If the LORD is pleased with us, he will lead us into that land, a land flowing with milk and honey, 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 swallow them up. Their protection is gone, but the LORD is with us. Do not be afraid of them.” Numbers 14:8-9

It had been a long journey for the people of God. After years of captivity they had been rescued from Egyptian bondage after a series of miracles in which Pharaoh allowed them to leave. Now they reached the border of the Promised Land. During the journey God had provided them with fresh water, fresh meat, and shade from the hot desert sun by day and the warmth of a pillar of fire by night. All of this in the face of constant complaining on the part of the Israelites.

Now 12 spies were being sent into the land to scout it out. The excitement these men must have had! This was it! After years of waiting all their dreams were to be fulfilled. They gave their wives and children a final kiss and hug and walked into the land that had been described to them as a ‘land flowing with milk and honey.’

Their mission? To gain information that would be helpful for conquest. What were the people like? What did the cities look like? What was the land like? And perhaps most importantly, ‘Bring back some of the grapes!” Fresh fruit would surely be a treat that most of these people had never tasted!

Imagine what it must have been like for the families who stayed behind. Watching daily for the familiar figures of the men to come over the mountain. Dreaming of having a home again and no longer being nomads; the children excitedly bragging about what they would do once they got there. It must have been a very exciting time.

Finally, one day someone shouts “They’re back!” A cheer erupts as the 12 figures approach the camp loaded down with huge bunches of sweet, ripe grapes. What a celebration must have ensued as the men told stories of what they had seen and the adventures they took part in.

Then, the most important news of all, “What are the people like?” And a hush falls over the crowd. The countenance of the men grows grim. “They are too big,” They speak softly and shake their heads “The cities are walled; the men are huge like giants. A group such as ourselves doesn’t stand a chance against them.”

Women wept. Children stared with disbelief. Men grew angry. The turned on Moses and Aaron first. It was their idea to drag them into the wilderness. Then they turned their anger towards God. It was so much better in Egypt. The food was wonderful. They had homes and good land. Now they were doomed to life in the desert.

In the midst of the chaos two of the twelve spoke up. They had been largely ignored at first as they were the youngest. Now they raise their voices. “Listen! If God is in this, and He’s told us He is, then the size of the enemy doesn’t matter! Don’t blame God. Give Him a chance to show His power. If He is on our side it doesn’t matter how big they are or how tall their walls are. Protection comes from God not men and not buildings!”

The message is the same for us today. When we are walking in God’s way and following His direction and guidance, His protection is upon us. That doesn’t mean we won’t endure the wilderness from time to time. Being a Christ-follower doesn’t exclude us from suffering.  What it does mean is that eventually, if we are patient and trust Him, He will bring us to the ‘Promised Land’.

PRAYER: Father God I thank you for the protection you promise us through your Son, Jesus Christ. I confess to you the times when I’ve complained about life and questioned your direction. Forgive me for the fear I have of the giants in my life. Help me to rest on your promise that your protection is with me as I war against the giants I encounter. Amen.

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