We Are Well Able
Moses sent them to 'spy' because they were 'the heads' of their families. Their tribes. All 12 men were trusted, admired, respected, and their words carried weight. When they spoke, people shut up and listened.
These men had been slaves. Had the scars on their backs to prove it. Their dads had been slaves. Their grandfathers had been slaves. Everyone they'd ever known had been a slave. And yet, they'd been delivered out of Egypt. These men witnessed the ten plagues: water becoming blood, frogs, lice, flies, the dead livestock, boils, hail, locusts, and darkness at noon. These are the very men who had painted their door frames with lamb's blood so that the angel of God would pass over them. Sparing their first born. And He had. These same men woke that morning to the cries and wales of the Egyptians who woke to dead children in their house. Then there was the whole business at the Red Sea where the most powerful army in the world is breathing down their necks, about to pillage, rape and kill and God parted the waters. And once they reached the other side, these are the same men who watched the waters return and then walked the shore line stepping over the armored bodies littering the beach.
These guys were eye witnesses to the greatest, most miraculous events in the history of mankind.
Given that as their bona fides, their resume, Moses taps them on the shoulder and they set off. Single file. Charting a course through a land that has been promised to them by the same God who did all the stuff I just listed above. They're gone a little over a month. In that time, they walk the breadth of what later became Israel. Upon their return, they brought back, pomegranates, figs, and a cluster of grapes so large, two men were required to carry it on a stick between them. When they walked back into camp, people were giddy with excitement. "Tell us! What'd you see!" Moses gathered them around the campfire, set them up in front of the people and they relayed the story for all of Israel. One by one they stood, "Yep, it's everything we hoped. Beautiful. Lush. Green. Flows with milk and honey. Never seen its equal."
Think about that a second. That moment in time. Can you see the people's faces? Firelight dancing on their warm, red cheeks. Lighting the excitement in their eyes. How they're hugging their children just a little tighter. Smiling just a little wider. Laughing just a little louder. 'Jubilant' comes to mind. For the first time maybe in their whole life they are allowing themselves to hope and to dream and to entertain the idea that, for once, it might come true. Maybe for the first time ever, they were letting their minds wander out across a lush land. Crops in their fields. Oil in the press. Wine at their table. Children playing. Homes of their own. All promised to them by this God who brought them out of slavery, out of Egypt and out from under the hand of Pharaoh.
Then something amazing happened. One of the twelve, and scripture doesn't say who, raised his hand. Watch as the entire crowd turns their heads in unison. Waiting for the next good word. The next promise kept. "Ummm, but you can forget all that cause the cities are built like Fort Knox and the land is populated by Giants.."
Did you hear that? That sucking sound? That was the total deflation of the spirit of an entire people. Look at their faces now. Still smiling? Or do you see something else in their eyes as the word 'giants' pinballs around the inside of their cranium?
"Yeah..." He continued. "The Anakim have been here quite some time. Pretty well entrenched. They run everything. Own everything. Do what they want. They devour people. We were nothing but grasshoppers in comparison."
The descendants of Anak, or the Anakim, were a race of giants that had been around a long time. They were the hands down, baddest dudes on the planet. And had been. Since before Abraham. Before the flood. The stories were legendary. Remember Goliath? He was one of their later descendants.
We don't know how tall they were but we do know that the sweet little kumbayah session at the bond fire came to an abrupt halt as 'all the people wept' and then complained against Moses: "If only we had died in Egypt." As if Egypt and slavery were somehow better.
Return to the fire. To the spies as they offer proof. "Don't believe us? Well, check out those grapes. They eat those." We know that it required two Israelites to carry back a single cluster of grapes that, by extension, one Anakim could eat out of the palm of his hand. The unspoken assumption is if they can eat that for an afternoon snack, they'll devour you. Pick their teeth with your femur.
At this point, the people begin to mutiny. "Moses is out of his mind! Run him through! Let's pick a new leader. Return to Egypt. Maybe they'll take us back!"
Do you hear that? Hear how quickly they made a 180? Funny how they've so quickly forgotten that big body of water back there.
Even God Himself is incredulous: "How long will these people reject Me? And how long will they not believe Me, with all the signs which I have performed among them?"
Take another look at that campfire. Look into the spiritual. At what you can't see with your physical eyes. Be Frank Peretti. John Eldredge. C.S. Lewis. J.R.R. Tolkien. Peter. Paul. Now look at all the evil dudes perched atop the Israelites shoulders whispering in their ears. "That God you've been bragging about? Well, guess what. He's nuts. Nothing but a tyrant. Brought you out here to drop you off at the foot of a giant who's gonna eat you. Rape your sister and mother. Floss his teeth with your hide."
Echoes of Smeagol.
Fear is insidious. It breeds doubt. Spawns terror. Spreads like wildfire. And it is not and never has been the heart of God the Father. He hasn't give us that.
But, hold up. There in the midst of wailing, of moaning, of complaining, of a full-fledged mutiny, a man named Caleb, hops up on a table and 'quiets the crowd.' He raises his hands, raises his voice and speaks above the crowd because they refuse to be hush. "Let us go up at once and take possession, for we are well able to overcome it."
Don't you love that. Everytime I hear it I want to climb up on top of my house and scream at the top of my lungs, "We are well able!"
Study that picture a second. There he stands. Caleb is incredulous to the people's doubt. To the thing he sees spreading throughout them. The rippling fear. In my mind, he screams this three or four times -- each time louder. "...at once. We are well able..."
The ten quickly respond. "We are not able, for they are stronger than we."
First Charles Translation -- "Dude...sit down. They're huge and they're gonna kick our butts. We're all gonna die. Certainty of death? One hundred percent."
In the ensuing clamor, Caleb is joined by Joshua. Two against ten. Shoulder to shoulder with Caleb. He says, "If The Lord delights in us, then He will bring us into this land and give it to us. Only, don't rebel against Him, and don't fear either the people or the land. They are our bread."
Ahhh, that is just liquid fuel for my soul. 'Our bread.' I want to drink from that firehose.
FIrst Charles Translation -- "Everybody, hold on just a second. Not only are they not going to eat us, we're gonna eat them. Bake them in the oven, then dip them in olive oil with a little salt."
Generations later, we see that same incredulity in David standing in Saul's tent, staring down on the field and that giant Goliath. And it starts with this: "What are you people thinking?!!!"
The whole congregation wasn't having that so they started picking up stones with which to bash out Caleb and Joshua's brains. And it's about at this point that God has had enough of this foolishness. You know the rest of the story. That entire generation of people dies in the wilderness. Never set foot in the promise land. Save Caleb and Joshua. God says, "But my servant Caleb, because he has a different spirit in him and follows me fully, I will bring into the land where he went..."
Now, return to the fire. Let the camera scan across the ten. Let the image sink in. Those leaders? Those proven men? Those eye witnesses? Not one of those jokers lived to see the promise. Not one set foot across the Jordan.
To add his exclamation point forty years later, Joshua would 'utterly destroy the Anakim with their cities.' (Josh 11:21) Stare at the picture a minute. Now find Caleb in the battle. See his sword? What color is it?
A lot has been made of the 300's battle with the Persians. I'm not taking anything away from them and I am a fan, but when I get to heaven I want to see the video on Joshua and Caleb opening a can of whoop-tail on the Anakim.
Here's the deal, God led His people into a promised land. We are no different. Today, He is leading you and me into a land of promises. Problem is, we've forsaken His written promises choosing instead to focus on our crappy circumstances. Arms crossed, we are shaking our heads. Back peddling a bit. Making excuses. "I'm not really sure."
We need a swift kick in the pants and if my mother and children weren't reading this I'd say it another way because I want the emphasis that accompanies a well-placed cuss word. Actually, if my mother were writing this, she'd say it that way, too. Boys, pay attention to your grandmother.
Smeagol sits on one shoulder. Screwtape on the other. Both are whispering lies. And every word coming out of their mealy little mouths is contrary to what God has promised. But here's the deal -- God has not changed. His arm is not shortened so that He can not save. He calls those things which aren't as though they are. He said it then and He is saying it now: "Lazarus! Wake up, pal. The time for sleeping is over. Come on out." He heals all our diseases. Has given us all authority in heaven and on earth. Saw Satan cast down like lightning. Defeated death and the grave. Carries the keys to prove it. His hair is white, eyes afire, feet like burnished bronze, sword girded on His thigh, when He opens His mouth it sounds like rushing waters or the break at Pipeline and the entire host of heaven, dressed in white linen, is lined up in battle array behind Him. Swords clanking. Shields glistening. Horses chomping at the bit.
What more do you want?!
My question is this: what is your response to the promises laid out in scripture by the God of the Universe? The God who thought and spoke you into existence.
Your doubt, your lack of conviction, your straddling the fence, your laid back, arms crossed, feet kicked up on the coffe table, "I"m not really sure..." That's not from God.
Gut check time -- who's spirit is in you?
We're all facing Anakim. Everyday, we wake up in a world where they walk the streets. Welcome to earth. But the truth is this -- You are well able and they're defeated. Driven out. Cast down. Given into your hand. What you see is posturing. What you hear are lies from the pit of hell.
So, what's it gonna be?
Backpedal? Mutiny? Turn tail and run?
Or, will you hop up here on the table, stand shoulder to shoulder with two giants named Caleb and Joshua, raise your hands and scream above the crowd?
"THEY ARE OUR BREAD!"