Strong Inhabitants of the Land: Seven tribes of Canaanites had become strongly rooted in the land while the Hebrews dwelt in Egypt. These tribes worshipped idols, and any inter-fellowship with them would be like a cancer, spreading the spirit of idolatry to God’s people. God says, if Israel does not drive them out, these enemies will become thorns in their sides and irritants in their eyes (see Num. 33:55). Naturally speaking, these seven nations were “greater and mightier” than Israel, but God promised He would deliver them to the Hebrews (see Deut. 7:1-2). In fact, God specifically says He will drive out the inhabitants by sending hornets over a period of several years and slowly force them out (see Exod. 23:28-30). Arabs have reported that hornets such as these can knock a horse off its feet.
Walled Cities: In ancient times, fortified city walls were made of stone and had large, impregnable gates. On their own, the Hebrews had no way to penetrate these strongly defended walls, but God promised He would place a great fear in the hearts of those living in the walled cities (see Exod. 23:27). This does occur forty years later at the city of Jericho when the two spies are told that men’s hearts fail them for fear after hearing what the Hebrews did to kings Og and Sihon (see Josh. 2:10-11).
Giants: Giants in the land adversely affect the imaginations of the Hebrews who see themselves as grasshoppers in comparison (v. 33). God promises to give the Hebrew men power to expel the giants from their land. Forty years later, Caleb—half the size of these giant men and eighty-five years old—runs off several giants from a mountain he has claimed (compare Num. 13:22 with Josh. 15:14).
OVERCOMING THREE STRONGHOLDS IN OUR LIVES
Believers today encounter these same strongholds as the Israelites long ago. We may not face walled cities or giant people, but we deal with similar barriers to spiritual victory. God has a plan to defeat every stronghold in our lives.
Strong Opposition: At some point in our lives, we will encounter individuals or experience hostile forces whose negative influences will become a thorn in our walk with God, or irritants to our spiritual vision and understanding. The book of Ephesians encourages us to let the eyes of our understanding be enlightened (1:18), that we may know the greatness of God’s mighty power “which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality, and power . . .” (1:20-21).
Walled Cities: From a practical perspective these walled cities represent spiritual barriers that intend to keep blessings out and strongholds in. People often build strongholds within themselves by building interior walls of bitterness, unforgiveness, and strife. Just as the walls of Jericho fell when the Israelites marched in obedience to God’s direction to encircle the walls with the Ark of the Lord and to blow trumpets and shout, our internal walls can collapse when we focus on bringing the power of God into our lives and allowing the anointing to break the yoke of a stronghold (see Josh. 6:1-20; Isa. 10:27).
Giants: Giants represent problems that form negative mental images in our minds and appear too large for us to conquer. We must cast down “imaginations and every high thing” that exalts itself against the knowledge of God and bring into captivity “every thought to the obedience of Christ” (2 Cor. 10:5).