Shelach Lecha (Send Forth)

Num13:1–15:41; Josh 2:1–24; (conquering Jericho. The 2 spies sent out) Heb 3:1-19; (taking hold of God’s promises – entering His rest) Rom 4:1–25 (Abraham trusted God and it was accounted to him as righteousness.)

“Then the Lord spoke to Moses saying, ‘Send out for yourself men so that they may spy out the land of Canaan which I am going to give to the sons of Israel; you shall send a man from each of their fathers’ tribes, every one a leader among them.’”  (Num 13:1–2)

It had been more than a year since the children of Israel had left Egypt. Within that period, they had received the Torah, built the Tabernacle and dedicated it, and survived the terrible mistakes they had made along the way. Now, they stood poised to enter Canaan and it was a defining moment which held enormous repercussions. 

A leader was selected from each of the 12 tribes, “meraglim” to check out the land and return with the following information: “What kind of people occupied this territory? Were they strong or weak, few or many in number? How fertile was the country? Did the people live in fortified cities?” Finally, Moses instructed them to return with some fruit of the land.

What was the purpose for this? Did it really matter since God had anyway promised them the land as their inheritance? But, God wanted to test their level of trust because unless we ‘possess the land’, God’s promises will always remain in the realm of good theology. The test was not a trick but an opportunity for the Israelites to grow in relationship with their God.

The meraglim returned with their report after 40 days and described things accurately in terms of the facts. The problem concerned their interpretation of the facts. No-one disputed that the land was flowing with ‘milk and honey’. Everyone agreed that those who dwelt there were fierce, lived in large fortified cities and that among the inhabitants were the Anakim and Nephilim who made them appear like ants in comparison. 

Sadly, the majority responded with unbelief. Scripture teaches us that God is always greater than the problem, His promises 100% secure and His faithfulness steadfast, but unless we choose to believe it, our faith is empty. The Lord had tested the Israelites and they failed dismally.

The principles of spiritual warfare apply the same for us. SATAN ALWAYS APPEARS BIGGER THAN HE REALLY IS. The Nephalim were a hybrid people, first mentioned in Gen.6 and destroyed during the great Flood but mysteriously reappeared again as seen by the meraglim. The defining mark of the true overcomer is exposed when faced with impossible situations like this. God allows “giants” to test us so we can declare as did Job even when we are at our weakest, “Though He slay me yet will I trust Him.” (Job 13:15)

Fear had gripped the Israelites which Satan has used to full advantage throughout history. Fear of man is a snare and Satan’s counterfeit to the fear of the Lord. One leads to wisdom, the other to death. Yehsua warned that in the Last days, people’s hearts would fail them due to fear (of man): “There will be distress and anguish among nations… 26 people fainting from fear and expectation of the [dreadful] things coming on the world; for the [very] powers of the heavens will be shaken.” (Luke 21:25-26)

Ten of the meraglim gave a negative report against two who urged the people to trust God for His promises that had been repeatedly extended towards them. Instead, the Israelites chose to buy into fear’s deception. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart…” (Prov. 3) They reacted by seeking to stone Moses and Aaron, then appoint another leader and return back to Egypt!

Here we see many parallels to these current end times where believers are caving in to the lies and deceptions of the enemy through panic and fear, resulting in the love of many to grow cold. When we stand for truth and righteousness we will always be the minority facing off against the majority.

The storm clouds of demonic activity are moving fast and overshadowing the world holding it in the grip of fear. This is not the time to be hiding in the shadows, but standing fast as His witnesses in a dark and fallen world!

The saddest words in this parasha was God’s reaction to the Israelites disbelief in face of the bad report given by the 10 meraglim: “How long will these people treat Me with contempt? How long will they refuse to believe in Me, in spite of all the signs I have performed among them?”  (Num14:11)

Who are the giants we are facing in our lives and how well are we dealing with them? Many believers are being presented with a candy-floss gospel that fails to deliver because it promotes a hedonistic view of life where the cost of discipleship does not feature. Yeshua said in Matt16:24-25, “If anyone wants to follow after Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow Me.  For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.”

God then tested Moses by offering to wipe out the Israelites and start all over again. (Ex32:9–10) Instead, Moses interceded for them and appealed to His compassion and mercy: “The LORD is slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, forgiving iniquity and transgression, … Pardon the iniquity of this people, I pray, according to the greatness of Your mercy, just as You have forgiven this people, from Egypt even until now.”  (Num.14:18–19)

Although God did not destroy the entire nation of Israel He told Moses, “I have forgiven them, as you asked. Nevertheless, as surely as I live and as surely as the glory of the LORD fills the whole earth, not one of those who saw my glory and the signs I performed in Egypt and in the wilderness but who disobeyed me and tested me ten times—not one of them will ever see the land I promised on oath to their ancestors. No one who has treated me with contempt will ever see it.”  (Num. 14:20–24)

The entire generation (ages 20 and up) who had just been counted in the census would not enter Canaan but die in the wilderness other than Joshua and Caleb,

Another interesting thing included in this week’s parasha concern the tassels or tzit-tzit that adorned the fringes of the outer garments worn by Jewish people.

In biblical times, tassels worn on the hem of a garment symbolised authority. When David spared Saul’s life in the cave at En Gedi, he cut off the comer of Saul’s robe to symbolically demonstrate that the king’s authority would be cut off. (1 Sam 24:20) 

The tassels added to the hem were not worn by commoners, but only nobility and royalty. In Yeshua’s time they were commonly worn by the religious hierarchy and rabbis including Yeshua. Each tassel has seven white strands, the number of perfection. It also contains a blue cord (called the tekhelet) as a reminder of God’s heavenly commands that should always be kept in our minds and hearts (Num 15:38-40). 

Although God is interested in the condition of our hearts rather than externals, it does not render externals redundant, but rather it exists as an outward expression of an inward reality. In Jer 31 we read of a future time when God “…will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah— not according to the covenant that He made with their fathers in the day where He took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt, His covenant which they broke, though He was a husband to them. But this is the covenant that He will make with the house of Israel after those days: He will put His law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and He will be their God, and they shall be His people.” Verses 31-33; cf Heb. 10:11-16

In Mark 6 is the well-known story of a woman suffering from chronic bleeding who was healed when she touched the hem of Yeshua’s garment which held his tzit-zit: “Wherever he went, in towns, cities or country, they laid the sick in the marketplaces. They begged him to let them touch even the tzit-zit on his robe, and all who touched it were healed.” (verses 25-34)

The tzitzit is beautifully revealed in the Book of Malachi 4:2: “But for you who revere My name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings.”

The word in Hebrew for ‘wings’ is ‘kn’aphim’ also meaning ‘fringes’ referring to the tzitzit. Although the context of this verse refers to life in the Millennium age, there are also parallel’s to Yeshua as the “sun of righteousness.” In Him is healing and deliverance and wholeness, body, soul and spirit.

The idea of coming under the garment of salvation and the idea of coming under the shadow of God’s wings are both represented in the tzitzit. This is what drew the woman suffering from chronic bleeding to touch the tzitzit of Yeshua’s garment. There was nothing magical in the tzitzit, but there was power in the person who wore it.

Taking hold of the “kanaph” of the Jew is symbolic of several things: of the trusting willingness to come under the shadow of the Almighty: “How excellent [is] thy lovingkindness, O GOD! therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of thy wings.” Ps.l36:7.

This represents the person who places themselves under His protection: Ps. 17:8: “Keep me as the apple of the eye, hide me under the shadow of thy wings,” 

In the millennium Zechariah prophecies: “Thus saith YHWH of hosts; In those days [it shall come to pass], that ten men shall take hold out of all languages of the nations, even shall take hold of the kanaph, (wing, corner)  of him that is a Jew, saying, We will go with you: for we have heard [that] Elohim [is] with you.” Zech 8:23.

In Acts 19:11-12 we read that: “God did extraordinary miracles through Sha’ul. For instance, handkerchiefs and aprons (Tallit) that had touched him were brought to sick people; they would recover from their ailments; and the evil spirits would leave them.”

How do we know that this was a reference to the tallit? In John 11:44 we learn of a Hebrew custom to wrap the face of the deceased with his prayer shawl, his tallit, with its fringes in its wings, corners: “The man (Lazarus) who had been dead came out, his hands and feet wrapped in strips of linen and his face covered with a cloth (tallit). Yeshua said to them, “Unwrap him, and let him go!”

This practice was also observed in the same way with the burial wrapping of Yeshua (John 20:3-7). The reason why the Israelites wrapped their heads in their prayer shawls was because of their belief in the resurrection. And to be wrapped in one’s prayer shawl, tallit, was to show that even in death, the believer is “hiding under the shadow of the Almighty’s wings.” (Ps 91:1).

We need to stay at all times under the covering protection of God. The Israelites learnt this the hard way and we have the opportunity in these very last moments before His return to walk in faith and in the promises of God that The Day will not overtake us unawares.