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Navigating The Valley of Decision

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So they went up and explored the land from the wilderness of Zin as far as Rehob, near Lebo-hamath. Going north, they passed through the Negev and arrived at Hebron, where Ahiman, Sheshai, and Talmai--all descendants of Anak--lived. (The ancient town of Hebron was founded seven years before the Egyptian city of Zoan.) When they came to the valley of Eshcol, they cut down a branch with a single cluster of grapes so large that it took two of them to carry it on a pole between them! They also brought back samples of the pomegranates and figs. That place was called the valley of Eshcol (which means "cluster"), because of the cluster of grapes the Israelite men cut there. -- Numbers 13: 21-24 (NLT) 


Life is made up of a series of choices which we must make. The direction our lives head in is based upon these choices; these decisions. Some are of little to no consequence while others determine who we are to become for decades if not generations in our families. I have written before about how God seeks to be the God of our decisions, not just our problems. That is we could ever learn to rely upon God during the decision making process we would find ourselves with far fewer problems in this life. Today we will turn to the Valley of Decision the Israelites faced just outside the Promised Land. It was also known as the Valley of Eschol; explained in the key verses. Within the story behind these verses are some keys for us today to consider as we face our Valley of Decision.


The backdrop is this -- God had promised to the Israelites a land flowing with milk and honey. He had delivered them from 400 years of slavery in Egypt. Similarly, God has delivered us from the slavery and bondage of sin and this world when we turned to Him as our Lord and Savior. The Israelites watched as God defeated the Egyptians at the parting of the Red Sea. They watched as God led them as a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. They watched as God provided them with manna from heaven to sustain them and even quail when they complained of a lack of variety. Likewise, we too have watched as God has provided supernaturally in our lives. He has led us likewise day and night. He has defeated the foes that were chasing us. He has sustained us in all we need. As with the Israelites, He is taking us on a journey to a land He has promised us. The Bible says that He has prepared great works for us to do; in advance. The eternal life is the abundant life Jesus promised us. Sometimes we find ourselves in the Valley of Eschol; on the outskirts of the Promised Land. It is a place where decisions must be made in our lives. Big and important decisions. The type of decisions that will forge who we are in this life. This is where we find our key verses today. This is where we may find ourselves today as well. What can we learn from this story in our own decision making process?


First of all, the decision is usually not an easy one and there are giants in the way. The descendents of Anak were in fact a race of giants that lived during this time. The Philistine Goliath is said to be a descendent of Anak as well so going by that story these giants were at least 10 feet tall. Now, of the 12 spies who were sent out, ten returned with a very negative report:


But the men who had gone up with him said, "We can't attack those people; they are stronger than we are." And they spread among the Israelites a bad report about the land they had explored. They said, "The land we explored devours those living in it. All the people we saw there are of great size. We saw the Nephilim there (the descendants of Anak come from the Nephilim). We seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes, and we looked the same to them." -- Numbers 13: 31-33 (NIV)


I always key in on the last line of these verses where the ten spies admit that in their own eyes they seemed like grasshoppers. This is the second lesson for us today. This is what the giants in our lives will do to us. They will instill a fear in us about their strength and reduce our own abilities in our own eyes. When we are in the Valley of Decision the enemy will make the smallest things seem like giants to us by reducing who we believe we are. We will look upon what we have to face as being insurmountable even though the Bible says our faith can move entire mountains. His goal is to muddy our decision. His goal is to get us to either forget what God has promised or to make the enemies we face larger than the God we serve in our own eyes. Fast forward hundreds of years and we find the shepherd boy David delivering cheese to his older brothers on the battlefield. There was a giant there that day too named Goliath. To the fighting men of Israel he was too big for them to fight. I am sure we can all relate that sometimes the things that come up against us in the Valley of Decision are simply too big to tackle. David however did not focus on the size of the enemy -- instead he focused on the size of His God; just like Caleb and Joshua, the remaining two spies from the Valley of Eschol:


Joshua son of Nun and Caleb son of Jephunneh, who were among those who had explored the land, tore their clothes and said to the entire Israelite assembly, "The land we passed through and explored is exceedingly good. If the Lord is pleased with us, he will lead us into that land, a land flowing with milk and honey, and will give it to us. Only do not rebel against the Lord. And do not be afraid of the people of the land, because we will swallow them up. Their protection is gone, but the Lord is with us. Do not be afraid of them." -- Numbers 14: 6-9 (NIV)


Do you notice the stark differences in the reports? The ten focused on the giants and never mentioned God at all. Joshua focused on God and barely mentioned the people in the land. Why? Because they do not matter to someone who has faith in God! What are we focusing on when we find ourselves in the Valley of Decision? The problems and obstacles or the God we have believed in? This is the third lesson today -- the Valley of Decision requires a focus on God, not on your surroundings. The devil will use whatever he can to distract you in the valley. He will raise up giants that will make us feel like grasshoppers in our own eyes. It matters not. What matters is the size of the God we serve; as the shepherd boy David explained to Goliath:


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