GIANTS vs. MILK and HONEY

BY:  JAN A. ANTONSSON

OCTOBER 11, 2014

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The Glory Road Blog, A Kingdom Highway

 

“Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them.  Are you not much more valuable than they?” (Matt. 6:26). 

 

The Bible contains the greatest story ever told, the adventure of God walking among His people, teaching them, leading them in paths of righteousness, and correcting them when they faltered.  It is every man’s story, actually, yours and mine, because we encounter similar stressors, similar temptations, and we exhibit the same failings as they who went before.  When I read the Bible as a child, my world view was narrow, comprised of this very farm I now live on, in the unremarkable village of Neosho, MO.  My parents were good Christian folks, who feared God and taught us to fear Him as well.  They set a good example before us, which had the Bible as a guide.  “Fear God, obey Him, and He will take care of you,” was the mostly unspoken message they conveyed to us.

 

The Children of Israel had been led into Egypt by God, who used Pharaoh to save them from famine.  Eventually, however, as you all know, the relationship between the Israelites and the Egyptians became toxic and exceedingly dangerous.  They cried out to the God of their fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and in the fullness of time, pursuant to His will, He heard their cry and then recruited Moses to be the unlikely super hero who set them free.  God told all this to Moses in that recruiting interview, assuring him, “..and I have come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land to a good and broad land, a land flowing with milk and honey, to the place of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites” (Ex. 3:8).  You’ll notice a lot of “ites” in that list, and therein lay part of the problem.

 

We’ll refer to the inhabitants of Canaan as “Ites,” in this writing to save space. It was no small effort to pry the Israelites out of the clutches of Egypt’s Pharaoh, who by this time had morphed from the generous monarch who had rescued the family of Joseph from starvation, into a greedy, self aggrandizing dictator.  He feared that this rapidly multiplying bunch of slaves he depended upon to build his monuments and cities would rebel and overthrow his rule.

 

We all know the harrowing manner in which God freed the slaves.  It included 10 plagues, a dash for freedom with the angry Pharaoh and his chariot driving hoards in hot pursuit.  The Children of Israel witnessed the omnipotent hand of Almighty God on their behalf, as He parted the Red Sea so they could cross over on dry land, quenched their thirst by pouring water out of the rock at Meribah (Ex. 17:7; Num. 20:13), and led them by day with the pillar of cloud and by night with the pillar of fire.  He fed them daily rations of manna, and protected them from the other Ites who were trying to kill them to prevent them from moving in.  They saw it all, up close and personal.  When it came time to explore the land of Canaan, promised to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, a land which was flowing with milk and honey, Moses sent 12 men to spy out the land.

 

Among those were Caleb, from the tribe of Judah and Joshua from the tribe of Ephraim.  They are the only names most of us remember, because they alone believed that God could perform His word; that He could do what He said He would do, against all odds, no matter how it looked.  Moses told them to start at the lowest point of Canaan and work their way north, and he asked them to bring back samples of the fruit growing there. The land was so fertile and fruitful that, “They cut off a branch bearing a single cluster of grapes.  Two of them carried it on a pole between them, along with some pomegranates and figs” (Num. 13:23).  When they returned to the Israelite camp, they gave Moses the following report:  “We went into the land to which you sent us, and it does flow with milk and honey!  Here is its fruit.  But the people who live there are powerful, and the cities are fortified and very large” (Num. 13:27-28).  

 

Only Caleb and Joshua gave a positive report, saying, “We should go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it” (Num. 13:30).  The ten pessimists whined, “We can’t attack those people; they are stronger than we are….The land we explored devours those living in it.  All the people we saw there are of great size…We seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes, and we looked the same to them” (Num. 13: 31-33).  Apparently there lived in Canaan, a race of “giants” known as Nephilim, the descendants of Anak.  This was the final negative propaganda which added untold grief and misery to the lives of God’s children, for because they had not believed His word to them, God told them that they would continue their wilderness wanderings until everyone who refused to go into the Promised Land had died.  That turned out to be a 40 year sentence, punishment for their crimes and sins of disrespecting God.

 

I’ve mentioned our dear friend, Harry Fox many times in these writings.  He told me some 45 years ago now, that what the Israelites were really afraid of was not the giants, but the milk and honey.  It took a long time for that to sink in and become reality for me, but I’ll share what it means to me.  Milk and honey represent very good things, things all of them found desirable.  The Israelites felt unworthy to receive such bounty, because after all, they had been slaves for 400 years in Egypt.  Being held in captivity that long would, of course, have removed any shred of self esteem or self worth they may have had when they first went to Egypt.  Now, they were just Pharaoh’s whipping boys, literally.  

 

Caleb and Joshua, obviously filled with the Spirit of God, argued against the prevailing opinion that Canaan was just too dangerous for them to ever have, saying, “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” (Num. 14:9).  Fine words, majestic words, but alas for Israel, words which fell on deaf ears and blind eyes.

 

I think all of us are crippled by fear too many times, which of course, is why God arranges for giants in the land and scary things in our path, to bring that fear to light so He can love it out of us. With one hand He creates the cactus patch and with the other, He delivers us from it.   Thankfully, we do not live under Law, but under grace, which is on-going, continuous, and ever flooding throughout our lives.  My lesson is to recognize that our fears have to do with our low self esteem and our poor self confidence.  To the degree that we still operate out of our “old man, old wineskin” mentality (the Law), we dare not believe the good things God has for us in Christ, because we fear we don’t deserve them.

 

We are sometimes starving in the midst of plenty, and shivering in the cold when His covering is ever available to us.  He speaks words of comfort and power and uplifting promises of His love and high regard for us, but we can’t believe it.  I don’t think the children of Israel who followed the advice of the 10 spies were totally wicked, but they did not have the Spirit’s indwelling, which we do.  Therefore, we need not live like galley slaves, chained in our grotto of self doubt and unbelief.  We need only to ask,  knock and seek His presence, which flows from Him to us generously, and which gives us the taste of glory which lifts up our drooping heads, so we can change direction.

 

The Land of Promise is there for all of us in the here and now.  We don’t have to wait until we die to get it, for heaven is where God is, and dearly beloved, God is in us, flowing through us, empowering and strengthening us to do His will.  He leads us through green pastures, beside the still waters NOW.  He has restored our soul, and anointed our head with oil.  He will never leave us nor forsake us but will carry us like a shepherd carries the little lambs so we can feel safe and secure.

 

Father, how can we thank You for all You have given us?  By Your grace, we will fear not; we will rejoice and be glad for You have done great things! We ask You to make us instruments of Your peace, deliverers of Your Good News, and dispensers of Your unconditional Love to all who need it, and that’s all of us.  The Lord God Omnipotent Reigneth.  Amen and amen. 

 

 

GIANTS vs. MILK and HONEY [Jan A. Antonsson] 10-11-14          2

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