Sometimes, Victory Over Giants Takes Time

Do you have giant problems?  Problems that seem too big to overcome, and that just won’t go away?  There was a time when Israel had problems with literal giants and that story may encourage us with our own giant problems.

In Deuteronomy, Moses’ re-telling to Israel of their history as they prepared to finally enter the Promised Land, the second verse says, “It is eleven days’ journey from Horeb by the way of Mount Seir to Kadesh-barnea.”  This eleven-day journey took Israel 40 years after being delivered from slavery in Egypt because they had giant problems.

40 years earlier, Moses sent spies into the land promised by God, not to say whether or not they should conquer the land (God has already decided that they should), but only to document what they saw.  These spies reported back after 40 days in the land at Kadesh, the same place Moses was delivering his address in Deuteronomy.  Unfortunately, the spies did more than document what they saw, they also injected their own opinion: “We are not able to go up against the people, for they are stronger than we are.”[1]

Although the spies agreed the land was very desirable – “And they told him, “We came to the land to which you sent us. It flows with milk and honey, and this is its fruit.” – they added three objections to the report: “However, the people who dwell in the land are strong, and the cities are fortified and very large. And besides, we saw the descendants of Anak there.[2]  The people are strong, the cities are strong, and some of the people – the descendants of Anak – are actually literal giants.  The spies probably thought they were doing the right thing by presenting an “accurate” report of Israel’s military chances in Canaan, but in doing so they were opposing God and His promise.  Only two of the twelve spies – Joshua and Caleb – tried to encourage the people to take the land, but the report of the other ten made the people want to stone Joshua and Caleb to death[3] instead of entering Canaan.  So, God punished the people by making them wander in the wilderness until the entire rebellious generation died, for 40 years.

However, over that time God would also show His people in specific ways that they could overcome the spies’ objections so they could enter the land as He had promised.  It would take time, and more experience of God’s power.

Moses tells that during the wilderness wandering, Israel learned of others who had conquered giants.  In Deuteronomy 2:10-11 Moses recounted land taken by the Moabites: “The Emim formerly lived there, a people great and many, and tall as the Anakim.  Like the Anakim they are also counted as Rephaim, but the Moabites call them Emim.”  In 2:20, he recalled land taken by the Ammonites: “It is also counted as a land of Rephaim. Rephaim formerly lived there—but the Ammonites call them Zamzummim— a people great and many, and tall as the Anakim; but the LORD destroyed them before the Ammonites, and they dispossessed them and settled in their place”.  These “Emim” and “Zamzummim” were like the “descendants of Anak” the spies were afraid of, but those giants were conquered.

Also, in Deuteronomy 3, Moses reminds Israel of their own victories that happened before entering Canaan.  They had defeated Sihon, king of Heshbon, and Og, king of Bashan, object lessons of what God could do, and specifically related to the objections of the spies, who had reported of Canaan that “the cities are fortified and very large.”  Deuteronomy 3:5 reports of the conquered cities of Bashan: “All these were cities fortified with high walls, gates, and bars, besides very many unwalled villages.”

While the spies worried about the giant “descendants of Anak,” Moses reminds Israel that Og, Hesbon’s king, was like one of the giants reported by the spies.  Deuteronomy 3:11 describes him: “(For only Og the king of Bashan was left of the remnant of the Rephaim. Behold, his bed was a bed of iron. Is it not in Rabbah of the Ammonites? Nine cubits was its length, and four cubits its breadth, according to the common cubit.)”  Therefore, before crossing the Jordan into Canaan, Israel had overcome both fortified cities and giants.  Why should they worry about the discouraging report of the spies, instead of trusting Joshua and Caleb’s testimony about God?

Photo by Cristian Palmer on Unsplash

Therefore, if you have giant problems, seek the testimony of others who have conquered giants, and the testimony of your own experience with God, and be encouraged by the words Moses used to close this section of his message: “You shall not fear them, for it is the LORD your God who fights for you.”[4] But overcoming giant problems might take time because He wants to show us His power in ways we can’t imagine.  Israel took 40 years to make this 11-day journey because that is what God required to prepare them.  Israel was not ready for the Promised Land when they first left Egypt.  Allow God the time to prepare you, and He may also show you His power over your giants.

[1] Numbers 13:31
[2] Numbers 13:27-28
[3] Numbers 14:10
[4] Deuteronomy 3:22

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