Sh’lach L’cha – “Send Out”

The Torah reading for this week’s parasha is Sh’lach La’ha which means “Send Out.” It is taken from the book of Numbers 13:1-15:41.

Here we see a brutally honest account of Israel’s faults, the murmuring, complaining, stubbornness, rebellion, and the punishments suffered by them.

We also see both the kindness and the severity of Adonai, and if we observe closely, we will see stern warnings and wonderful blessings for us even today.

Adonai spoke to Moses, saying, “Send men to spy out the land of Canaan, which I am giving to the people of Israel. From each tribe of their fathers you shall send a man, every one a leader among them.”

Moses sent out spies into the land of Canaan at the command of Adonai. The twelve spies explored the land of Canaan, for forty days, and then returned to the Israeli camp.

All of them agreed that Canaan was a good and fruitful land, but ten out of the twelve gave a bad and fearful report, suggesting that conquest would be impossible.

The ten unbelieving spies illustrate many believers to-day: they have “spied out” their inheritance in Messiah and have even tasted some of the fruits of His blessing; but their unbelief keeps them from entering in by faith.

Israel already knew the names of the pagan nations that lived in the land, and that it was a good and rich land. They saw the incredible fruit of the land and brought back a huge cluster of grapes for the people to see and taste.

They even visited Hebron, where the patriarchs of Israel were buried. This should have been to them a reminder of the faith of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph, but for 10 out of the 12 it wasn’t enough.

Sadly, the people believed the discouraging majority report and rejected the encouragement from Joshua and Caleb. That night the people began complaining against Adonai, Moses, Aaron, Joshua, and Caleb. They asked, “Did the Lord bring us to this new land just to be killed in war?”

They said, “The enemy will kill us and take our wives and children! It would be better for us to go back to Egypt.” This was a renunciation of the authority of Moses and flat-out rebellion against God. And it seems from Nehemiah 9:17 that they had appointed another leader, under whose direction they were about to return to their bondage in Egypt.

How astonishing that the Israeli people, the chosen people of God, had totally lost sight of their high calling, and of the power and goodness of Adonai.

Moses, Aaron, Joshua, and Caleb all attempted to reason with the people, but to no avail. Moses and Aaron fell on their faces before Adonai. Caleb and Joshua tore their clothes in sadness, indignation, and holy dread when they saw the unbelief of the people and considered the prospect of God’s judgment, which they saw ready to break out on the nation.

The people began talking about stoning Moses, Aaron, Joshua, and Caleb to death!  At that moment Adonai appeared in glory at the Tabernacle and asked how much longer He should be expected to tolerate the people’s contempt and unbelief. God’s suggestion was that He destroy the nation and make Moses the patriarch of a new and greater nation.

But Moses humbly but strongly interceded on behalf of Israel. His request, in one word, was “Pardon!” Adonai honored Moses’ plea for mercy, but He also decreed, that this entire generation was to wander and eventually perish in the wilderness. It would be a forty-year wandering, a year for each day of spying.

The most profound lesson here for us is this – that the unbeliever’s unbelief is his own undoing! And, that it is possible to escape Egypt, and miss Canaan.

Everyone twenty years and older would die in the wilderness, except for Caleb and Joshua. Even Moses was not allowed to enter the land of promise.

As for the ten unbelieving spies, they were struck with a plague and died. The next day the Israelis were recklessly trying to accomplish God’s work apart from God’s counsel and His leading. Moses warned them, but they ignored his warning.

The men advanced to the ridge of the hill country, and the enemy defeated them. This whole venture was “presumption” on their part; they were living by the counsel of men, not by faith in God.

Chapter 15, There were five basic offerings, the burnt offering, the grain offering, the peace offering, the sin offering and the guilt offering.

But with the burnt and special vow offering, the Israelis were instructed to offer two quarts of fine flour mixed with about a quart of oil, and this portion was placed on the altar, while the rest would be given to the priest. The worshiper also brought a quart of wine which the priest poured out at the base of the altar where the blood of the sacrifice was poured out.

Believers in Yeshua today can see in the fine flour a picture of Messiah the Bread of Life, who in His suffering, offered Himself to God for us as a sweet-smelling aroma. The oil is a symbol of the Holy Spirit, and the wine reminds us of the joy of the Lord.

We have a short story of the sabbath-breaker and his dreadful punishment by the Lord, for the gathering of sticks on the Sabbath. Lord, have mercy, and please incline our hearts to keep your law.

Closing thoughts: a word from God can lead, deliver, defeat our enemies, save, and heal. Messiah is the word of God. He is the full counsel of God the Father. We should never allow “anyone” to separate us from the will, the word or counsel of God. Our battle is to fight the good fight of faith in Messiah.