Beth Elohim Messianic Synagogue
Parashah #37: Shlach L’kha (Send on your behalf)
Haftarah: Y’hoshua (Joshua) 2:1-24
B’rit Chadashah: Hebrews 3:7-19
The focus of this week’s lesson is the limited forgiveness G-d agreed to bestow on behalf of Moshe’s prayers for the sin of the 10 spies. This issue is just one more in which the beliefs of Christians and Messianic Jews completely differ. Numbers 14:1-4 describes the whining and lack of faith in G-d’s promises exhibited by the Israelites, again! How quickly they believed rumors of their neighbors and kinsmen, just as we do today. Comments like “I saw it on U-tube,” “it was on Facebook,” my neighbor said…,” etc. When are we going to actually read G-d’s Torah with a prayerful attitude and an open mind and take Him seriously? We have made no progress since the time of the wilderness experience, even with the progressive revelation provided by YHVH’s written Torah, the Living Torah (Yahshua), and the Ruach.
Recall the spies were sent by Moshe at G-d’s command. Unfortunately, because of their distortion of the truth and their lack of faith and trust in G-d, the entire generation was punished because the entire generation believed the spies over Kalev’s encouragement and admonishment to trust G-d (Num.13:30). Speaking of Kalev, was he a Jew or Gentile? Num. 13:6 reads “from the tribe of Y’hudah, Kalev the son of Y’funeh.” If we take this sentence literally, there is no question he was Jewish. However, there are arguments on both sides about Kalev’s heritage. Let’s explore a couple of them.
Kalev’s father was Jephunneeh, a Kennezite. These people were descended from Kenez. Kenez was a son of Eliphaz who was one of Esau’s sons. The Kennezzites were among those tribes who had lived in Canaan who were to be displaced by the Israelites. But Kalev’s family had at some point joined themselves to the Jews in Egypt and had been faithful members of the covenant from that time forward. On the Jewish side of the argument, the Talmudic discussion clearly sides with the Torah that states he was from the tribe of Judah, though he is called “the Kenizzite” because his stepbrother (and later son- in- law) came from his mother’s second husband named Kenaz. To add to the mix is the fact that the word “Jew” (Yud Heh Vav Dalet Yud) pronounced “Y’hudah, comes from the root Yud Dalet Heh (to give thanks, laud, or praise). Therefore, it is not difficult to make the connection if Kalev was not an indigenous Jew. If he were a Gentile, he was grafted in through his obedience to and love for G-d that Yahshua describes in Romans chapter 2. Now back to our discussion on G-d’s partial forgiveness described in Num. 14:20-25.
Num. 14:20 reads “Adonai answered, ‘I have forgiven as you have asked.’” How did Moshe ask? Let’s read Num. 14:13-19: …when the Egyptians hear about this-[and they will,] because it was from among them that you, by your strength brought this people up- they will tell the people living in this land, They have heard that you, Adonai, are with this people; that you, Adonai, are seen face to face; that your cloud stands over them; that you go ahead of them in a column of cloud by day and a column of fire by night. If you kill off this people at a single stroke, then the nations that have heard of your reputation will say that the reason Adonai slaughtered this people in the desert is that he wasn’t able to bring them into the land which he swore to give them. So now, please, let Adonai’s power be as great as when you said’ Adonai is slow to anger, rich in grace, forgiving offenses and crimes; yet not exonerating the guilty, but causing the negative effects of the parents’ offenses to be experienced by their children and even by the third and fourth generations.’ Please! Forgive the offense of this people according to the greatness of your grace, just as you have borne with this people from Egypt until now.”
Adonai answers in Num. 14:20-25. When G-d said, “I have forgiven,” He does not mean a complete forgiveness for the sinning generation. Rather, He means a qualified forgiveness based on and limited to “as you have [Moshe] asked.” G-d’s forgiveness relates to the fact that, in spite of their sin, the nation of Israel-the next generation- will be brought by G-d into the Promised Land (future). Therefore G-d’s name cannot be desecrated by the Egyptians. On the other hand, this generation will be killed out. For this generation there is no forgiveness. G-d had accepted Moshe’s plea for forgiveness, but only to a certain degree. On one hand, He consented to have the next generation of the People of Israel enter the Land of Canaan, as He promised to Avraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Nevertheless, He exacted punishment on the generation that sinned. We have neither a sweeping once-saved-always-saved forgiveness of sin taught by Christian clergy, nor a wholesale punishment. This is G-d’s morality. One more important point about this event. G-d’s judgment had been enacted against a people that had either no faith/ trust or a weak faith/trust in Him and blatantly defied his command to take the land. G-d tells Moshe to tell the people in no uncertain terms He is tired of their complaints and sins against Him. “Every single one of you who were included in the census over the age of twenty, you who have complained against me, will certainly not enter the land about which I raised my hand to swear that I would have you to live in it- except for Kalev, the son of Y’funeh and Y’hoshua the son of Nun”(Num. 14:28-35). Those who gave a false report died by a plague in the presence of Adonai. To make things worse, the people of Israel felt a sudden remorse after they learned of their fate but did not act upon it until the next morning. Does this not sound like Pharaoh when he asked Moshe to ask G-d to remove the frogs? The people ignored Moshe’s instruction not to go to the place Adonai promised and were promptly defeated. There is a point of no return just as there was with Pharaoh. In a future context, the Rapture will occur ONE time. Those who are not raptured or sealed will go through the Tribulation. This will be one last chance to Teshuvah (repent wholeheartedly) before reaching the point of no return. However, at this point, anyone siding with Yahshua will be martyred. Deut. 1:45 makes it very clear on this issue; “You repented and wept before G-d, but G-d did not listen to your cry and did not incline His ear toward you.” The time for repentance is now. Repentance is only the first half of the requirement as stated in the seven-fold witness in the book of Revelation. The second requirement is to follow the command in Deuteronomy 6:4-11; carrying the testimony of Yahshua and guarding the commands of HaShem is the complete formula for salvation when we stand before our Judge, King, Messiah; Yahshua.
Haftarah: Y’hoshua 2:1-24
This week’s haftarah tells the story of the spies sent by Joshua to scout out Jericho, prior to the invasion of the Holy Land by the Israelites. This event is similar to the one in our parashah. Joshua sent two spies to Jericho, where they stayed at an inn within the city walls, run by Rahab. The king discovered their presence and he sent for Rahab and asked her to turn the two men over to the guards or other authoritative figures. Rahab covered for the men telling the king they had already left. She actually hid them on her rooftop. Rahab told the men that the people in the city were afraid of the Israelites impending attack because they knew G-d was with them. She told them she knew G-d was going to give them the land. Rahab asked to be remembered and spared with her family when the Israelites attacked. She was told to tie a scarlet thread and hang it from her window. This would be a symbol that her home was a safe haven. She helped the men escape via a rope out her window and she told them how to hide if needed. The spies returned, and Rahab and her family were spared. We can see the similarity of the red thread in the window and the blood on the lentils of the doors during Pesach (Passover). Rahab was obedient as were the Israelites. Her home was symbolically covered by the blood of a Messiah that was yet to physically appear yet was already present through this act.
B’rit Chadashah: Hebrews 3:7-19
This passage gives us a confirmation in the B’rit Chadashah “New Testament” of what G-d said and did as described in the parashah. There is little need for detailed explanation beyond the literal word. There is a point of no return. The Ruach confirms this fact. “Watch out brothers, so that there will not be in any one of you an evil heart lacking trust, which could lead you to apostatize (fall away) from the living G-d. Instead, keep exhorting each other every day, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you will become hardened by the deceit of sin. For we have become sharers in the Messiah, provided however, that we hold firmly to the conviction we began with, right through until the goal is reached” (Heb. 3:12-14). John 14:12 reads “Yes, indeed! I tell you that whosoever trusts in me will also do the works I do! John 14:15 reads “If you love me, you will keep my commands.” In John 15:9 Yahshua tells us that “If you keep my commands, you will stay in my love.” John 14:21 reads “Whoever has my commands and keeps them (7-fold witness in Revelation), is the one who loves me, and the one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and reveal myself to him. “John 14:24 reads “Someone who doesn’t love me doesn’t keep my words.”
Moving to Heb. 3:18-19: And to whom was it that he swore that they would not enter his rest? Those who were disobedient. So, we see that they were unable to enter because of lack of trust. “If by chance we need to define trust and validate the term as an action verb, Hebrews chapter 11 provides 18 examples. I hope you take the time this Shabbat and every Shabbat to delve into G-d’s Torah and expand your study beyond this lesson. If you enter your study with a humble heart, you will be amazed at what will be revealed to you by the Ruach according to G-d’s timing.
Rabbi Tamah Davis-Hart