Beth Elohim Messianic Synagogue
Parashah #37: Shlach L’kha (Send on your behalf) B’midbar (N umbers) 13:1-15:41
Haftarah: Y’hoshua (Joshua) 2:1-24
B’rit Chadashah: Hebrews 3:7-19
The focus of this week’s lesson is the forgiveness G-d agreed to bestow on behalf of Moshe’s prayers for the sin of the 10 spies. The key concept in this teaching validates illustrates that salvation is neither instantaneous nor irrevocable along the path. Numbers 14:1-4 describes the continued complaints and lack of faith in G-d’s promises exhibited by the Israelites. How quickly they believe rumors of their neighbors and kinsmen, just as we do today. Comments like “but I saw it on U-tube,” “I read it on the Internet,” my neighbor said and they are ‘real Jews.’” When will people actually read G-d’s Torah and take G-d seriously? We have made no progress since the time of the wilderness experience, even with the progressive revelation provided by YHVH/Yahshua and the Ruach HaKodesh to guide us in writing, action, and spirit. We should keep in mind this was a test (the recon lasted 40 days= number of testing) for the spies, the people, and Kalev. Recall that even after the report, Kalev stood staunchly for G-d’s promise to provide victory for His people. This scenario with multiple facets is typical of how G-d allow/causes events to occur in our lives. For example, we are given many tests and opportunities to glorify G-d. Some of the tests are frightening and some of the opportunities for performing mitzvot are challenging. Our challenge is to accept all of these opportunities as being under the purview of G-d and take prayerful action without hesitation. AS we continue to learn G-d’s Torah, we will become more confident in what is of G-d and what is a distraction from the Adversary.
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 before we continue with the main theme of this lesson.
Kalev’s father was Jephunneeh, a Kennezite. These people 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. Last week we talked about the necessity for fellow travelers/Gentiles to accept and obey the same rules as Judah/Israel in order to be grafted in to the one stick spoken of in Ezekiel.
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 chapters 2-3. 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. He clarifies 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, the current 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 from the generation that sinned. We have neither a sweeping once-saved-always-saved forgiveness of sin taught by many Christian clergy, or 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 no faith or 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 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 the future, the Rapture will occur one time. Those who are not raptured and those who are sealed will go through the Tribulation. This will be one last chance for those who have not turned to Yahshua to teshuvah (repent) before reaching the point of no return. However, at this point, anyone siding with Yahshua will be martyred, Judah specifically mentioned. 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.
This parashah ends with the third paragraph of the Sh’ma. I invite you to read and meditate on the entire passage (Deut. 6:4-9). I recommend reading beyond to include the remainder of the chapter to understand the entire concept and context of G-d’s commands for those who expect to be found faithful when the time comes to face the King of Kings.
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 surrender the two men. Rahab covered for the men telling the king they had already left although 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, but was already present for her and the Israelites.
B’rit Chadashah: Hebrews 3:7-19
This passage gives us a “New Testament” confirmation of what G-d said and did 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 we read: “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 make time to delve into G-d’s Torah and expand your study beyond this lesson. If you enter study with a humble heart and thoughtful prayer, you will be amazed at what will be revealed to you in His time. May we use all we are given for His glory.
Rabbi Tamah Davis