Beth Elohim Messianic Synagogue
Parashah #37: Shlach L’kha (Send on your behalf) B’midbar (Numbers) 13:1-15:41
Haftarah: Y’hoshua (Joshua) 2:1-24
B’rit Chadashah: Hebrews 3:7-19
This week we will focus on the concept and reality of qualified and limited forgiveness, and who the 10 spies saw when reconnoitering the land of Kena’an. Concerning the reality of limited forgiveness, G-d agreed to bestow such a forgiveness for the sin of the 10 spies only because Moshe prayed to G-d on behalf of those who believed the report of the 10 spies over the power of G-d and His command to take the land. Numbers 14:1-4 describes the repeated whining and lack of faith in G-d’s promises exhibited by the Israelites. How quickly they believed rumors of their neighbors and kinsmen, just as our society feeds on such gossip (lashon hara). We must keep in mind that the wisdom of man leads to death:
Proverbs 12:15 The way of fools seems right to them, but the wise listen to advice.
Proverbs 14:12 There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end, it leads to death.
Since the time of Babel, men believed they have a better or “revised” way of living that does not include the G-d of Israel or His Torah. In the end, the outcome will be worse than that in Babel. G-d will have His day with those who think they can out-think Him or simply eliminate Him from society. The sin of the spies is not unlike that of HaSatan. He wanted to usurp G-d’s authority and instill fear and doubt that G-d is Sovereign and that His Word is True. It is very clear where the world stands as we observe that not only are abominations clearly stated in the Bible tolerated; they are now promoted and praised. Any overt opposition brings social condemnation and threats of profiling or discrimination including labels of “hate speech/ideology. G-d is very clear in insisting that we be a people separated for His service and not part of our pagan society. Take care not to be taken in by intellectualism for its own sake, or the modern philosophy that we “are all one” and that there are to be no differences in our attitudes or behaviors. G-d is very clear that true believers defined by Yahshua Himself in the book of Romans (2 and 3; John chapter 14; and Revelation) are to be set apart, a people that are to set an example to the world for G-d’s Torah. Rather than becoming “tolerant and loving” of lifestyles that are clearly forbidden in G-d’s Torah. Our knowledge should be used to glorify G-d according to His commands, rulings, and statutes. Mans’ “knowledge” without wisdom from above is nothing. Efforts to learn for our own aggrandizement are of no avail. Proverbs 9:20 reads : “ The fear of the L-rd is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.”
Recall the spies were sent by Moshe at G-d’s command. Unfortunately, because of their lack of faith and trust in G-d, the entire generation was punished because the entire generation believed the spies fear and doubt that G-d could win the victory for the people over Kalev’s encouragement and admonishment to trust G-d and not rebel against Him (Num.13:30). They grumbled against Moshe and Aharon as G-d’s appointed leaders; wanted to appoint someone to take them back to Egypt that represents the sinful lifestyle, and stone both men. It appears that G-d chose to hold those over the age of 20 and older accountable to G-d. Those in this category would not enter the land. The younger ones, children, Joshua, and Kaleb were the only ones that would enter. (Num. 14:29-31). The rebellious generation was sentenced to death without reaching the land (being saved). This is a prophetic statement as are many within G-d’s Torah (Rev. 22:7,12-13; 18-19). Once saved always saved is not taught in the Bible.
The fact that only two adult men were to enter the land begs the question of whether Kalev was 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 and this is discussed in detail in a previous parashah written in 2018 on the website at http://www.rabdaivis.org
Getting back to limited and qualified forgiveness we read in Num. 14:20: “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. This level of forgiveness is 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 present generation will be killed out. For this generation there is no “eternal salvation” forgiveness. G-d 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 Christian clergy, or a wholesale punishment. This is G-d’s morality. Another important point concerning this event is that 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. This sounds like Pharaoh’s response 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 will go through the Tribulation. Those who are sealed for G-d will not be killed during this time (Rev. 7:3) but will serve as G-d’s witnesses to Judah. This will be one last chance to teshuvah (heartfelt, humble repentance) 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.
I want to address another important point in our parashah which is found in chapter 13:28-9. The spies reported that the Anakim (giants)were among those living in the land and that Amalek was living in the area. The spies reported in verses 32-3 that “all the people there were giant! We saw the N’filim, the descendants of ‘Anak, who was from the N’filim; to ourselves we looked like grasshoppers in comparison, and we looked that way to them too!”
Could they have really seen N’filim? /N’filim are mentioned in several scriptures including Deut. 2;11; Josh11:21-2. An etiological account of the N’filim is found in Genesis 6:1-4. The reference to Anakites in Joshua notes that even after the conquest some N’filim survived in Philistine cities. Indeed, David’s adversary, Goliath, is described as a giant descended from a group of giants from Rapha (1 Chr. 25-6. The point is that although their report of seeing the N’filim in the land was probably true. This was not the sin for which they were held accountable. The sin was not demonstrating the faith and trust in G-d that He could overcome anyone and anything and that His promise to give them the land was true. Furthermore, their report spread fear and doubt among the people for which they were given only limited forgiveness and a prolonged journey, one year for every day the spies scouted the land: “as I live, says the L-rd, I will do to you just as you have urged me. In this very wilderness shall your carcasses drop. Of all you who were recorded in your various lists from the age of 20 years and up, you who have muttered against Me. Your children, who you said, would be carried off-these will I allow to enter; they shall know the land that you have rejected. But your carcasses shall drop in this wilderness, while your children roam the wilderness for forty years, suffering for your faithlessness, until the last of your carcasses is down in the wilderness. You shall bear your punishment for forty years, corresponding to the number of days-forty days- that you scouted the land: a year for each day. Then you will know what it means to thwart Me. I the L-rd have spoken: Thus, will I do to all that wicked band that has banded together against Me: in this very wilderness they shall die to the last man” ( Num. 14:28-35).
This narrative is consistent with the entirety of G-d’s Torah concerning forgiveness and salvation. Salvation is not an instantaneous event that abolishes any accountability for sin. We can lose our position with G-d as did this generation of Israelites. Furthermore, we must internalize G-d’s Torah, and boldly live it no matter how situations in life may seem impossible to overcome. Although we will experience “giant” obstacles and trials in our lives, if we take G-d’s promises to heart and mind, we will overcome and win our battles just as Joshua reiterated G-d’s promises to the doubting Israelites (Num. 14:6-10).
Haftarah: Y’hoshua (Joshua) 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 ion 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 in. 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 but was already present.
B’rit Chadashah: Hebrews 3:7-19
This passage gives us 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: 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 for your consideration.
Rabbi Tamah Davis-Hart