Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Shelach


Parashas Shelach
 
     The children of Israel are standing at the threshold of Eretz Israel, the land of promise which the Lord had given to Abraham. Moses was instructed to select the leaders of the twelve tribes (“...all distinguished men; heads of the Children of Israel...”) to “send forth” (shelach) into the land and...”let them spy out the land of Canaan that I give to the Children of Israel....”
     An important question arises. Why send these men to “spy out” the land, as if God’s promise was not sufficient? Why did God instruct Moses in this matter? If Moses was remaining in God’s favor and in acceptance of this strategem, why did he blame the people when they accepted the spies’ report? Since Moses gave them a list of important observations to report on, why were they condemned for reporting the truth as they perceived it?
     Despite these questions, for which there may be more than one answer, it was not wrong to send a party to reconnoiter the land. The problem is they changed the scope of their mission once they arrived and began to observe the land under the guiding agenda which Moses had given. Now, they became concerned IF they should enter the land to conquer it. Here is a contrast between faith and doubt. GOD commands the conquest. Faith ( total dependability upon God who has established them) assumes that the land will be conquered and seeks the way to accomplish it. Doubt (in this context, a basic lack of dependability on the word of the Lord) assumes the land cannot be conquered unless convinced otherwise.
     Faith, here, has confronted the same circumstances as doubt or unbelief but has interpreted them differently. Unbelief (doubt) takes an aspect of truth and twists it toward an evil purpose. Faith takes that same aspect of truth and views it in the context of God’s revealed purposes, convinced that what He has promised He is also able to perform.
     Faith and doubt do not seem to be that far apart since both begin with the same information and both require action. In the cases of Caleb and Joshua, the action demonstrated required a “different spirit,” which Scripture clearly tells us Caleb possessed. He probably recognizes the same limitations of the Israelites’ capabilities in their conquering the land, but he is animated by something different which strengthened his resolve to follow the Lord, despite the obvious obstacles.
     Even though Moses had sent these leaders out with the instruction “be of good courage,” ten of them failed to demonstrate an unyielding heart and submitted a negative, fearful report of the “people of the land.” Caleb and Joshua, however, understand the uncompromising reliability of the promises of the Lord. Scripture does not say who spoke these words, but one can be assured that both of these Spirit-filled leaders agreed in their reports: “....do not fear the people of the land, for they are our bread (a boastful assurance of victory); their protection (gods whom the Canaanite worshiped) has departed from them and the Lord is with us....”
     The eye that looks to God and His promises instead of outward circumstances will be the one which will see a way through the most difficult of the existing conditions or state of affairs surrounding and affecting it.


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