Summary: The giants of our hearts that keep us out of God’s rest.
Land of the Giants
With toes curled tightly over the edge of the diving board and the refreshing blue water 12 feet below, I found myself at 7 years old for the very first time standing on the high diving board. With friends cheering below, which seemed more like a mile away rather than just 12 feet, I was faced with the decision that one step forward would bring great accomplishment, pride and acceptance or one step backward would bring great failure, embarrassment and ridicule.
The Israelites in our passage this morning are standing at the edge of the Promised land, the land God promised to give them for their own, poised to reap the blessings and the treasures that lay in the land of Canaan.
The 12 spies returned from exploring the land with a glowing report—the fruit was large and luscious and the land indeed “flowed with milk and honey”. When they returned they reported that the land was just as God had promised but they observed that there were obstacles in the land as well—the people were powerful, the cities fortified and there were even giants in the land. Their observations led to negative interpretation (we can’t attack these people), which led to exaggeration (all the people are giants) and ultimately led to paralyzation (let’s all just forget the whole thing and go back to Egypt).
Canaan, in the Old Testament, is a type of the kingdom of God, God’s rest and the peace found in His presence. The promise of the kingdom of God is given to every believer—but how often do we get right up to the edge of God’s peace, staring at the fruit of His rest, only to back away because of the giants living there.
How many come right up to the edge of salvation, get a glimpse of the joys others express, feel the conviction of the Spirit in their hearts but pull away because the giant of the world beckons to them. [Felix in the Book of Acts, after hearing Paul relay the gospel message of salvation through Jesus Christ says, “You may leave now; I’ll send for you later when I find it convenient to hear about this again.”]
How many come up to the edge of walking in total obedience to God, seeing the blessings of a consecrated life and the rewards of servanthood, desiring to be committed to that life, but decide that the price is too costly and the time too demanding.
But you see my friends, it wasn’t the giants in the land that made them complain and grumble against God, nor is it the obstacles in our own Christian life that keep us from a fulfilling walk with Christ, it is the giants in the heart—the giants of unbelief, of fear and of complacency that really keep us from enjoying God’s peace and presence.
See, every Promised Land has its giants, every blessing has its challenges. When the rich man asked Jesus what he must do to inherit eternal life, Jesus answered, “Keep God’s commandments and sell all you have and come follow me.” The blessing of eternal life was met by the challenge of getting his priorities in order.
I. The first giant we face is the giant of unbelief.
When you think about it, God simply said to go and explore the land, not determine if it was the right place. God already knew the land was good and already gave it to the Israelites. So—the Israelites had no reason not to believe God. They had both His promises that this would be their land and it would be bountiful, but they also had experience on their side as well. God already delivered them from slavery in Egypt, He fed them each and every day and He went before them as a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. We too live both by God’s word in Scripture and our experiences with Him. So why does unbelief even enter in?
Here’s what we think—
It’s those darn giants again—we would have no problem trusting God if it weren’t for those challenges and obstacles all around us!
You see my friends, the giants are there to test our trust and belief as well as bring us to maturity.
Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
God is teaching us that our faith never grows in comfortable surroundings—as a matter of fact, if things are too easy it doesn’t even take faith at all.
If it’s difficult and gets done anyway, our faith grows and God gets the glory. Have you ever noticed—