障碍（巨人）→ 恐惧 → 埋怨 → 受害者心态 → 背叛 → 奴隶光景
障碍（巨人）→ 恐惧 → 承认自己需要神 → 抓紧应许 → 邀请他临在 → 得着自由
The Greatest Giant
“God’s presence and power are far greater than the giants of our fear.”
Last week we talked about grapes and giants, and how easy it is to miss the grapes of God’s promise because of blustering, intimidating giants. At this critical time in Hong Kong’s history, God offers us through Jesus a different spirit that brings healing and hope to a broken and dispirited world. We are able to walk forward, heads held high, living in a different spirit before a watching and weary world.
But there is one giant in the Promised Land that has the power to freeze the church in its tracks, fill us with doubt and confusion, and force us to retreat into the shadows of irrelevancy and despondency. It is the giant of fear. This emotion has gripped our city since the onset of the social movement, Covid, and the National Security Law. We Christians are also wrestling with fear.
If we are to live with a different spirit, we must face our fears. And that begins with understanding several things:
1) Fear is a God-given emotion and is not evil in itself. Fear protects us from danger and harm. Fear often keeps us safe and alive.
2) There are two types of fears: rational fears and irrational fears. Both are important, and both have power. Discerning which we are dealing with will go a long way to helping us face our fears and process them in productive ways. The enemy loves to take rational fears and so amplify and distort them that we ultimately become afraid of something that simply isn’t there.
3) Because fear is a natural emotion that arises through circumstances in our lives, we will never be completely free from fear. The Christian life is not about being free from fear, it’s about not being a slave to fear. Those with a different spirit are not those who are free from fear, but those who have learnt to not let fear ultimately determine their destination.
You will recall from what I shared in last week’s article that Israel is camped before the Promised Land and Moses has sent twelve spies to bring back a report about the land. The twelve return with a two-fold report of the land. On the one hand it is filled with God’s promises and fruitfulness (the grapes). But on the other it has fortified cities and massive people (the giants).
Ten spies focus on the problems of the land and spread a fearful report. “We cannot move forward and conquer it.” Two spies focus on the fruitfulness of the land and on God’s power. “We can indeed conquer this land.”
There are indeed obstacles in the land. The cities are fortified and the people are well prepared for battle. Their fear is rational. Giants are big and scary. But this rational fear soon becomes irrational. “The giants are so huge that we are like grasshoppers.” Suddenly the fruitfulness of the land is forgotten in the grip of the irrational fear created by this exaggerated bad report.
But as is so often the case in life, the majority report wins the day and Israel as a whole becomes gripped in fear. Their long and painful trek through the wilderness has come to nothing. They are overwhelmed by the giants. The grapes mean nothing. They first grumble, then weep. They are thinking mutiny. They want to find a new leader to replace Moses and take them back to Egypt. Their irrational fear makes them ready to kill Moses and go back into slavery (Numbers 14:1-4).
Is this happening to us in Hong Kong and around the world? So much of the news feeds on our social media is fear-mongering and fear-inducing. We become fearful of something that isn’t actually true. The amount of irrational fear that is created by mass public opinion, not based on fact or objective truth, has become a social commodity of our times. And fear is the currency of choice. If you want to motivate a group of people to do something, fear will get you there a lot faster than love.
Fear creates a victim mentality in us. Our fear wants us to blame someone else for our circumstance. And we become victims. It is their fault, and our fear is a result of their actions. We look for a scapegoat to blame rather than take responsibility for our own emotions and feelings. Blaming others gives us temporary relief in the middle of a fear crisis, but it creates more destruction and pain. It breaks relationships, destroys unity, and creates deepening division in a community. Like the Israelites we even begin to blame God. “Why is the Lord bringing us to this land only to let us fall by the sword?” This is what happens when fear goes unchecked in our lives. It ultimately leads us to rebel against God. And when this happens, we will always find ourselves heading away from freedom and towards slavery.
Let me summarise all of this through a diagram of what I call the fear cycle as seen in Numbers 14:1-4:
How can we break this cycle of fear and blame? How can we avoid becoming whimpering victims who rebel against God?
At this dramatic moment in our story, Moses and Aaron fall face down in front of the whole assembly of Israel—not to show submission to the people but to show their submission to God. When the Israelites want to kill Moses and Aaron and return to slavery in Egypt, Moses and Aaron throw themselves before God, acknowledging they don’t know how to respond in any other way than to declare their need for God. They physically demonstrate a shift from a fear of giants to a fear of the Lord.
While Moses and Aaron are face down on the floor, Caleb and Joshua stand up and address the people. “The land we passed through and explored is exceedingly good.” They magnify not the giants but the grapes. God’s promises are more powerful than the giants. “The Lord is with us. Do not be afraid!” (v 9) They tried to move the people from a cycle of fear to a cycle of faith. They challenge the people to remember God’s promises and all he has done for them in the past. If they are willing to give their fears to God, they can find freedom because God’s presence and power is far greater than the giants of their fear.
We have this same opportunity in Hong Kong today, to break the cycle of fear by embracing the cycle of faith as seen in Numbers 14:5-9.
The obstacles are still present, and these obstacles still create fear in us. But in faith we move in a different direction than before. Where fear leads us to complaining and grumbling, we instead acknowledge our need, face down before God. We recognise our emotions and invite God to meet us there. Where fear leads us to blame others and make ourselves a victim, we instead claim the promises of God. Where fear leads us to rebel against God and return to slavery, we instead move toward God by inviting his presence to be with us in our fear. This, and only this, can bring us to true freedom.
Will we as the church in Hong Kong in this hour allow fear to drive us away from our inheritance in this land? Or will we face our fear and declare that the land is still exceedingly good, and that God’s promises are far greater than the giants we face?
Jesus is called Immanuel, God with us, for a reason. Jesus is with us. Always. And because he is, we can overcome our fears.
Break the cycle of fear, and walk forward boldly in faith!