There Are Giants in the Land
It had been many months now since they had left Egypt, and the Israelites camped at Kadesh-Barnea in the desert. Just a few miles to the north lay the hills of the Promised Land. Moses called the people together and said, “We have reached the land which the Lord our God has promised to give us, so go up and take possession of it as the Lord told you. Do not be afraid!”
The elders of Israel weren’t so sure they could do it, and hesitantly said, “Let us send men ahead to spy out the land first and bring back a report about the route we are to take and the towns we will come to.”
Despite their lack of faith, the Lord agreed to their plan and told Moses, “Choose a prince from each of the 12 Tribes and send them to explore the land of Canaan.” So Moses chose the spies and sent them out.
Disguising themselves, the 12 spies went up and explored the land from one end to another. Finally, on their way back, they stopped at the mountain city of Hebron.
Looking at the city, one of the spies named Palti exclaimed, “Look at the height of those colossal fortified walls! They tower all the way up to heaven.”
“And look who lives here,” another spy named Nahbi cried out.
“Good Heavens,” Palti gasped, looking down the road. “Giants!”
A couple of great, hairy giants came striding by and ominously turned their heads to look fiercely down at the little men. “Who are these little grasshoppers?” one of them bellowed in a deep rumbling voice, pointing his massive spear in their direction. The other giant roared with laughter, “Those little field mice you mean?”
Nahbi trembled, sweat beaded on his face and he stammered, “L-l-let’s leave. Quick!”
But Caleb said firmly, “No. We need to find out more about this place first” and, leaving the rest of the spies, he and Joshua headed up to the city and disappeared into the massive towering gates. It was several hours before they returned after spying out the city. They had found out that all the mountains around Hebron were inhabited by a race of giants known as the Anakims, all of them well over 10 feet tall!
“Hebron has been renamed Kiriath-Arba, after the greatest of the giants, Arba,” Joshua said, “and is ruled by three giants.”
“I believe we can take the city,” Caleb added. “It will be a fight, but …”
“Take the city?! Are you out of your mind?” a spy named Gaddi gasped. “I never want to see this land of giants again!”
Leaving the city, the spies went down into the valley of the nearby Eschol Creek where the giants’ vineyards were ripening in the sun. They cut down a branch of a giant cluster of grapes, two of them carrying it along with other fruit back to Moses.
Forty days had passed by the time they finally returned south to Kadesh-Barnea in the desert. Upon seeing the spies return, Moses and Aaron and the entire camp came out to greet them. The spies displayed all the fruit to the people and Joshua told Moses, “We went into the land to which you sent us and it is a very rich land flowing with milk and honey, as the Lord promised.”
Excitedly, the people began to talk of going up to take the land, but then Palti and the others said, “But the people who live there are powerful, and the cities are fortified and very large. On top of it, the Anakims live there—a race of fierce giants over 1O feet tall!”
The people began murmuring with dismay, but Caleb shouted, “We should go up and take possession of the land immediately, without hesitating, for we are well able to do it.”
But Nahbi protested, “We can’t attack them. They are far stronger than we are!”
Then Nahbi, Palti and the other spies began to spread more discouraging reports. Palti said, “The land we explored devours those living in it. Their cities are strong and walled right up to heaven!”
“Yes,” Nahbi agreed, “and all the people we saw there are of enormous size! We felt like grasshoppers compared to them. Why, there is a proverb in Canaan which says, ‘Who can stand before the Anakims?'”
Upon hearing this, all the people wept aloud and began grumbling against Moses and Aaron. “Why did the Lord bring us to this land just to have us all be killed by the sword?” they cried. “Our wives and children will be taken as captives. Let us choose a captain and return to Egypt. It would be better to die in Egypt!”
Others began crying out, “It’d even be better for us to die in this wilderness!”
Then Joshua and Caleb tore their clothes and said to the entire assembly, “The land we passed through is exceedingly good. If the Lord is pleased with us, He will lead us into it and will give it to us. Only do not rebel against the Lord. And do not be afraid of the people of the land, because we will completely destroy them! Their protection is gone, and the Lord is with us.”
But the people replied, “The Lord hates us! That is why He brought us out of Egypt—to deliver us into the hands of the giants to destroy us. For how can we fight them? Our brothers have made us lose heart!”
But it was too late. The whole camp had lost all faith in the Lord and even began to talk of stoning Caleb and Joshua. Suddenly the glory of the Lord appeared at the tent of the Tabernacle and the Lord said to Moses, “How long will these people refuse to believe in Me, in spite of all the miracles I have done among them?
“How long shall I put up with this evil congregation which doubts Me and murmurs against Me? I have heard the complaints and murmurs which they grumble against Me! Say to them, ‘As truly as I live, saith the Lord, I will do the very things I heard you ask for, and you shall all fall in this wilderness.—Everyone over 2O years old that murmured against Me. Not one of you shall enter into the Promised Land!
“But because My servant Caleb has a different spirit and follows Me wholeheartedly, I will bring him into the land, and his descendants will inherit it. And Joshua will lead Israel to inherit it.
“As for your children, O ye rebels, which you said would be taken as captives, I will give the land to them and they will take possession of it. They will enjoy the land that you have despised. But your bodies shall fall in this desert. For 40 years you will suffer for your lack of faith and will wander until the last of you dies. Now turn around and go into the desert again.'”
Then the Lord smote the ten spies who had brought back a discouraging report, and they all died of a plague!
The entire camp wept and mourned before the Lord, but He turned a deaf ear and paid no attention to them. So they turned back into the desert and began their long, long years of wandering there. Finally 40 years passed and the last of the old generation died. Moses, now very old himself and just about to die, told the younger generation of Israelites, “Hear, O Israel! You are about to go in and conquer nations greater and mightier than yourself, with great cities, walled in high up to the skies. The people are strong and tall, the children of the Anakims. But be assured that the Lord your God is the One who goes ahead of you! He will subdue them before you, and you will destroy them as the Lord has promised you.”
After Moses died, Joshua boldly led the armies of Israel into the Promised Land, and soon they had conquered vast portions of it. As they were dividing up the land between the 12 Tribes, Caleb came up to Joshua and said, “You know what the Lord said to Moses at Kadesh-Barnea about you and me. I was 40 years old when Moses sent me to explore the land. brought back a good report. So on that day Moses swore to me, ‘The land on which your feet have walked will be your inheritance forever, because you have followed the Lord wholeheartedly.'”
His spear in his hand, the white-haired old man said, “The Lord has kept me alive for 45 years since then, and here I am today, 85 years old. I’m just as strong to go out to battle now as I was then. Now give me the hill country of Hebron that the Lord promised me. The giants are there and their cities are large and fortified, but, the Lord helping me, I will drive them out!”
Then Joshua gave him Hebron as his inheritance, and Caleb led his clan up the mountain in the boldness and might of the Lord his God. In the fierce battle that followed, he defeated the armies of the giants and took their city! From there he marched against the giants living in nearby Debir, and his young nephew Othniel attacked and defeated them. Joshua’s armies then destroyed the Anakims from the rest of the hill country so that no giants were left in all the land of Israel.
Food For Thought
The 10 fearful spies walked by sight and not by faith, but even worse yet, they and the people doubted the Lord’s promises, that He would bless them and help them to conquer the Promised Land. Because of this, Paul says that the Lord was “grieved 40 years” with a people who had no faith!
“The Word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it!” (Hebrews 4:2)
The spies’ fearful reports caused all the people to doubt. Backsliders seldom ever backslide alone!–They almost always take others with them. It’s so easy to make logical, reasonable excuses why you can’t make it, and most people will accept your excuses because they don’t have faith either, and in excusing you, they’re excusing themselves!–But will God excuse you?
First the people murmured against their leaders, but later directly against God, saying that God hated them! Hadn’t God already done countless miracles for them during all their many months in the desert?–But they still didn’t believe God could protect them against overwhelming odds.
What is backsliding? Whatever God has shown you to do and has blessed you in doing, if you turn back, that’s backsliding! You don’t even have to leave God’s Work to backslide, you can just refuse to do His Will, or even look back (Luke 9:62), and that, too, is backsliding.–Even if only in your heart you turn back, for soon the body will follow! God hates to see people turn their backs on what He has told them to do, or even things they’ve started to do for Him. ‘If any man shall draw back, My Soul shall have no pleasure in him!” (Hebrews 10:38) “My Soul abhorreth him that turneth back!” (Leviticus 26:27, 30b)
What if they had tried to invade the Promised Land with all those old doubters and unbelievers? It would’ve meant disaster! They might have all gotten killed, so the Lord wisely purged out the rebels, allowing only the believing youth with Joshua and Caleb to go in, and they won!
The people who complain about the battle and then quit just before the victory’s won, never get to enjoy the fruits of victory! A lot of backsliders have quit just before God was about to give them the crown. For God’s sake, don’t miss your reward by stopping short of the victory!
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