"To ourselves we seemed like grasshoppers, and we must have seemed the same to them." Numbers 14:32b HASB
Men’s Fraternity, the Men’s ministry from Robert Lewis, broached the subject of life with the metaphor of a football game; the first and second halves and how to live a great adventure successfully in both. It is Lewis’ contention that men tend to live one or the other ‘well’ and looks into the Old Testament book of Numbers to find a biblical character who has lived it well in both halves to win the game of life.
Caleb, which means “dog” in Hebrew, but in Akkadian (an extinct Semitic language, part of the greater Afro-asiatic language family, that was spoken in ancient Mesopotamia) it means “Loyal vassal of the King.” Lewis tells us that Caleb is a ‘half-breed,’ either by birth or adoption, because his father is Jephunneh the Kenizzite (Joshua 14:6). Kenaz, the ancestor who the Kenizzite people is traced, was the son of Eliphaz (eldest son of Esau) and one of the twelve rulers of Edom. The people were not Israelite, and by the patriarch’s history with Isaac (Israel), the Kenizzites were most likely enemies of the Israelite nation…it is known that they lived in the land of Canaan, the land which God had given to the Jewish people. Yet Caleb is becomes an example to God’s people. He advocates with Joshua, another one of the twelve spies sent into the Promised Land, that the people should take the land given to them by God, that the abundance and wealth can be theirs despite the inhabitants. They are almost stoned.
It is that phrase that is left at the end of that tale, given by the ten other dissenters from the encouragement of the two spies that hit me between the eyes today as I left the study. And it was one of the men there that caused it to ‘stick in my craw’ as I stumped down the stairs into the snowy ‘wonderland’ that Michigan is today. “Grasshoppers among Nephilims” Insects among giants.
The man in the group, younger than I by probably ten years, the head of a young family said that he respected me and the testimony I had, the fact that I was willing and full of a passion to mentor other men and pursue God even in the darkness. I was stunned, and as I thought of the biblical verses that we studied Caleb in today during the Fraternity, I keep coming across the woeful attitude of the ten…..grasshoppers among giants.
I am surrounded by good and bad Nephilims (in relation to the size) and the ‘good giants’ that I know don’t even know how small I am….and honestly, even with the good ones, I’d like to keep it that way. Usually when I bring notice to my size, I’m trampled quickly.
Be it the giant of Acute Depression, Financial failures, Unemployment, Wounded Fatherhood, Desperate Manhood….to name a few of the giants that haunt my landscape, I am but a tiny insect….unnoticed until I begin to disrupt the living of those giants and then I become a pest to be destroyed by the ruler of that land…beaten by the voices that echo the fears in my head before I can even sit in wonder at the bounty of the Promise that God has set before me……
In my younger days, I lived with a Joshua….even though I didn’t know it at the time, for the giants were dominating even then and I have watched others in my life react like the ten…scared and in denial of what God has given (for I have lived life like them too). He was and is a powerful man, both in the spiritual journey God has taken him on and in the world, my brother Larry J Hutson. His wife and he are missionaries with the Navigators over in Germany, ministering to the troops of the Air Force that come through the base there. He is a Joshua, who came back from the spying expedition into the land of Canaan with the overwhelming report of “Conquer, it is ours” and he is the one who leads others into the Promised land. But I digress. With the holiday season upon us, I tend to be a bit reflective. I realize now that my brother wasn’t the Nephilim I thought he was in my younger days, but rather a Joshua who would’ve contributed so much more to my life than he was allowed.
The Father of Lies will get you every time.
Caleb, a young man, points his compass to the “north star” that God is and follows through with a ‘raw faith’ to claim the ‘promise life’, according to Lewis and in the ‘older days’ some 40 years later, demands the right to seize the ‘high ground’ with a ‘fresh faith’ rather than settle in the lower lands. You really have to read the story of Caleb in Numbers and Joshua to understand the parts of his life that Lewis talks of and go through the third year of Men’s Fraternity to see how it fits into a man’s journey…..but Caleb influences another generation by his life, and influences us as well.
Caleb and Joshua, enticed and excited by the land of Promise that God has shown them aren’t confused or frightened by the giants that stomp through the land. They are consumed, fully surrendered to the future, desperate to begin the claiming of what God had set aside for the people of Israel. It would take them many years to realize that, but they stayed committed. Forty years later, Caleb takes the high ground of Hebron and dwells there with his clan…..inspiring another to defy the giants of their life later.
As I look across the river Jordan into the Promise that God has set before me, being told by some I’m nothing more than a grasshopper facing the giants who shall surely finish me off like a pest, do I step into the process of being a Caleb…..empowered and enthused with God’s work that was begun in me and continues on the other side of this place or do I whine like the other ten and say they simply are too big and the land too harsh for me to continue.
Dare I be a grasshopper…….protected and empowered by the might of a giant God?!?!