Caleb stood there frustrated as he listened to the report.
Moses had selected him, along with 11 other men, to be a spy. Their mission? 1) To scout out the land they were to invade for 40 days, and 2) Bring back a report of what they observed.
But the report was not going so well.
They shared the good news first. The land was full of pomegranates, figs, and grapes – all symbolic of the fruitfulness, fertility, and prosperity of the land. It was late July, the time for the first ripe grapes to come in. In fact, they brought in a huge cluster of gorgeous grapes to show the people.
To Caleb, it could only mean one thing. The time was ripe to go in. God was ready for his people to possess the land of Canaan, a land that had been promised to them for over 400 years.
Instead of focusing on the promise, the other spies were more interested in fearmongering and creating doubt.
The Spies’ Report
As Caleb listened, the other spies laid out their worries:
- The swarm of enemies
- The strength of their fortifications
- The size of the giants
It was true. Enemies lived along the coast all the way to the hill country. They were everywhere.
But the first people they would have to face would be the Amalekites. Big deal. They destroyed those guys just a couple of years ago. To top if off, God Himself had promised that he would “utterly blot out the memory of Amalek from under heaven.” (Ex 17:14)
If God could do that, He could take care of the Hittites, Jebusites, Amorites, and all the rest of them too.
And why were they worried about the strength of the fortifications and height of the walls? God single-handedly destroyed the world’s greatest military power at the Red Sea. They had already faced Egypt and won. Who cared about these other “-ites”?
Caleb had enough. He spoke up over the din of the people, calling them to be quiet. The people and the other spies looked at him in surprise. In that silence, Caleb cried out:
Let us go up at once and occupy it, for we are well able to overcome it. – Numbers 13:30
Caleb had chosen his words carefully. They needed to go at once, right now. He wanted to stress not only the immediacy but also the certainty of their mission. The possessing and occupying came first – then the conquering and overcoming.
In other words, God had given them this land. It was for sure. All they had to do was go in and take what was rightfully theirs.
Caleb looked over at the other spies, leveling their stares at him. At once, they began to grumble:
We are not able to go up against the people, for they are stronger than we are. – Numbers 13:31
The spies began to emphasize the danger to the people. Next to the giants, they explained, we look like grasshoppers. We are small, helpless, and insignificant compared to them. That’s why this mission would be impossible, dangerous, and risky.
Maybe you have felt like a grasshopper. Small, helpless, and insignificant. Maybe you’re even hoping that I will write something inspirational next. Something like this:
You are not small. You are big! You are not helpless. You are mightier than you realize! And you are definitely not insignificant. You are the most important and interesting person on the planet. Now that you believe in yourself, nothing is impossible for you!
If that is what you were hoping I would say, you’re wrong.
the brutal truth
The truth of the matter is that you and I are grasshoppers. We are small and helpless, regardless of how much we “believe in ourselves”.
For example, I could tell myself:
Samuel, you can become a linebacker in the NFL if you just believe in yourself. Just train hard, harder than anyone else. Eat more, more than anyone else. And you will become a mighty football player…
…and back to reality. No matter what I do or believe, I am physically incapable of becoming a 300-pound linebacker. I could never receive 30 to 50 hits in one game, equal to being in 2 dozen severe car accidents.
what’s the point?
The reality is that we’re human. That means each one of us us has limitations. We’re grasshoppers.
But that is not the issue. The Hebrew people were missing the point. As God prepared to lead them into Canaan, He was not concerned about their size and significance. Nor was Moses.
Moses could have said something like this to the people:
People, you are so amazing. Never doubt yourself or your abilities. You are not grasshoppers. You are amazing, beautiful, and talented people full of potential. Once you tap into that, there is nothing you cant ‘t do. You are not grasshoppers, my friends. You are giants too.
Wow. That was inspiring. But that is not what Moses said. Instead, he says this:
Do not be in dread or afraid of them. The Lord your God who goes before you will fight for you, just as he did for you in Egypt before your eyes, and in the wilderness, where you have seen how the Lord your God carried you, as a man carries his son, all the way that you went until you came to this place.
Moses says, yes, you are grasshoppers. In fact, God has been fighting your fights. He has been winning your battles. And He is carrying you because you are small and helpless in the face of these giants.
God of the Grasshoppers
God’s purpose is not to make us feel better and bigger but to trust more fully and completely. He wants us to trust Him, the God of the grasshoppers.
So why grasshoppers?
Because God loves to use grasshoppers to accomplish giant things.
In 1 Corinthians 1:27-29, Paul writes:
But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God.
That is us. We are foolish, weak, without strength, broken, and messed up. Yet God uses us, brokenness and all, to accomplish His purposes for His glory.
an impressive win
What if I told you that an Olympian won a gold medal? You would say, “Uh…that’s nice?”
But what if I told you that a visually impaired athlete competing in the 2016 Rio Paralympics won a gold medal in the 1500m final? “That’s cool!,” you say.
But what if I told you that this athlete ran “1.7 seconds faster than Olympic champion Matthew Centrowitz achieved in the men’s 1500m race at the Rio Olympic Games”?  If your response is like mine, you’re saying, “How. Is. That. Possible? Now that is awesome!”
an impressive God
That’s the point. When people with limitations do great things, it amazes us. That is exactly what God is doing with us.
He takes us grasshoppers – limitations and all – and uses us to accomplish great things. Why? So the world would see who He really is…
The God of the Grasshoppers.
God uses grasshoppers to do giant things.