Of God and grasshoppers:
“But Caleb quieted the people before Moses and said, “Let us go up at once and occupy it, for we are well able to overcome it.”Then the men who had gone up with him said, “We are not able to go up against the people, for they are stronger than we are.” So they brought to the people of Israel a bad report of the land that they had spied out, saying, “The land, through which we have gone to spy it out, is a land that devours its inhabitants, and all the people that we saw in it are of great height. And there we saw the Nephilim (the sons of Anak, who come from the Nephilim), and we seemed to ourselves like grasshoppers, and so we seemed to them. Then all the congregation raised a loud cry, and the people wept that night.”
This is not the main text, but I will begin here. Lord willing you will understand why by the end.
The children of Israel had the promise of God that He would give them the land. He did not send them into the land for them to see whether they could take it or not, but to see what they had been promised. What should have been a source of rejoicing was a source of dejection and lead to the death of an entire generation save two people. Many a message has been preached on how their unbelief kept them from entering, and how we need to take our eyes of the problem and fix them on The LORD. This is not what I wish to discuss today. I want to direct your attention to the last verse of chapter 13 and first verse of 14. “And there we saw the Nephilim (the sons of Anak, who come from the Nephilim), and we seemed to ourselves like grasshoppers, and so we seemed to them. Then all the congregation raised a loud cry, and the people wept that night.”
Now, it is true the response of the nation was not one of faith in God. And it is true that they doubted God and did not take Him at His Word. But I want to speak about their perception and the response they had to it. Again, let me give a disclaimer, that in the whole scheme of what had happened, their response to the situation was absolutely wicked. This is not being disputed. But I want to zoom in on a segment of the situation and show you how their response was completely appropriate. Let me give you a passage of scripture that takes the same perspective I am attempting to present. Ecclesiastes 1 “The words of the Preacher,the son of David, king in Jerusalem. Vanity of vanities, says the Preacher, vanity of vanities! All is vanity. What does man gain by all the toil at which he toils under the sun?”
Solomon speaks of life being empty and futile, but this is all spoken concerning life apart from God. Solomon uses the phrase “Under the sun” to keep us in the perspective that he is describing life as what it is without God. All of what he says is true of the man’s life who has not God. When life is viewed apart from God it loses all meaning and fulfillment. It’s purpose is gone, and man becomes no different than a dog in that he lives and dies and is forgotten. Solomon takes the perspective of the futility of life and says there is nothing under the sun but for a man to live happily and enjoy life all his days for after this he dies. Taking the context in which he is speaking this is a proper response for one who is without God.
That being said, look at what the Israelite people said and their response. They saw themselves as grasshoppers in compared to their enemies and realized that their enemies viewed them in such a manner as well. This perception didn’t spur them to rush into the battle, it didn’t fill them with shouts of acclamation that they could squash their opponents with their little finger. It caused them to weep! It paralyzed them as they thought about the certain destruction that would fall on them if they were to meet the enemy! It made all the pleasures the land had to offer seem mundane, and the milk and honey of the land became bland at the prospect of certain doom. They saw themselves as grasshoppers and became weak in the knees! They lost all heart, and all confidence fled. They saw how powerless they were before the strength of their enemies and their hearts melted within them. They were consumed with fear!
I want you to get this picture. They were convinced that they were absolutely powerless and defeated. They saw that they were nothing more than grasshoppers in the sight of the inhabitants of the land – and they dare not approach them!
Now turn to the text – Isaiah 40:22 “It is he who sits above the circle of the earth,
and its inhabitants are like grasshoppers; who stretches out the heavens like a curtain, and spreads them like a tent to dwell in;”
What does this verse say about the inhabitants of the earth? Grasshoppers! We are but grasshoppers! It is easy for us to think of “them” but don’t forget that you are an inhabitant of the earth. Why are your knees not knocking? Why has your heart not become wax within you? Is it because you don’t believe i?! Examine the response of the children of Israel when they truly saw themselves as grasshoppers before men. Now look at yourself. We are not speaking of man to man, but man to God! The Almighty, Whose wrath is a consuming fire!
See how Isaiah describes him:
“Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand
and marked off the heavens with a span,
enclosed the dust of the earth in a measure
and weighed the mountains in scales
and the hills in a balance?
Who has measured the Spirit of the Lord,
or what man shows him his counsel?
Whom did he consult,
and who made him understand?
Who taught him the path of justice,
and taught him knowledge,
and showed him the way of understanding?
Behold, the nations are like a drop from a bucket,
and are accounted as the dust on the scales;
behold, he takes up the coastlands like fine dust.
Lebanon would not suffice for fuel,
nor are its beasts enough for a burnt offering.
All the nations are as nothing before him,
they are accounted by him as less than nothing and emptiness.
To whom then will you liken God,
or what likeness compare with him?
An idol! A craftsman casts it,
and a goldsmith overlays it with gold
and casts for it silver chains.
He who is too impoverished for an offering
chooses wood that will not rot;
he seeks out a skillful craftsman
to set up an idol that will not move.
Do you not know? Do you not hear?
Has it not been told you from the beginning?
Have you not understood from the foundations of the earth?
It is he who sits above the circle of the earth,
and its inhabitants are like grasshoppers;
who stretches out the heavens like a curtain,
and spreads them like a tent to dwell in;
who brings princes to nothing,
and makes the rulers of the earth as emptiness.
Scarcely are they planted, scarcely sown,
scarcely has their stem taken root in the earth,
when he blows on them, and they wither,
and the tempest carries them off like stubble.”
It is before this GOD that you are a grasshopper! Yet our minds raise objections. “God is love!” “God is merciful!” “God doesn’t hate men!” We have developed an idol in our minds and named it god! We have created a loving, sappy, paternal figure that is just aching over the sin that we are bound in, and is consumed with attempting to free us from all those hurtful things if we would only permit him to do so. We have successfully made “Sin” the bad guy and us the victim. It is true that we are slaves, but we are such willingly. We love our sin, our hearts are full of it, and although we don’t always like the effects of it, we would rather die than leave it! We are born enemies of the God Who gives us our every breath – and we don’t tremble. We are told of His power and view His majesty and strength all in creation and we don’t tremble. We see the burning sun, sustained by His Word, and we don’t tremble. We see awesome storms and catastrophes created by The Almighty and we have no fear of Him. The demons are better than we, for they believe and tremble. We read Scripture and twist it to fit our felt needs. We have made His Word nothing more than a strategy book by which to live life and be free from problems. We think God is only as relevant as He gives me what I long for. Those who don’t use it for health, wealth, and prosperity; utilize it for morality, decency, and nominal Christianity.We have conditioned ourselves to only see what builds our self-image – “For God so loved the world that He gave…!” This is true, but somehow we interpret that to show how valuable we are to God. It’s not our value, but our wickedness that is manifested in the death of Christ. We have elevated us as the sole purpose for which God exists, and the motive behind all He does. We have changed the well known catechism “Q: What is the chief end of man? A: To glorify God and enjoy Him forever” to “Q: What is the chief end of God? To worship man by doing all for his well being.” We are some pretty big grasshoppers!
Are you trembling yet? You rush into prayer as a kid would burst into a candy store assuming that all he desires can be his. No regard to the store owner. He is the Almighty God! Even David, the man after God’s own heart asked God to give ear to his petitions. (Psalm 141:1-2) We “worship” and our hearts are no where near bowing before The LORD. We are nothing! The God-enthralled king of Israel also said, “What is man that you are mindful of Him?” David didn’t presume he could rush in, why are we so foolish as to do so? We know next to nothing of God. And when we do begin to see Him in His Word we shut the book, a bit discomfited at the God we find described in it’s pages.
We are foolish!! May God cause us to tremble before His holiness! The fear of The LORD is the beginning of wisdom! May God be merciful to us grasshoppers, causing us to fear Him.
Soli Deo Gloria