This was definitely the largest boss I had ever faced in any video game to this point. As I stared up at the mountainous enemy I was about to battle, I scanned for signs of a giant glowing spot that would give me some indication of a weak spot to exploit. No such luck. I wasn’t carrying any weapons that looked like that they would make any impact on this behemoth, and nothing in the environment was giving me a clue as to how to approach him either. Oh, the dilemmas inherent in giant hunting…
There is an understated beauty in the simplicity of Shadow of the Colossus. This essential PS2 era experience may not graphically astound today, and the barely-there story may run counter to the dialogue heavy gaming experiences we are now accustomed to, but the bold steps this title takes should not be missed. The lack of any enemies with the exception of the enormous “colossi” who roam the land, each representing a unique and unforgettable boss fight is a tremendous departure from the standard grind most games utilize to pad out their length. From my youth I have been fascinated with the ideas of giants, whether they were human giants such as the iconic Andre the Giant, gargantuan robots like my beloved Voltron, or enormous creatures such as dinosaurs or dragons. Larger than life, they ignite our imaginations as well as challenge our perceptions of reality. So with these thoughts in mind let’s drift back to the era of giants, back in the Old Testament where they were not that uncommon at all.
I have a fairly high level of confidence that most of us are at least moderately familiar with the most famous giant named in the Bible, Goliath of Gath, and his fatal confrontation with David that would change history for both of their countries. What many people may not be as aware of is Goliath’s family tree and how he came to be in Gath in the first place. Very early in the Bible, Genesis 6:4 to be exact, we find the first reference to giant humans being born. When we move forward into Abraham’s pilgrimage they surface again in Genesis 14:5 with unique names based on where they are from. Right now I’m glad this is a blog because I don’t have to pronounce these. They are identified as the Rephaiam, the Zuzim, and the Emim. These groups are specifically identified as giants in Deuteronomy 2, and it is here we find out what happened to them and what their purpose was in these passages.
There are three distinct stories that exist between the lines in each of these giant groupings, and I know I see parts of myself and the wars I have waged in each of thee in some way or another. We have the children of Abraham and the children of Lot, the original travelers towards the Promised Land, each facing their own giants in their approach to their destination. And each has a backstory worthy of exploring and understanding.
JACOB: The most obvious one, he is the second-born son of Isaac and grand-child of Abraham. Through a combination of destiny and trickery Jacob usurped the privileged position of inheriting the birthright from his brother through a con worthy of it’s own column. After impersonating his brother to steal his father’s blessing and then using his ingenuity to con his uncle out of much of his wealth, Jacob has a literal “come to Jesus” moment and begins turning his life the right direction. Renamed “Israel”, his progeny become the Israelite race and head towards their Promised Land with visions of milk and honey dancing in their heads. Unfortunately, their initial reconnaissance revealed the presence of giants in the land that scared off all but two of the spies who viewed the land. It took them forty long years of wilderness wandering to purge those who were too afraid to face the enemies that were ahead from the group, but they eventually made their way into the land of giants and conquered all but the handful that fled and settled into the areas that would eventually give rise to the final giants, Goliath and his brothers.
ESAU/EDOM: The fallen firstborn, all that Jacob had was originally in Esau’s hands to possess but he made a series of critical errors that cost him this path. In fairness, God was not surprised by this turn of events and had actually predicted it before Esau had even taken his first steps towards this path. But these missteps did not remove Esau and his family from God’s plan and his path towards his own “Promised Land”… as a matter of fact this mighty hunter had his share of battles to take Mount Seir, which Deut. 2:5 describes as having been given to the nation of Edom (Esau’s descendants) and that Israel was not to take a single footstep in the land he had defined and separated for Esau. And how did he get this land? We find that answer in verses 21-22, as we see that they had their own battles to occupy the land and that the Lord Himself destroyed their enemies as they progressed on His path, ironically without all of the complaining and moping that was present in the “chosen” Jacob’s path.
MOAB and AMMON: Now here is the most unlikely pair of giant killers on our list. These were the…. how can I put this nicely… the children of the relationships that occurred between the drunken Lot and Lot’s two daughters. Born after the events of Sodom and Gomorrah, Moab and Ammon were the result of a perhaps the most confusing physical lineage in the Bible, as their father was also their grandfather, and their mothers were also their sisters. But their paths were still written by the Lord of the universe, and in spite of their seemingly broken past and embarrassing family secrets He had two specific areas of land full of giants for each of them to conquer and possess as well. In verse 10 we see the path of Moab played out, as they conquered the giants known as the Emim from their land to inherit their destiny, and in verse 20 we see the same happen for the people of Ammon as they eliminated the giants named the Zamzummin from the land and took it for themselves, all through the protection and leadership of the God of the universe.
Sometimes, it is easy to see Him as the God of the “chosen ones”…those who are gifted beyond our ability to understand and blessed in spite of all of their obvious character flaws. But what you may not see is that they will face the same giants as those who come from broken and messed up families, or those who have made critical mistakes that make it look like they have fallen off of their destiny due to the sins of their youth. Each of us have our giants… they inhabit EACH AND EVERY Promised Land. No matter your background, irregardless of your choices, and without any concern for your skills or abilities, there are giants waiting for you as you attempt to enter your place of destiny. They are not here as a punishment, although there are times it may feel that way. They exist in direct opposition between you and your destiny to force you to take the road that people of Esau, Moab, Ammon, and eventually Jacob each had to learn… that of leaning on God and His power to accomplish what he placed into each of their hearts. Not by might, and not by power, but by HIS Spirit.
Just like David in his battle with Goliath many years later, they each had to be an active participant in the battling of the giants that blocked their progression. You cannot simply sit and wait for the giants to grow old and die… they will continue to roll around in defiance of your destiny until you take the first steps to evict them. But it was through each of them choosing to be dependent on God and His provision and plan that delivered them to their victorious destiny over the behemoths they faced. So whether you relate most to the trickster and con-man, the fallen prodigal, those broken before they were even born through elements out of their control, or perhaps a combination of all three the truth is there are giants that inhabit the places you are meant to go. They aren’t the result of your sins, your mistakes, or even other’s sins or foolish choices. No, they exist to insure that you do not take one inch of ground in your Promised Land on your own. You cannot go where you are meant to go without God’s help, and the giants in your path defy your ability to conquer them without His providence.
Rather than stand in awe of the colossal figures I faced in Shadow of the Colossus, it was time to take my sword in hand and begin the slow and methodical process of solving the puzzle of the giant that stood before me. We each have the same choice in front of us. We can run away for 40 years the way the Israelite people did, but the giants will still be there when you come back. The only option is to seek God’s plan, take the sword of the Spirit in our hand, and armed with prayer and the Word of God begin to eliminate those giants that are residing in our territory. Don’t blame yourself for the giants you face, or the decisions of your parents, friends or family… your giants were inevitable. But take heart! Your victory over them was written before those mammoth adversaries ever set took their first step on YOUR property.