Grasshopper days. I suspect we’ve all experienced them at one time or another. You know, those days when obstacles loom large before us and we draw back in disappointment, fear, doubt. When the hardness of the way robs us of joy, steals our peace, devours our confidence, zaps our strength. Makes us small.
The nation of Israel certainly understood those kinds of days. Picture with me the scene in Numbers chapter thirteen. Moses sends twelve representatives to spy out the land of Canaan, the land God promised them, and bring back word of their findings. [i] For forty days these brave souls trek over miles and miles of unknown territory. They take in the sights, eat of the fruit of the land, check out the inhabitants. Upon return, they report, “Yes, indeed, the land God promised flows with milk and honey; and this is the fruit of it.” At this point two of them step forward lugging a monstrous cluster of grapes on a pole between them. [ii]
I can almost hear the wonderstruck gasps, the delighted whisperings rippling through their listening crowd. So, this was finally it. Despite their arduous wilderness journey thus far, the challenges, the tense trials and setbacks, God really was coming through for them. The land of promise was sitting there, waiting for them just up ahead.
Ten of the twelve look nervous. There’s that side glance, the clearing of a throat; someone bites their lip. One of them reluctantly speaks up. “Problem is,” he begins with a shrug, “. . . the people living there are powerful. Their towns are large and fortified. We even saw giants there, the descendants of Anak!” [iii]
Smiles fade. Brows pucker.
Caleb and Joshua are aghast. They were among the twelve. They’d traveled those same miles, beheld the same sights, partook of the same fruits . . . saw the same giants. They burst in, “Come on, folks, we can do this! Let’s go up at once and possess it. We are well able to conquer!” [iv]
The aforementioned pothole in the road ahead suddenly becomes a crater. “We’re not kidding!” the ten argue. “We are not able to go up against the people . . . they are too strong for us. And the land, it will devour anyone who goes to live there. All the people we saw were huge. We even saw giants . . . Next to them we felt like grasshoppers, and so we were in their sight!” [v]
Strongholds! Giants! Annihilation! The stupefying bubble over the masses bursts. Hearts melt. People cry out. They weep. They grumble. They blame, accuse, take up stones, threaten mutiny—all because a group of men were having a grasshopper day. [vi]
Israel—the nation distinguished from all other people upon the face of the earth, feared by all nations because God was with them and fought for them—was reduced to mere insects, easily stepped on and crushed. [vii] Instead of melting their opposition, their hearts melted. [viii] In a moment’s time, those chosen by God to rise up as a lioness and lift themselves up like a lion, those who lick up all that is round about them, and who eat up the nations with the strength like a wild ox—saw themselves as food for a land that devours. [ix] What they failed to realize was that this land of milk and honey, with all its monstrous-sized produce, was food fit for giants—giants of the faith. [x]
Lord, spare us those grasshopper days. In the face of threat, fearsome resistance, wearisome trials, help us to remember who we are in Christ. Strengthen us with might by Your Spirit in our inner man. [xi] With that same victorious spirit as Caleb and Joshua, may our war cry be, “We can do this! Let’s go up at once and possess all the promises of God that are ours in Christ Jesus!” [xii]
[i] Numbers 13:17–20 [ii] Numbers 13:21–27 [iii] Numbers 13:28 [iv] Deuteronomy 1:25; Numbers 13:30 [v] Numbers 13:31–33 NLT, NASB [vi] Numbers 14:1–10 [vii] Exodus 33:16; Deuteronomy 1:30–31; Deuteronomy 2:25; Numbers 13:33 [viii] Deuteronomy 1:28; Psalm 22:14; Joshua 5:1 [ix] Numbers 23:24; Numbers 22:1–4; Numbers 24:8; Joshua 24:12; Deuteronomy 7:20 [x] Psalm 105:44; Proverbs 13:22; Joshua 24:11–15 [xi] Ephesians 3:16 [xii] Numbers 14:24; Numbers 13:30; 2 Corinthians 1:20