#3 (THE "DIFFICULTIES ON THE JOURNEY" SERIES)
"DIFFICULTIES WITH GIANTS!"
TEXT: Numbers 13:1-14:45
INTRO: After traveling only about 2 months from Mount Sinai Israel was on the threshold of experiencing God's great blessing and promise to them, the land of promise was just across the river, the place of blessing -- full of milk and honey! They were excited at the prospects of receiving God's promise, and then they discovered the "giant" problems that faced them in getting that promise!
This journey of faith is full of promises from God, yet, it also means facing "giant" problems in the process! If we act in faith those giant situations will fall before God, but if we become fearful and turn away we will lose out on many of God's best promises!
How we deal with our "giant" problems will determine the outcome of so many of God's promises to us.
PROP. SENT: The Bible teaches us to face "giant" problems with faith, to trust in God's promises of help to overcome the giants we face in our life.
I. "GIANT" PRIZE! 13:1-25
A. Anatomy of a Promise 13:1-20
God had promised
a. There would be plenty for all of them.
b. They would have cities they could call their own!
c. They would have crops and plenty for them and their children.
d. In most cases they would actually have homes already built, cities already built … and crops already planted for them!
e. All they had to do was to go and enter and possess the land, God had promised to drive their enemies out if they would go in faith!
2. It was this “promise land” that inspired them to cross the desert and face the difficulties of the trip!
3. They had dreamed of this place, dreams built solely on God's promises!
4. They had literally bet everything on this promise of God's, they had left the security of Egypt behind. (Although they had been slaves they had learned to live there somewhat securely!)
a. They had braved harsh desert conditions with no other place to go!
b. They had trusted God with this promise!
5. It was a wonderful promise from God, what a blessing!
B. Actuality of a Promise 13:21-25
1. God wanted them to know just how good the land was, so instructions were given for Moses to send in 12 spies to check it out! (13:1-2)
a. As these 12 leaders went (they were younger leaders than previous lists showed, evidently there were older men as leaders for general guidance but spying required younger stronger men, hence the difference in the names of this list from an earlier one) they found the land even more wonderful than they had ever dreamed!
b. God's promise turned out to be better than they had ever dreamed!
2. They found fully developed cities that would become theirs, already built!
3. Indeed, the crops were more abundant than they had thought possible! As proof, they bring back a single branch bearing a single cluster of grapes and it takes a pole and 2 men to carry it!!!! 13:23
4. It was more than they had ever dreamed!! So are God’s promises today!
5. At the end of 40 days they returned to share their report!
II. "GIANT" PROBLEMS! 13:26-33
A. Arguments of Pessimists! 13:26-29,31-33
1. The first thing these spies do is to show the fruit of God's promise, a good first step!
a. They show the evidence that God's Word is true; in fact, the reality of the promise is better than they had earlier thought possible!
b. Indeed they clearly reported that the land was indeed a land of “flowing milk and honey.”
c. BUT, that little word "but" now introduces a big mistake; for not only did they see the blessings they also become obsessed with the obstacles!
2. Even here, their report is essentially true, there were "giants" in the land, it was not so much the actual reporting of facts that was the problem, it was the lack of faith in addressing these giants that was the problem!
a. They share their conclusion with all of Israel that these giants were too much for them, that they couldn't possibly overcome them!
b. At this point they had forgotten that the biggest giant of all is God!!!
c. There is no hope whatsoever in their report! They took their eyes off of God and looked only through human eyes!
3. Their pessimism was great, they saw no sense in even trying, why bother to try, they will only fail in the light of the great opposition!
ILLUS: LIKE A CHARLIE BROWN CARTOON SHOWING SNOOPY HIS DOG WRITING A NOVEL ON TOP OF HIS DOGHOUSE. AS SNOOPY WRITES, "IT WAS A DARK AND STORMY NIGHT..." HE DREAMS OF BECOMING A BEST WRITER. HE SENDS OFF HIS MANUSCRIPT AND WAITS AT HIS DOGHOUSE TO HEAR FROM THE PUBLISHERS. THE NEXT DAY A LETTER ARRIVES; QUICKLY HE OPENS IT AND FINDS 2 REJECTIONS SLIPS. A LETTER READS, "PLEASE FIND TWO REJECTION SLIPS ENCLOSED, ONE FOR THE STORY YOU SENT US, THE SECOND ONE FOR ANY FUTURE STORIES YOU MAY SEND!" – Source Unknown
4. Their mistake was in their conclusion: "we can't attack these people; they are stronger than we are!" 13:31
a. How true, but the enemy was not stronger than GOD WAS!
b. Here the problem is one of focus; they had taken their eyes off of God!
(1. This has always been the problem, Peter did this when walking on the water and he began to sink until he looked to Jesus again!
(2. The armies of Israel only saw a giant named Goliath, someone so big they couldn't win; David came along and saw the same giant Goliath but he saw someone so big he couldn't MISS with God's help!
(3. There are always going to be "giants" blocking us from God's promises, they however are not the problem, the problem is how we see them, and how we see God!
5. Notice their perspective: "the people who live there are powerful, and the cities are fortified and very large … we seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes and we looked the same to them!" 13:28,33
a. Pessimists look at how big the problems are and how small we are!
b. Their focus was completely off of God!
6. The worst part of this however was that they influenced the confidence of so many others, 10 spies who gave an evil report led 3 million others into despair! “And they spread among the Israelites a bad report about the land they had explored.”
a. Our faith, or lack of it, can deeply affect others!
b. They encouraged disbelief in God's promises and power, and in His Word; for God had told them He would give them the land. Now they don't believe Him or trust in His Word or leaders!
B. Acclamation of a Positive! 13:30
1. Fortunately, 2 guys had another perspective: Caleb and Joshua. Here Caleb tries to stop the negative talk and inspire some faith!
2. Caleb's call is to do exactly what God had called them to do, giants or not!
3. His confidence is in God's Word; God said they would be victorious and so they would be, no matter what in the flesh the odds seemed to be!
4. This is the statement of faith, this is STANDING ON THE PROMISES ... rather than sitting on the perils!
5. When faced with overwhelming giants Caleb's advice was to be silent and obey God's Word ... to do what they had been told to do!
a. This is the test of faith in our lives, to obey God's Word and not to panic even when we feel like we are drowning! You can’t go wrong trusting God.
ILLUS: A SPEEDBOAT DRIVER RECENTLY HAD A TERRIBLE ACCIDENT BUT HE SURVIVED THANKS TO FOLLOWING THE TRAINING HE HAD RECEIVED FROM EXPERTS ON HOW TO KEEP FROM DROWNING WHEN DRIVEN DEEP UNDERWATER IN A HIGH SPEED ACCIDENT. AT TOP SPEEDS HE HIT A WAVE THAT TURNED THE BOAT OVER AND DROVE HIM DEEP UNDER WATER. WHILE TWISTING THROUGH THE WATER HE HAD NO IDEA OF HOW FAR UNDER HE WAS OR WHICH WAY WAS UP. IN A PANIC HE WANTED TO THRASH AROUND AND TRY SWIMMING TO GET QUICKLY TO SURFACE, BUT WHICH WAY WAS UP? THEN HE REMEMBERED HIS TRAINING, TO JUST RELAX AND WAIT UNTIL HIS BUOYANCY BEGIN TO LIFT HIM, THEN HE WOULD KNOW WHICH WAY WAS UP AND HE COULD BEGIN SWIMMING IN THAT DIRECTION. TRUSTING IN THOSE WHO HAD TRAINED HIM; THOUGH FRIGHTENED, HE RELAXED UNTIL HE FELT HIMSELF RISING. THEN HE SWAM IN THAT DIRECTION AND SAFELY FOUND THE SURFACE IN TIME FOR AIR! HE DIDN'T FOLLOW HIS FEAR OR IT MIGHT HAVE COST HIM HIS LIFE! – Source Unknown
b. If we obey God's Word even the worst giants we face will fall before us!
III. "GIANT" PANIC! 14:1-9
A. Afraid of a Plunder! 14:1-4
1. 10 bad reports inspired panic in 3 million people!!
2. All night the people wept and then they grumbled about the leadership given by Moses and Aaron!
a. When we panic we look for someone to blame!
b. How dare Moses and Aaron tell them God's blessings were theirs, only to lead them into the face of "giant" issues!
3. Forgetting how God had brought them this far with miraculous help they now assume God is going to let them be destroyed in the desert!
a. In their discontent they pretend that their concerns are for others, their wives and children!
b. They want to choose new leaders who will take them back to Egypt!
4. Those that ignore God will usually ignore God's leaders too!
5. They made the assumption that God is cruel, that He helped them only to let them find misery later! This was a direct attack at the "GOODNESS OF GOD" – at the very character of God Himself!
a. They express the wish that they
would have rather died in the desert or even in
b. This desire will prove to be their downfall for God will answer this prayer!
c. Sometimes the greater danger is not the failure to get from God what we want, but GETTING from God exactly what we want!
B. Advice with a Promise 14:5-9
1. Moses and Aaron fall facedown in front of the whole Assembly.
a. This was a very unusual position to take so abruptly in ancient societies, this was the action of a prophet who expected immediate judgment to fall from an angry God, and was thus an attempt to somehow quickly get God's attention to perhaps stall the judgment!
b. In other words, though rejected by the people, Moses and Aaron love them enough to put themselves between the "living and the dead!"
c. Death was about to strike this rebellious people, Moses and Aaron put themselves willingly between the rebellious people and God, to intercede for them!
Once again Joshua and Caleb make a concerted effort to incite some faith;
they call upon
a. They remind the people that the promise of God is indeed good!
b. They remind the people that God will follow through on His promise to give the land to them if they obey by faith!
c. They remind the people that the odds are changed with God's power, their protection is gone without God’s help, but God's power is with them if only they will respond in faith!
d. Moses and Aaron plead for faith, not fear!
3. Panic and fear won the day however, faith was abandoned and so the stage was set for loss and judgment!
IV. "GIANT" PRICE! 14:10-45
A. Attitude of a Prophet -25
1. Had they only responded with faith! While faith is not always easy, it is less painful than no faith!
ILLUS: THE AFRICAN IMPALA CAN JUMP OVER 10 FEET HIGH AND 30 FEET IN LENGTH ... YET THEY CAN BE KEPT IN A ZOO WITH ONLY A SOLID 3 FOOT HIGH FENCE! THE REASON THEY DON'T SIMPLY JUMP OVER THIS EASY BARRIER OF 3 FEET IS BECAUSE THE FENCE IS SOLID, AND THEY WON'T JUMP IF THEY CAN'T SEE EXACTLY WHERE THEY ARE GOING TO LAND! THEY ARE KEPT AS EASY PRISONERS BY SIMPLY KEEPING THEM FROM SEEING WHERE THEY MIGHT LAND! THIS IS WHAT THE LACK OF FAITH DOES TO US! – Source Unknown
2. God's anger is aroused, and He tells Moses to stand clear while He destroys these faithless people! He promises to make a new nation from Moses!
a. An interesting thing happens here, earlier Moses would have thanked God for such a plan! But this time Moses cries out to God to save them!
b. Moses' reasoning is interesting: "What will the Egyptians think about you God if you destroy your own people?" He adds, "What will all the nations think if you do this?"
c. No doubt this was somewhat of a test for Moses, to see if he had the heart of God to save these people!
3. Moses' prayer is heard and God forgives the people! 14:20
a. However, though forgiven there is still the issue of discipline!
b. Forgiveness is granted but the consequences of their actions will still be experienced!
c. This is often the case today too ... when we sin we may find forgiveness, but there can often be consequences that still live on!
(1. An alcoholic who hurts or kills someone can’t bring them back to life even though they may find forgiveness!
(2. The pregnancy that results from immorality still brings a new life into the world even after forgiveness.
4. The consequences of their sin here is that not one of them will enter the promise land; only Caleb and Joshua will – only those two who had faith!
a. Caleb and Joshua’s faith is rewarded.
b. It will be the next generation that will find God's blessings in the Promise land, lack of faith by this generation however forfeited their right to get God's promises fully!
5. In mercy God instructs Moses to go back by a way that won’t take them into contact with the Amalekites and Canaanites, they are not ready for a fight in their present condition!
6. They had missed the chance to believe God, it would prove to be a costly mistake!
ILLUS: DURING THE TERRIBLE DAYS OF THE BLITZ, A FATHER HOLDING HIS SMALL SON BY THE HAND RAN FROM A BUILDING THAT HAD BEEN HIT BY A BOMB. IN THE FRONT YARD WAS A HUGE BOMB HOLE, AND SO SEEKING SHELTER THE FATHER CLIMBED INTO THE HOLE AND HELD OUT HIS ARMS FOR HIS SON TO JUMP DOWN INTO THEM. THE BOY WAS TERRIFIED, AND LOOKING DOWN INTO THE SMOKING HOLE HE COULD NOT SEE HIS FATHER AT ALL! WITH BOMBS STILL FALLING THE FATHER LOOKED UP AND YELLED FOR HIS SON TO JUMP, HE WOULD CATCH HIM! BUT THE BOY REFUSED AND CRIED OUT, "I CAN'T SEE YOU FATHER!" THE FATHER YELLED UP, "BUT I CAN SEE YOU SON AGAINST THE RED SKY, YOU JUMP, I WILL CATCH YOU EVEN THOUGH YOU CAN'T SEE ME, I CAN SEE YOU! JUMP NOW!" THE BOY OBEYED AND JUMPED, TRUSTING HIS FATHER AND WAS SAVED JUST IN TIME! SO OFTEN WE CAN'T SEE GOD, BUT WE HEAR HIS WORD TELLING US TO OBEY, HE SEES US AND IF WE OBEY WE WILL BE SAFE! – Source Unknown
7. Moses had helped save their lives, just as Jesus does for those who believe.
B. Agony of the Price -45
1. They had said they wanted to die in the desert, now that was exactly what they would get, the natural consequences of no faith!
a. They didn't want faith, so all they got was the desert, no promise land! Like the rest of those who lived and died in it without faith, they would live like the rest of the world in the desert!
b. Everyone older than 20 years old would lose the joy of experiencing the promise land, it would be for another generation to express faith and know God's promises!
2. If our generation loses faith in God, God will move in another one!
3. It is up to us to face the "giants" with faith and trust that God will grant us victory!
a. God is gracious to the children of these unfaithful people; they will learn to be shepherds in the desert!
b. And the children would come to know God's promises although they will live in the desert for 40 years because of their parent’s unfaithfulness!
(1. How important Mom and Dad it is that we teach our kids faith in God by living it, you might spare them a lot of wandering around in a spiritual desert if you live by faith and experience God's promises!
(2. God does not punish the children with the loss of the promise land, although it will be a longer journey to get there because of the lack of faith in the parent's lives!
4. The spies had traveled through the promise land for 40 days; and so, for 40 years they would wander around in the promise land ... 1 year for 1 day of spying – the price of disobedience can be costly!
5. These 10 spies that gave a bad report however were struck down immediately with death for having caused so much unbelief in Israel! 14:36-37
a. God dealt more harshly with those who encouraged unbelief!
b. This was the price for sin!
a. Now they decide they will go into the promise land, but this time God clearly says He will not go with them, they needed to learn their lesson!
b. Once again they ignore God's Word; you can’t get God's promises through disobedience -- ever!
c. The attempt is a terrible failure
and costly, AGAIN! Neither Moses
7. It is important to learn to obey God and stand on His promises in faith, the alternative is not very attractive!
8. Remember, when you face a "giant" problem on the way to experiencing God's promises, remember who is bigger, God always is, NOT them!
a. Then, stand in faith
b. And march forward in faith!
CONCLUSION: You will face many "giants" in your lifetime. You'll either face them and fight, or run away! Running away will only cause aimless wandering and death! Fighting these "giants" with God's promises however will bring "giant" fruitfulness! The only way to face the "giant" problems is with faith in God's promises, His Word – remember that God is still bigger than the biggest giant!!