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Lent Devotional 2020 – March 22

PRAY

Show me Your glory, I pray.
Exodus 33:18

READ

Moses sent them to spy out the land of Canaan, and said to them, “Go up there into the Negeb, and go up into the hill country, and see what the land is like.”… At the end of forty days they returned from spying out the land.  And they came to Moses and Aaron and to all the congregation of the Israelites in the wilderness of Paran, at Kadesh; they brought back word to them and to all the congregation, and showed them the fruit of the land. 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. Yet the people who live in the land are strong, and the towns are fortified and very large; and besides, we saw the descendants of Anak there. The Amalekites live in the land of the Negeb; the Hittites, the Jebusites, and the Amorites live in the hill country; and the Canaanites live by the sea, and along the Jordan…The land that we have gone through as spies is a land that devours its inhabitants; and all the people that we saw in it are of great size. There we saw the Nephilim (the Anakites come from the Nephilim); and to ourselves we seemed like grasshoppers, and so we seemed to them.
Numbers 13:17, 25-29, 32b-33

Have you ever been camping and lived out under the stars? It can be loads of fun, except for mosquitos, hard ground, shivering cold temps, creepy crawlies, and hopes the rain will stop. It can feel so good to take down the tent and head home to four walls and a roof.

In today’s scripture the Israelites are nearing home. Let your imagination play with the scene as they can look over the River Jordan and see a land flowing with milk and honey. All of their lives they have been told how God promised Abraham, Isaac and Jacob to bring them to shalom in the Promised Land.

Now on the border of the Promised Land, Moses dispatches a twelve-man reconnaissance team to spy out the land and report back. But sadly the team’s majority brings back a Good News/Bad News Report!

First, the Good News! From the far north to the south, from hill country to the desert, they had explored the land, and found it just as God had promised: “it flows with milk and honey.” That’s the Good News.

Now the Bad, and it is really bad! Admittedly, the land is good, but “the people who live in the land are strong, and the towns are fortified and very large.” They feel the land would swallow them up. Alongside the inhabitants they felt small, and the inhabitants looked down on them as if they were grasshoppers.

We see them quickly going from God’s “treasured possession out of all the people” and a “holy nation” (Exodus 19:5-6), to feeling like grasshoppers! Rather than seeing themselves as God sees them, they now see themselves as other people see them. Always a fatal mistake! They have their eyes on the problems rather than on God. This will mean turning back, regressing, to wander in the Wilderness for 40 years!

Bible commentator C. H. Mackintosh comments on the sad turn of events:

“Not a word about God. He is entirely shut out. Had they thought of Him, had they thought of the giants in comparison to Him, then it would not have made one whit of difference as to whether they themselves were grasshoppers, or whether they were men. But, in point of fact, by their shameful unbelief, reduced the God of Israel to the level of a grasshopper.” (C. H. Mackintosh, Notes on the Penteteuch)

When we shut God out of our problems, our problems always end up looking like giants! “We have to pray with eyes on God, not on the difficulties.” (Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest)

REFLECT

  • How about you? Do you have eyes fixed on God or on your difficulties?
  • With eyes fixed on who God is, take a few moments to talk with Him about a difficulty you are facing.

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