Date: 5 April 2020 | Pre­a­cher:
Series: | Bible text: Deu­te­ro­no­my 4:13–14
Hint: This ser­mon has been machi­ne trans­la­ted. Plea­se note that we can­not accept any respon­si­bi­li­ty for the accu­ra­cy of the content.

«Giants are also only dwarfs», from Caleb, the cou­ra­ge­ous spy of God. With the help of the Holy Spi­rit, I want to make it clear to my lis­ten­ers that we can be cou­ra­ge­ous on the road with God, becau­se huge chal­lenges beco­me small from his perspective.


The ser­mon is pre­ce­ded by a short film:


Let’s be honest and hand on heart. – Who among you would have dared to go to the cine­ma with this com­pa­ny? It takes a lot of cou­ra­ge and guts, does­n’t it? I mys­elf would have been pret­ty quea­sy with so many tough guys in one room. Just the sight and the num­ber of the­se some­what weird guys and then the fan­ta­sy of my thoughts, what could hap­pen now, would have made me run out of the room pret­ty quick­ly ;). It takes a lot of cou­ra­ge to take the last two free seats like the last cou­ple and stay the­re for a who­le film? Based on the sto­ry of Caleb, one of the 12 Israe­li spies who are sup­po­sed to spy out the pro­mi­sed land of Cana­an, we want to learn not to be inti­mi­da­ted by chal­lenges, so that we can live our Chris­ti­an lives even more cou­ra­ge­ous­ly today through God’s Spi­rit. I have given this morning’s ser­mon the title: «Giants are but dwarfs too», from Caleb the cou­ra­ge­ous spy of God. I will read us extra­cts from the sto­ry in the 4th book of Moses, chap­ters 13–14. I think that the 12 spies must have felt the same way as the cou­ples in the cine­ma when they saw the giant popu­la­ti­on of Cana­an! When you see them and you are in the mino­ri­ty, you can well under­stand that your heart sinks and you get scared?

What is so different about Kaleb?

Only the two God-fea­ring men Caleb and Joshua react like the last cou­ple in the clip and do not want to be dis­sua­ded from their mis­si­on and inten­ti­on! Only Caleb and Joshua have the posi­ti­ve expe­ri­ence at the end of the sto­ry that not­hing bad hap­pens to them in the «cine­ma» or in the pro­mi­sed land! But what is so dif­fe­rent about Caleb? What is so par­ti­cu­lar­ly cou­ra­ge­ous that he does not want to shirk the huge chall­enge of taking the land in spi­te of ever­y­thing? The ans­wer is found in ver­se 24 of chap­ter 14: «The­re is ano­ther spi­rit in Caleb (& Joshua)», than the other 10 scouts. Kaleb is endo­wed with a dif­fe­rent spi­rit, so he has slight­ly dif­fe­rent tools and resour­ces to fall back on. He has some­thing that makes him bra­ve and determined!


The sto­ry beg­ins with the Israe­li­te lea­der Moses com­mis­sio­ning the lea­ders, the chiefs or elders from each tri­be with a spy ser­vice. Becau­se God wants to give the land to the peo­p­le as their pro­per­ty, the­se 12 all bra­ve and expe­ri­en­ced men are sup­po­sed to form the «advan­ce guard», so to speak, and check out the situa­ti­on the­re in the land, that what awaits them. And they are not just some nobo­dies here or some naï­ve young pro­fes­sio­nals. No, they all have pro­ven lea­der­ship qua­li­ties! The­se are real cad­res, and they all come from the top eche­lons… And this fact-fin­ding mis­si­on is real­ly some­thing! Ima­gi­ne that: On ene­my soil, – behind ene­my lines, detail­ed recon­nais­sance of the local living space is to be car­ri­ed out.

What are the soil con­di­ti­ons like? What is the cli­ma­te like the­re? And what is the vege­ta­ti­on like? Are the­re local deve­lo­p­ment plans and how strong is the pro­fes­sio­nal army? The 12 agents have just under 6 weeks, or 40 days, to cover about 600 km. So when God calls staff or gives out any ser­vice assign­ments, it real­ly gets down to the nit­ty grit­ty. But we, today, often recruit staff quite dif­fer­ent­ly, don’t we? We set the level fur­ther down, accor­ding to the mot­to: «You don’t need much com­mit­ment if you help out here! It’s not very time-con­sum­ing eit­her! And you don’t neces­s­a­ri­ly need know­ledge, you’ll grow into it over time…

We very often remain on the human side of the tasks and also the task pro­files. Per­so­nal­ly, howe­ver, I think that God usual­ly chal­lenges us a lot, even overta­xes us, so that we can expe­ri­ence his car­ry­ing us through and his powerful help! God puts a bur­den on us, but he also helps us.… Almost all the figu­res of the Bible, such as Abra­ham, Moses, David, Peter and Paul, can tell us a thing or two about this… It is striking, all the scouts agree: The explo­red land is gre­at! Figu­ra­tively spea­king, it real­ly is the land long pro­mi­sed by God, whe­re milk and honey flow. It has many agri­cul­tu­ral pro­ducts in abun­dance (gra­pes, figs, pome­gra­na­tes) and ever­y­thing is of the best 1a food quality.

The spiritual difference

So far, the­re is not the sligh­test dif­fe­rence in the report­ing bet­ween Kaleb and the other agents. They all per­cei­ve the posi­ti­ve with equal gra­ti­tu­de! And even with the nega­ti­ve side effects and chal­lenges that every task brings, ever­yo­ne agrees. The­re are huge and phy­si­cal­ly very robust inha­bi­tants, the Ana­ki­tes. They all report cities that are dif­fi­cult to cap­tu­re and well for­ti­fied, and on top of that the­re is a huge army of batt­le-har­den­ed sol­diers. The facts are equal­ly on the table for all! In the per­cep­ti­on and the ana­ly­ti­cal obser­va­ti­on of things, ever­y­thing is still in order up to now. But now comes the big dif­fe­rence bet­ween the cou­ra­ge­ous Caleb, endo­wed with God’s Spi­rit, and the others who have beco­me fear­ful in the mean­ti­me. What has hap­pen­ed in the mean­ti­me, I ask mys­elf? The spi­ri­tu­al dif­fe­rence lies in the inter­pre­ta­ti­on of the situa­ti­on! What I see and per­cei­ve with the same eyes can and will be inter­pre­ted com­ple­te­ly dif­fer­ent­ly from per­son to per­son. «Faith is a dif­fe­rent inter­pre­ta­ti­on of the same rea­li­ty. It’s about what con­clu­si­ons I draw from the facts when qua­si over­powe­ring giants, i.e. pro­blems and chal­lenges, stand in my way. It just does­n’t hap­pen easi­ly and smoothly.

While the other 10 doubt whe­ther the own forces will be suf­fi­ci­ent to fight against the huge popu­la­ti­on, Caleb per­haps nai­vely holds on to the pro­mi­se that God will give them the land. pro­mi­sed has. He trusts that God will also per­so­nal­ly take care of them and inter­ve­ne so that they will also get the land.

The 10 scouts compa­re the giants living in the land with them­sel­ves and their own con­di­ti­ons. They compa­re their own qua­li­ties with tho­se of the giants and then ana­ly­se cor­rect­ly: «They don’t have the sligh­test chan­ce against the Canaa­ni­tes and Ana­ki­tes». From a purely human point of view, they are even right! Caleb, howe­ver, is led by God’s Holy Spi­rit, and that is what makes up his faith, his cou­ra­ge and his dif­fe­rent spi­rit. He com­pa­res the giants with his God, he con­fronts the huge chal­lenges – God’s still far grea­ter pos­si­bi­li­ties – and sud­den­ly the giants shrink into themselves.

John Knox, a Scot­tish refor­mer, once said about faith: «that an indi­vi­du­al, tog­e­ther with God, is always in the majo­ri­ty and also supe­ri­or». Caleb’s expe­ri­ence is simi­lar to that of Eli­sha in 2 Kings 6:16, when he is stan­ding with his anxious ser­vant on the city wall in Dotan and on the oppo­si­te side the over­whel­ming lord of the hosti­le Ara­me­ans is encam­ped around the city. Sud­den­ly the servant’s spi­ri­tu­al eyes of his heart are ope­ned and the curtain of the invi­si­ble world is pul­led away so that the two of them see the sky full of fiery cha­ri­ots and steeds. The ques­ti­on here is: What points of refe­rence deter­mi­ne your thin­king and per­cep­ti­on in dif­fi­cult life situa­tions? What are you loo­king at? Antoine de St. Exu­pery puts it this way: «One sees well only with the heart» and the pro­phet Samu­el is told in 1 Sam. 16:9: «That a man sees only what is befo­re his eyes!» See­ing, I once heard, means pre­fer­ring! Today we speak of sel­ec­ti­ve perception.

The giants

We most­ly see what is on our minds any­way: Pregnant women incre­asing­ly see other pregnant women and fear­ful peo­p­le see some dan­ger lur­king around every cor­ner. About 1200 years later, the Let­ter to the Hebrews in the NT ch. 13, 6 says «that we should never throw away our trust in God, even when dif­fi­cul­ties loom befo­re us». When «giants» stand in our way, we should know that we are always sit­ting on the should­er of an even big­ger giant who car­ri­es and holds us! Now I ask you to think for a moment about the giants in your life that frigh­ten you? What dif­fi­cul­ties and chal­lenges are you facing right now and what is pre­ven­ting you from taking your pro­mi­sed land? What is per­haps kee­ping you from being on God’s mis­si­on and ser­ving Him? Are you more pro­blem- and giant-ori­en­ted and do you compa­re your own strengths with the chal­lenges you face? Or do you have the same cou­ra­ge as Caleb to compa­re your giants with God’s pos­si­bi­li­ties and promises?

Adolf Schlat­ter, a Pro­tes­tant theo­lo­gi­an, once clai­med: «That the Bible abso­lut­e­ly wants to help us to reco­g­ni­se God’s invi­si­ble world as a real exis­ting rea­li­ty». Augus­ti­ne: «Mira­cles are not against natu­re, but only against the natu­re we know! Say God is still grea­ter and always stron­ger than the grea­test chall­enge you can face!» Afri­can pro­verb: «You may tell your God how big your pro­blems are. But after that, you should also tell your pro­blems how gre­at your God is!» Being equip­ped and on the way with God’s spi­rit means for me that I (actual­ly) don’t need to be afraid any­mo­re, becau­se God has not given us the spi­rit of fear, but of love, power and pru­dence! Giants are also only dwarfs when I con­trast them with the omni­po­tence of God.

In the Let­ter to the Romans, Paul claims of hims­elf in the 8th chap­ter: «that he may be assu­red that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor powers, nor things pre­sent, nor things to come, nor things high, nor things low, nor any other crea­tu­re, will be able to sepa­ra­te him from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord». 

I am con­vin­ced that Caleb’s exem­pla­ry cou­ra­ge also lies in the posi­ti­ve expe­ri­en­ces he has had with God so far. Caleb has not for­got­ten how God deli­ver­ed him and a hundred thousand other Israe­li­tes from cap­ti­vi­ty. Caleb draws strength and cou­ra­ge from the memo­ry of God’s gre­at deeds in his life. He does not belitt­le his past expe­ri­en­ces becau­se they may have hap­pen­ed some time ago! He con­scious­ly keeps in mind that God has hel­ped again and again in ear­lier times through indi­vi­du­al mira­cles, and that it is a small thing for him to repeat the­se signs and deeds again and again! Think about whe­re you could mus­ter or prac­ti­se spi­ri­tu­al cou­ra­ge in the next week, the new year?

  • Is the­re an oppor­tu­ni­ty to talk about your faith?
  • With God’s help, can you dare to do some­thing that you would not dare to do yourself?
  • Or whe­re can you per­haps face a pro­blem ins­tead of run­ning away or avo­i­ding ano­ther person?

Being equip­ped with spi­rit and cou­ra­ge means for me to go through life with a new, dif­fe­rent mind­set! Based on Caleb, I learn that I want to rely more on God’s pro­mi­ses than lis­tening to my own inner purely human voice! Paul recom­mends to the Chris­ti­ans in Ephe­sus 4:23: «But renew your­sel­ves in spi­rit and mind». / metanoia/ con­ver­si­on means; «rethin­king – rethin­king» and to the church in Rome he wri­tes 12,2 «Do not con­form your­sel­ves to this world, but be chan­ged by the rene­wing of your mind, that you may pro­ve what is the will of God, that which is good and accep­ta­ble and per­fect». 

To be equip­ped with God’s Spi­rit and His cou­ra­ge does not pri­ma­ri­ly mean to show any pro­of of achie­ve­ment or qua­li­fi­ca­ti­ons, but to look at life and its chal­lenges from God’s per­spec­ti­ve and also to inter­pret them with spi­ri­tu­al eyes of the heart.