It (the land of the people of Ammon) is also counted as alandofRephaim. Rephaim formerly lived there – but the Ammonites call them Zamzummin – a people great and many, and tall as the Anakim; but the Lord destroyed them before the Ammonites, and they dispossessed them and settled in their place.

Deuteronomy 2: 20, 21


Alright, this is a strange account of an obscure event that is a part of a very ancient history. This is a side note in Moses’ recounting of the history of his people and their relationship with God over the past forty years. This was a time of exile from the promised land ofIsrael’s future. The Israelites had come so very close to this long anticipated place of national settling-in when they had determined that the task at hand was impossible. The people who were in the land were well armed and fierce giants. It seems that they completely forgot everything that God had done for them and all of the ways that He had preserved them from harm. Every one of the people in this wandering band had experienced God’s hand of provision and protection, for they had relied upon it for the essential items of survival. They all would have been aware of the story of how they had been released fromEgyptand protected from a grief enraged Pharaoh by God’s direct actions. Yet, they doubted Him. They allowed fear to overcome their will to obey God and follow His will. Still, God cared for them.


Now Moses reminds them that the thing that intruded into their willingness to trust God was, in fact, something that God had already taken care of in a territory near by. I think that there are at least two main points for us in our world to consider here. Although I am not traveling in the company of a couple of million of my closest family members and friends, and I am not concerned with finding pasture and water for my herds of sheep and goats, I am engaged in the process of taking land away from dangerous giants. God’s mission for His people has not changed all that much in these past hundreds of years. We are also still asked to face our fears and to respond to God’s call to trust Him. Every day brings about new opportunities to have faith in the Lord and step forward or to focus on the perceived danger and retreat. We get to choose.


Unfortunately, on far too many occasions I have decided to focus on my own capabilities and to choose fear instead of possession. So, herein lays the other main point of this story. The Israelites had done the same thing, and God was granting them another chance to go where He wanted them to go and to do what He was directing them to do. Even when I have failed to enter in, run away, and cowered in fear of those giants, God continues to call me to engage His work. He never leaves me stranded and alone in the wilderness of my own fear and failure. Instead, the Lord grants me a new perspective, a renewed understanding of His purpose, and opportunities to claim lands for His kingdom and glory. The land of promise is there before us, and God calls His people to boldly enter in and to trust completely in His victory.