By: Pastor Jarren Rogers
In the medieval world, only the bravest of explorers would venture into the unknown places and untraveled seas. There was so little knowledge of what lay outside of one’s own country or what was beyond the shoreline. Speculation and myth became necessary to describe the unexplored world around them. If it was too dangerous to travel into uninhabited land, there must be a reason why.
This is why it had become common practice to insert monsters into the communal imagination. On medieval maps, unexplored or dangerous places were simply marked with illustrations of sea monsters or mythological creatures. These uncharted areas were commonly described by the words, “Here Be Dragons”.
Many times, the unknown or unexplored tended to evoke the worst-case scenario. This is why, if no one had ventured over the mountains, it was because giant cyclops lived just on the other side.
In truth, this is a common reaction that many of us can relate to. It even happened to the Israelites. It’s in Numbers 13 that they sent spies in the Promised Land to see what it was like. What do we have to look forward to? Exactly how great is the land that God has promised us?
The spies came back and reported:
“We went into the land to which you sent us, and it does flow with milk and honey! Here is its fruit” (Numbers 13:27). They held up giant clusters of grapes. But this seemed to be superseded by the next item of their report: “But the people who live there are powerful, and the cities are fortified and very large” (Numbers 13:28). Here be giants.
It’s clear from what happens next that this threw the Israelites into a panic. It didn’t matter that God has promised them the land of Canaan. It didn’t matter that it flowed with milk and honey. It didn’t matter that there were huge clusters of grapes at every turn. There be giants.
“All the Israelites grumbled against Moses and Aaron, and the whole assembly said to them, ‘If only we had died in Egypt! Or in this wilderness! 3 Why is the Lord bringing us to this land only to let us fall by the sword?’” (Numbers 14:2-3).
The Israelites allowed the monsters of the unknown, blind them from the fruit that the Lord had promised them. Even though God had provided time and time again, the Israelites could only focus on the giants in the land beyond.
Too easily, we can do much of the same. God always seems to call us beyond the mountains and over the unexplored sea. He calls us into the places that may be scary or uncomfortable. He plans for us to walk through lands inhabited with giants who have many different names: pride, anxiety, time, stress, money.
But, just as God promised the Israelites Canaan, He promises us this:
“‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future’” (Jeremiah 29:11).
God is calling you into a land of fruit, milk, and honey. And, sure, there be giants. But we know the God who slays them.