performed in Egypt and in the desert but who disobeyed me and tested me ten times- 23 not one of them will ever see the land I promised on oath to their forefathers. No one who has treated me with contempt will ever see it. 24 But because my servant Caleb has a different spirit and follows me wholeheartedly, I will bring him into the land he went to, and his descendants will inherit it.
(Numbers 14: 20-24, The Message)
Does fear interfere with doing God’s will? Are we withholding ourselves from blessings and promises from Him when we hold back because of fear? What happened on the outskirts of Canaan serves to be a good reminder for me to step out and trust God in all I do.
Written for TalkBAC, October 2005