“But the men that went up with him said, We be not able to go up against the people; for they are stronger than we. And they brought up an evil report of the land which they had searched unto the children of Israel, saying, The land, through which we have gone to search it, is a land that eateth up the inhabitants thereof; and all the people that we saw in it are men of a great stature. And there we saw the giants, the sons of Anak, which come of the giants: and we were in our own sight as grasshoppers, and so we were in their sight.” (Numbers 13:31-33)
Larry Walters always wanted to be a pilot, but eyesight only allowed him to be a mechanic in the Air Force. After retirement, he got an idea one day. At the Army Surplus store he bought a tank of helium and forty-five weather balloons. He strapped the balloons to his lawn chair which he had staked to the ground. Larry expected to drift slowly up for a few minutes, but when he cut the rope holding him to the ground, his chair shot up rapidly, finally leveling off at eleven thousand feet. Eventually a Coast Guard helicopter got a line to him and towed him to the ground and safety. When asked why he did it, he said, “A man can’t just sit around all his life.”
Numbers 13 – 14 tells the story of a people named Israel. They had come to a comfortable place at Kadesh Barnea where God provided them everything they needed. But now He was getting ready to call them out of their comfort zone.
The scripture passage makes it plain that it was God who sent was sending His children into the Promised Land. Not only that, but it was God who prepared what they would find when they got there. He had already created the blessings (a land that flowed with milk and honey) and the problems (giants in the land). God was in total control of this situation.
Israel’s first decision was to choose representatives to go in and spy out the land God was calling them to. At Moses’ direction, they were to investigate three things: What kind of people were they facing? (v.18) What kind of land were they entering? (v.19a) What kind of strongholds did they face? (v.19b).
There are several implications to see in this passage:
God is in control of the challenges He puts before us. Notice that verse two says, “the land …I am giving.” This is stated in the present tense even though Israel had not yet even entered the Promised Land. The principle here is simple and yet missed by so many Christians—we are called to do much for God, but He has already prepared the way for us to do all of those things. All we are called to do is to walk in obedience so God can accomplish those things in us through His power.
“But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) and hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: that in the ages to come he might show the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. For by grace are ye saved through faith, and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God, not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:4-10)
Not only is God in control, but He also never glosses over the implications of following Him. The Lord sent spies into the land first so they could see what they were getting into. Christ never glossed over the challenges that face us if we chose to follow Him.
In Luke 9, Jesus honestly revealed to us the giants that face us if we decide to follow Him:
- Some will reject our faith (Luke 9:1-6).
- There will be work to do in sharing the gospel (vv.10-17).
- We will have to learn what God’s agenda is to follow Him (vv.27-36).
- We will have to die to self to follow Him (v.23, 46-48).
- We will have to leave our comfort zones to follow Him (vv.57-62).
There are plenty of blessings in the Christian life when it comes to following Christ, but there are also many challenges. The marvelous truth is this; even the problems are blessings when we bring them to Christ. As we trust Him with those who reject us, the weariness of the work, the struggle of putting aside our plans for His, the battle of dying to self, and the unknown factor of leaving our comfort zones, we find grace from God to face those things. That grace is a blessing.
The people had to be anxious because the spies were gone for forty days (v.25). And when they returned they gave a glowing report and showed off the huge fruit they had brought back with them. But then came those fateful words, “nevertheless…” (v.28). You know there are going to be complications when someone throws that little word “but” into the conversation.
The spies explained the complications they saw in following God into the Promised Land. First, there were giants in the land. Secondly, those giants lived in fortified cities. Finally, those giants were everywhere (v.29).
We face all the same things whenever we follow God outside of our comfort zone. There are giants out there! All believers face giants of unbelief, ignorance, and apathy. There are people in our lives who will not turn to God. There are problems that are way bigger than we are. Not only are there giants, but those giants are deeply entrenched and fortified. We face problems that just won’t go away and everywhere we turn, we run into more giants. Believer, accept that you can’t run away from the problems of life. You must face them in the grace of your Savior and Lord.
This reminds us that the response to our giants is the real issue here (Numbers 13:30-14:10). Most of the people responded in fear. They protested that those giants were just too big for them to face (13:31-33). Their attitude was, “We had rather be comfortable in failure than uncomfortable in victory” (14:1-3). When all other excuses fell short, they just blamed their leaders (14:4).
Joshua and Caleb responded a far different way. They didn’t deny that there were indeed some fierce giants to face if they obeyed God and crossed the Jordan River. But they had their eyes on God rather than on their problems. They had to go in because it was God who was sending them there. Surely God could be trusted to be faithful to His Word. That is the vision we all need to face the challenges of life. It is our vision of God that determines our response to the challenge.
“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13)
“You will not need to fight in this battle. Position yourselves, stand still and see the salvation of the LORD, who is with you, O Judah and Jerusalem! Do not fear or be dismayed; tomorrow go out against them, for the LORD is with you.” (2 Chronicles 20:17)
What is God calling you to that would take you out of your comfort zone?
- The comfort zone of life as it is – why rock the boat, life is pretty good.
- The comfort zone of relationships – if I follow Christ someone may reject me or not want me.
- The comfort zone of old attitudes – if I follow Christ I will have to let go of my bitterness, jealousy, etc…
Joshua and Caleb knew that the only safe place in life is where God is and God is not inside your comfort zone!