Among the characteristics we could cite, our forbearers in the faith had at least two qualities about them that enabled them to stand up against great odds. These loved ones of the covenant had faith and courage.
There appears to be a lack in our day of both. More often than I care to think about, doubt and fear have won the day and left God’s saints in a puddle of impotence and despair. I know this has been true of my own life. But this ought never be the case for God’s people.
When Moses sent an expedition to Canaan to explore what awaited God’s children in the land of promise, the report confirmed all that God had promised – it was lush and flowed with milk and honey…as advertised. But there was a catch. There was also quite an obstacle before them. In the land there were also “giants” who made the Israelites seem like hobbits in a land of orcs. The report from the expedition team was that, “We seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes, and we looked the same to them” (Numbers 13:33).
But this wasn’t a unanimous report. For in Numbers 13:30 we read:
Then Caleb silenced the people before Moses and said, “We should go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it.”
Caleb had faith in God and in his covenant promises, and therefore, could be as courageous as Frodo and Sam in Mordor.
David faced similar circumstances later on in redemptive history…with a similar response. As the Israelites shook in their sandals before the great Goliath and the Philistine horde, the young shepherd boy looked on in bewilderment. In what seemed like arrogance at worst and naiveté at best, this “king-to-be” just couldn’t understand why his people had not already taken the uncircumcised behemoth apart – especially in light of Goliath’s jeering and insolence before the living God. David queried:
“Who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should defy the armies of the living God?” (1 Samuel 17:26)
And so like Caleb before him, David volunteered to take Goliath on. So what if he seemed like a grasshopper before this giant of a man – all nine feet of him. David drew courage from his faith in the One who had never failed him before.
Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear; this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, because he has defied the armies of the living God. The Lord who delivered me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.” (1 Samuel 17:36-37)
With faith and courage David faced the giant, and the rest as we say, is history. What was the foundation for such faith and courage in the lives of Caleb and David? We are told in Jeremiah 1:8 and 19.
Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you,” declares the Lord.
They will fight against you but will not overcome you, for I am with you and will rescue you,” declares the Lord.
Caleb and David knew in their day what God told Jeremiah in his. That is, that God’s people will be opposed…that’s a given. We will seem like grasshoppers in comparison. The “apparent” odds will be overwhelmingly against us. But God calls the weak, poor, small, seemingly insignificant hobbits of this world to serve as his subjects – his knights – to advance his Kingdom – even in the face of the enemy (perhaps especially so).
What are the obstacles you are facing? Is anything greater than the covenant-making, covenant-keeping Lord of Glory? It is this very God who promised never to forsake us. That in itself is our grounds for faith and courage – in the midst of insurmountable odds.
Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain. (1 Cor. 15:58)
Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be men of courage; be strong. (1 Cor. 16:13)
Grace and Truth,