Torah Portion: Shelach (Send) B’midbar(Numbers) 13:1-15:41
Haftorah Reading Joshua 2:1-24
Tonight, we study a Torah portion that is possibly one of the saddest portions we will look at this entire year. It is mainly concerned with the sin of the scouts. As a result of their mission Israel had to spend another forty years in the desert rather than being in the Land of Promise.
We must ask ourselves why? Why would they make the choice of not entering into G-d’s promise? How could they have been so blind? Yet, when we take the time to look at this incident we will all see a lot of ourselves in this saga.
Let us start with Moshe’s thinking when he sent them out. He already knew the Land was a good Land, flowing with milk and honey. He knew all the promises of G-d to Avraham, Yitzhak and Yaakov. So why did he choose to send these men?
I think the reason can be found in Numbers/B’midbar 13:17-20. In these verses we read of his charge to the 12 men. We often think of him basically saying that these men needed to experience for themselves the beauty and goodness of the Land. We often read or think of him saying in effect, it is or is it not a good land? What if we looked at it slightly different? What if we read it as, is this a good land or what! Moshe wanted the scouts to be as excited as he was at the prospect of entering into G-d’s promise. He wanted them to own this promise as their own personal promise of G-d. Sadly, they returned with another view. They looked at the problems and obstacles rather than G-d’s promise to them. How often do we do the same? How often do we miss G-d’s best because we lose faith in who He is, what He has for each of us and even faith in ourselves to follow His call?
Think for a moment about these men. They were leaders of their tribes. They were important people. In the desert life was not easy but they had food, shelter, water and G-d hovered over the Mishkan constantly. To go into the Land would change everything. The people would have to set up a government, build houses, grow crops for food and even fight off the enemies around them. In other words, they would be responsible citizens. That would be difficult compared to their life now. They were basically afraid to step out and take hold of G-d’s plan for their lives, to become partners in carrying out His plan. They only focused on what they could do in their own strength, not what G-d, in His divine power, could do through them. They preferred to stay in the pew, so to speak, and listen to the sermon each week, leave after the meeting, go have lunch with the family, and then their obligation to G-d would be over until next meeting. That is so much easier. However, these men’s remembrance faded away. How many of the scout’s names do any of you remember? How about the two men who came back with a good report? Do you remember their names? Of course we do, Joshua and Caleb were their names.
Why were Joshua and Caleb different? In Numbers/B’Midbar 14:24 we read where Caleb is described as having a different spirit. One of my questions this week was asking you what you think this verse means. I think they believed G-d and chose to basically get out of the boat and put their complete trust in G-d Almighty to fulfill His promise. Because of their faith, when G-d told them, through Moshe, His promise of the Land, they believed it as if it had already happened. Therefore, they viewed the obstacles through different eyes. They had a different spirit, one of faith and action, one that drove them to do G-d’s will no matter what. They believed G-d’s word, “If I have promised something to you, if I have called you, I will provide a way for you.”
All of us are faced with this same issue at different crossroads in our life Do we believe G-d or is just sitting in a meeting every week enough for us? Are we satisfied being just a “desert believer?” Or do we want more than just to blend in with the crowd? Do we want to accomplish just what we can do in our own strength or do we want to achieve things that are only possible with G-d?
I think these verses should speak to us all and bring us to look at where we are with the Father. Are we open to Him no matter the cost? This is how we can live the life of faith we are called to live. A life that makes a difference, not one of just existing for our own pleasure. Our world is made up of people just existing, going about life lived in a spiritual desert instead of the Promised Land.
In the Messianic Writings we see Yeshua speaking about people who follow Him are to live. Matthew 10:19-22. Yet we see people who would fall away if it meant stepping out and doing the will of G-d. (John 6:60,66)
My desire for all of us is that no matter what or where we are in our walk with G-d, there is still life to be lived for Him in the Promised Land doing His will.