Numbers 13, 14 chronicles one of the most tragic moments of Israelite history. The Israelites were on the verge of crossing into the Promised Land. As commanded by God, they send in twelve men on a reconnaissance mission. After 40 days, the men return with a promising report of an abundant land overflowing with mild and honey. However, the men also reported that it was impossible to conquer the land because it was inhabited by giants who would surely destroy the Israelites if they attempted this. This fearsome report caused them to grumble and murmur against God and invited his wrath. For their sin of unbelief, God judged that none of that Israelite generation over 20 years old at that time would cross over into the Promised Land, except for Joshua and Caleb.
In the movie ‘Facing the Giants*’, American football coach Grant Taylor, the main character, is facing some ‘giants’ in his own life. His high school football team is perennially losing on the field. His house and car is breaking down, he cannot become a father and, even worse, he discovers a conspiracy to kick him out of his job. In his moment of despair, he asks his wife, “What’s God doing? Why is it so hard?” Yet, as the movie progresses, we see him overcoming his ‘giants’ of fear and failure and inspiring the people around him to do likewise.
What made Coach Taylor overcome his circumstances where the Israelites could not? In a pivotal scene, Coach Taylor walks in a field, praying the promises of Psalm 18 back to God to be his rock, his fortress and his shield. In his adversity, Coach Taylor turns to the promises of God’s Word. This is in stark contrast to the Israelites who turn away from the promises of God’s Word. They forgot God’s promise in Numbers 13:2 “send some men to explore the land of Canaan, which I am giving to the Israelites…”
More than simply being a guide to living well, the Bible is literally the promises of God to us. For this reason, it is important to read his Word, memorize it and reflect on it. When we do so, God’s Word becomes personalized to us and we can talk to God about it in our prayers. By doing so, we allow it to penetrate into the deepest nooks and crevices of our person, so that it becomes rooted within us, awaiting the Spirit’s bidding to bear fruit. Such a process of growth does not come overnight but it will come as long as we remain responsible to doing our part of reading, remembering and reflecting on Scripture. Let us return to this discipline of memorizing Scripture so that we may echo what the Psalmist says, “I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you” (Psalm 119:11)