"There we saw the giants (the descendants of Anak came from the giants); and we were like grasshoppers in our own sight, and so we were in their sight." -- Numbers 13:33
In Numbers 13, the Israelites are standing at the edge of the Promised Land. Everything that has taken place up to this point has led up to this very moment. Twelve men—who also happen to be heads of tribes—are chosen to “spy out the land of Canaan” (v. 17). The 12 men return with the same factual report: the land is fruitful and occupied. But they aren’t on the same page when it comes to their conclusion. Ten of them believe they don’t stand a chance against the inhabitants (v. 31), while Joshua and Caleb are confident they can overtake the inhabitants and take possession of the land—the land that God had promised them.
Joshua and Caleb were looking at the land through the eye of faith. They saw the possibilities, instead of the problems. They saw God, instead of the giants. Caleb had a “different spirit” (Num. 14:24). They had faith: “We are well able to overcome it” (Num. 13:30). They also had confidence that they would win.
Meanwhile, scripture describes the 10 spies’ report as “bad” (Num. 13:32). They expressed doubt: “We are not able” (Num. 13:31), as well as unbelief and fear, even though they had witnessed the power of God many times before.
There are two quick lessons we can learn from this story:
Focus on the promise, not the problem: The Israelites painted mental pictures of all that could possibly happen to them (Num. 14:3). But instead of crying out to God or praying, they choose to do what did they best: complain (v. 1-2). Joshua and Caleb saw the exact same things, but their eyes were focused on the promise of God (v. 7-8). They had the proper perspective. God’s way doesn’t always make sense to us (Is. 55:8-9). But let’s not be guilty of using our sense to try to invalidate the powerful sense of God.
Feed your faith, not your fears: The 10 spies spread their fears around, and the people fed on that negative report. The battle was lost, even before it began. However, Joshua and Caleb recognized where they were—on the edge of the Promised Land—not because they had been great, but because God had been great to them (Num. 14:6-9). The Israelites didn't get there on their own. We don't get to where we are in our walk of faith with Jesus on our own. We get there by the power of God.
The question is not, “How big is the problem?” or “How small am I?” But it’s, “How big is my God?”