Summary: In life there are optimists and pessimists. Optimists focus on what can be; possibilities, opportunities, and potential. Pessimists on the other hand tend to focus on problems, obstacles and potential doom. Optimists tend to operate by faith not by sigh
Grapes, Giants, Grasshoppers and God
Num 13:1-4, 23-33
Intro: This month makes the 200rth anniversary of the Lewis and Clark Expedition. In May 1804 President Thomas Jefferson commissioned Meriwether Lewis and William Clark to search out a possible route to the Pacific Ocean. Jefferson, like many scholars of his day believed in the existence of the Northwest Passage or some other water rote to the Pacific Ocean. Lewis and Clark began their journey by heading west from St. Louis on the Missouri River.
They believe that they would simply follow the Missouri River to its head in the Rocky Mounts and once there they would find another river that would lead down the western side of the mountains straight to the ocean. What the found was quite different; the journey was anything but easy and was nothing like they had planed. They spent many days carrying their canoes over the Continental Divide, through snow and had climbing. Once on the other side of the divide they didn’t find another water passage so they had to continue to carry their canoes and supplies through the deep snow until they found what we know as the Snake Rive and followed it into Washington State. Once there they found the Columbia River which took them to the Pacific.
On their journey Lewis and Clark ran into many obstacles, they faced harsh weather, hostile natives, turns and twists along the trail they never expected. They had to go over the falls and rapids of the Missouri River. They could have given up at anytime along the journey and turned back. But when you read the journal you find a surprisingly optimistic view. Here is just one of many quotes from the journal written on 1 year after they began their journey, “The country on both sides of the Missouri continues to be open level fertile and beautifull as far as the eye can reach ...” This is a quote from Lewis’ journal written just a few days before reaching the Pacific, nearly 1 ½ years after departing on their journey, “Cool the latter part of the last night this morning clear and butifull;…” When you read their account you can not help but sense that these men were very optimistic about their journey and they never doubted that they would be successful on their mission. They were optimistic and they had great faith. Today I want to look at another group that was sent on a mission to “search” out an unknown land and bring back a report.
Names are really interesting. Parents often spend countless hours deciding what to name their children. We know names are important. In some countries and cultures, names carry significant meanings intended to shape the character of the child. In some cultures, a first or middle name is handed down for generations. In almost any culture, there are some names that become very popular for a time. There are some names that people remember right away because of what they did in history. John F. Kennedy. Martin Luther King. Charles Manson. Adolph Hitler.
Here are some names you might remember. Shammua, Shaphat, Igal, Palti, Geul, Gaddiel, Gaddi, Ammiel, Suthur, Nahbi. Don’t sound familiar? Never heard of anyone named after these guys?
How about these . . . Joshua, Caleb? People have named their sons these two names for thousands of years. Why? You see, the first names I read were names of ten of the spies who went by God’s order to search out the Promised Land after the people of Israel had been delivered from slavery in Egypt. They were the ten who came back with a negative report of the land, scaring God’s people and influencing them to disobey God’s command to enter and possess the land. Joshua and Caleb, on the other hand, were the two spies who came back with a favorable report, encouraging the people to obey God and enter the land God had promised them - TO LIVE BY FAITH. Let’s look back at that story for a moment.
The children of Israel had come to the border of Canaan. God commanded His servant to send a committee to search out the land. When they came back, they had a majority report and a minority report. The majority report can be summed up by three words: grapes, giants and grasshoppers. They told Moses they had seen great clusters of grapes, but that there were great giants in the land. Then they said to him, ‘We are like grasshoppers in their sight.’ The children of Israel had to decide whether they were going to enter the land or stay out.
All the reading I have done indicates to me that the land of Canaan does not represent Heaven, for in Heaven there are no giants, no battles, and no heartaches. And all those things were in the land of Canaan. What Canaan likely does represent however, is what we sometimes call "the victorious Christian life." Many things are out there for us, but many times we do not move out and take them because we see the giants.