Have you ever seen an opportunity slip away from you and later on you wished you had taken full advantage of it? Life is full of such opportunities, I think. They range from the very inconsequential to life changing. It is one thing to fail to grasp an opportunity to go see a sporting event because someone gives you a free ticket. It is quite another to forgo a life changing job opportunity. Somewhere along that continuum, we have all had regrets over missed opportunities.
But perhaps one of the greatest blown opportunities is found in Numbers 13. That is the chapter where Moses sends out 12 spies to reconnoiter the Promised Land. Israel is perched on the border of the land and before they move forward, Moses wants some boots on the ground to bring back a firsthand report of the prospects the land holds. For forty days, the spy team wanders the land incognito simply to observe what they might observe in order to come back to Moses and give him their impressions. This event becomes a template for missed opportunities borne out in three words: grapes, giants, grasshoppers.
First their report said, there are “grapes” there. And these were no common grapes. The spies came back with a fantastic report of the plenty in the land. As an example of the plenty, the spies brought back with them one cluster of grapes that was so huge it was borne up on a pole stretched between the shoulders of two men. This land was indeed a land flowing with milk and honey filled with produce like pomegranates and figs. It had everything necessary to sustain the nation of Israel; water, pastures, fruits, nuts, etc. There was an astounding abundance that the land afforded. Israel would not grow hungry there!
Now, had the report stopped there the campaign to possess the land would have begun right then and there. Their journey from Egypt to invasion of the Promised Land would have happened well within two years. But as we know, that did not happen. Why? It is because:
The second point to their report was “giants” (v. 33). There were giants in the land. They said the “descendants of Anak” dwelt there (v. 28). The Hebrew word for “anak” means neck and alludes to the great height of the inhabitants of the land (v. 33). These “giants” lived in fortified cities and were very strong (v. 28). This was all exaggeration born out of fear rather than faith.
Then, the third point of their report was… “grasshoppers” (v. 33). When they compared themselves to the inhabitants of the land, they seemed to themselves to be grasshoppers. As a result, the spies (except for Caleb and Joshua) gave a disparaging (evil) report of the land. They said Israel could not go up against these people in their fortified cities. They feared they would be “devoured” should they go in to inhabit the land. And so they discouraged the hearts of the people. Even though Caleb and Joshua affirmed that they were well able to take the land, the people sided with the pessimistic outlook of the remaining spies.
Well, we know the rest of the story; how that Israel was then condemned to wander in the wilderness for 40 years… one year for every day the spies spent in the land… until all the adults from 20 years upward died in that wilderness.
2019 is upon us. We will be faced with many opportunities to act in faith and move forward for the Lord. The prospects of “possessing those lands” can be summed up in the word “grapes”. The grapes of God’s blessings reside in those opportunities. But that does not mean that there are not giants and fortified cities in those opportunities. But let us not so focus on the giants that we consider ourselves but grasshoppers. Instead, we should see ourselves ministering “in all his might” to be able to conquer whatever giants might be present in these grape filled opportunities.
Don’t miss the opportunities of 2019 because you get your eyes upon the giants instead of God. Don’t think of yourself as a helpless “grasshopper” but as a Promised Land possessor because you trust God for ultimate accomplishment of his will in your life this year. I hope each and every one will enjoy a truly Happy New Year in Christ as we approach the Promised Land of 2019.