We saw the Nephilim there. We seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes, and we looked the same to them.”Num. 13:33
At the end of forty days the Israelite spies returned from exploring the land (Num. 13:25). During those forty days they had traveled throughout the land, had seen its people, and collected its fruit. In fact, the fruit was so great that two men had to carry a cluster of grapes on a pole between them (Num. 13:23). They came back and reported to all the people and showed them the fruit of the land proclaiming, “it does flow with milk and honey! Here is its fruit” (Num. 13:26-27).
Indeed, the land was flowing with milk and honey!
The spies had seen and brought back the evidence of God’s faithfulness, they had tasted His promise, but not all came back in faith.
Just as forty years in the desert did not make a spiritual people, forty days in luxury did not nurtured faith in the spies. Twelve spies went into the land, but ten came back filled with fear and apprehension. Even though they saw that the land flowed with milk and honey, they focused on the people of the land and were afraid.
Not so our Lord. As He approached his last days on earth, “Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem” (Luke 9:51). The cross was not a place of milk and honey, but of persecution, a place of suffering. Yet Jesus did focus on the cross itself or the pain in that place. He looked beyond it to what would come from His work. Looking to the “the joy set before Him [He] endured the cross, scorning its shame” Heb. 12:2.
This is our hope for overcoming the trials we face—we must look beyond now, beyond the present trials to the “hope set before us.” Any other way leads to certain despair.
If we have only the cross without the resurrection and ascension, we are left with a rabble of depressed fishermen who mumble incessantly about “what could have been,” or “if only.” In stead, with the cross we have the resurrection and the ascension of Jesus. We also see Him sitting at the Father’s right hand—the place of power (Heb. 12:2). On any given day we can we are prone to say, “Here is its fruit!” and in the next moment collapse in tears and worry for our very lives. But the land was flowing with milk and honey and Christ has risen. Now we can scorn the shame brought by the world in its disbelief and “fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith” who is the only way to the Father (Heb. 12:2).