Small Group Topic #1
More Than Grasshoppers
This topic is based on the book, “More Than Grasshoppers: Reclaiming Your God-Given Identity.” by Lee Ann Alexander and Joel Alexander.
If ever there was a time in history when God directly revealed his power, it was when he brought the children of Israel out of Egypt through Moses. The Israelites saw 10 plagues brought on Egypt, they left, only to find a sea in front of them and an army behind. God made a miraculous way of escape by parting the Red Sea for them to cross on dry land. Hollywood has tried to portray these events at various times, but the scale of the Exodus is hard to imagine. Exodus 12, says that 600,000 fighting men and their families. Estimates put the total number of people at 2 – 2.5 million at a time when the entire population of Egypt was somewhere around 4.5 million. God placed a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. Yes, the children of Israel had seen God’s hand move mightily.
This brings us to our scripture setting, they crossed the desert and arrived at Canaan. God ordered Moses to send men to scout out the land that he had promised Abraham and was now giving to them. So, for 40 days the CIA (Covert Israelite Agents) scouted the land between the Mediterranean and the Jordan River and it was everything that it was promised to be; a land flowing with milk and honey. Ah, but the people in the land – there’s the rub. Have you ever noticed how most of our problems are people problems? It was the same for the Israelites. They had giant people problems, specifically, the descendants of Anak. The spies were despondent and afraid. They said that the people of the land were strong with large fortified cities. So, Caleb interrupts and says “We must go up and take possession of the land because we can certainly conquer it!” It makes you wonder if the other spies felt a little betrayed at that. Thinking, “Uh, Caleb, we talked about this. These are big, scary guys with massive cities. We can’t do it.” They encountered the enemy, the potential conquest, and their own fears. They did the math, and their true self-image affected the sum total: “We are but grasshoppers.” And with that, ten men sealed the fate of their generation as wanderers who could not receive God’s promise of triumph and abundance.
You can almost sympathize with the spies. Their report was not untruthful, but it also betrayed their fear. To make matters worse, they also went among the people spreading their fear and pessimism. They said, “To ourselves we seemed like grasshoppers and we must have seemed the same to them. Not only did the spies feel they were puny and insignificant, but they projected that their enemies felt the same way about them.
The irony is that when a group of these insects work together they are unstoppable. They can totally devastate a land. When a grasshopper enters its swarming phase, we call them locusts. These same spies had seen what locusts could do when they were in Egypt and God had sent them to plague the land.
When the spies and the people trusted in the ability of the Canaanites over and above that of the living God, the result was fear. They accepted the will of the Canaanites over the will of God. Israel esteemed man over God, and so usurped God’s throne. How quickly they forgot God’s ability. And perhaps even more importantly, they failed to see the abilities that God had put in them. Could it be they had no vision for the conquering army God had made them to be?
This tension between faith and fear reveals something powerful about our own identity: Who we are is determined not only in who we think we are, but also all that is contained in our understanding of who God is and who He has created us to be. Once we understand our true identity in Jesus, we will reflect that identity to the world and be able to advance God’s kingdom. The bible gives us guidelines to begin understanding our nature through Christ:
- God makes good things. Mark 7:37
- God handcrafted us in his image. Genesis 1:27
- God loves us and sees value in us. John 3:16
- When we are baptized in His name and filled with His Spirit, we are restored to intimate relationship with Him and are led by His Spirit. Romans 5; Romans 8:14
- God empowers us with both personal talents and spiritual gifts. Romans 8:37
Grasshoppers? Compared to our omnipotent savior, yes. God wants us to have a healthy identity in Him. As we learn of our identity in Him we realize we are more than grasshoppers!
Scriptures: (Holman Christian Standard Bible)
“Send men to scout out the land of Canaan I am giving to the Israelites. Send one man who is a leader among them from each of their ancestral tribes.” Numbers 13:2
See what the land is like, and whether the people who live there are strong or weak, few or many. Numbers 13:18 They reported to Moses: “We went into the land where you sent us. Indeed it is flowing with milk and honey, and here is some of its fruit. Numbers 13:27
However, the people living in the land are strong, and the cities are large and fortified. We also saw the descendants of Anak there. Numbers 13:28
The Amalekites are living in the land of the Negev; the Hittites, Jebusites, and Amorites live in the hill country; and the Canaanites live by the sea and along the Jordan.” Numbers 13:29
Then Caleb quieted the people in the presence of Moses and said, “We must go up and take possession of the land because we can certainly conquer it!” Numbers 13:30
But the men who had gone up with him responded, “We can’t go up against the people because they are stronger than we are!” Numbers 13:31
So they gave a negative report to the Israelites about the land they had scouted: “The land we passed through to explore is one that devours its inhabitants, and all the people we saw in it are men of great size. Numbers 13:32
We even saw the Nephilim there — the descendants of Anak come from the Nephilim! To ourselves we seemed like grasshoppers, and we must have seemed the same to them.” Numbers 13:33
They were extremely astonished and said, “He has done everything well! He even makes deaf people hear, and people unable to speak, talk!” Mark 7:37
God saw all that He had made, and it was very good. - Genesis 1:31
So God created man in His own image; He created him in the image of God; He created them male and female. Genesis 1:27
“For God loved the world in this way: He gave His One and Only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life. - John 3:16
All those led by God’s Spirit are God’s sons. Romans 8:14
No, in all these things we are more than victorious through Him who loved us. - Romans 8:37