This week’s Torah portion is titled “Shelach Lecha” and means “Send for yourself”. The portion begins with HaShem saying to Moche, “Send out for yourself men so that they may spy out the land of Canaan, which I am going to give to the sons of Israel; you shall send a man from each of their fathers’ tribes, everyone a leader among them” (Bamidbar 13:2).
This section of the Torah dealing with sending the spies to the land of Canaan is just after the section of Miriam’s speaking evil (lashon hara) about Moshe. The spies comments about the land can also fall under the category of ‘lashan hara’ (evil speech) for they spoke against HaShem Himself. They questioned His character, His wisdom and love for them in sending them into this situation. HaShem had declared the Land of Canaan to be good, but the people were unable to take His word and they felt the need to send up “spies” to verify the accuracy of His word. Scripture labels the Children of Yisrael as a faithless, hard-hearted and unbelieving generation causing the anger of HaShem to burn against them. Their attitude prevented them from entering the Promised Land (Heb. 4:1-7). As HaShem had already proclaimed that the Israelites would take the land, there was no need for “spies” to be sent. This is similar to what we observed in portion Bamidbar when the fighting men were counted. It was not for HaShem’s knowledge but for the comfort and confidence for the Israelites, to help build their faith. HaShem did not choose the 12 spies, the people did; hence, the name of the parashah, “Send for yourselves” When people choose their own leaders the failure rate is high, in this case 10 of the 12 leaders were faithless. Man-inspired, initiated efforts seldom produce lasting spiritual benefits. We need to hear the Ruach’s voice and walk in faith based upon His Word. Failure to do so makes us inconsistent in our walk and unable to inherit the promises.
In their journey, complaints and murmuring are commonplace. In spite of the miraculous signs they have been provided the children of Israel are constantly looking backward instead of looking to the promise. Unfortunately this is human nature without faith, and this is quite a dilemma for Moshe, who in his desire to fulfill the call upon his life, simply wants to obey the Holy One of Israel and guide the children of Israel to the prophesied return to Canaan. So with the Promised Land on the horizon, the Holy One instructs Moshe to choose one leader from among each of the twelve tribes who will go into the Land and come back with a report that will aid in the Israelites faith. HaShem already promised the people he would give them the land: “I will send My terror ahead of you, and throw into confusion all the people among whom you come, and I will make all your enemies turn their backs to you. I will send hornets ahead of you so that they will drive out the Hivites, the Canaanites, and the Hittites before you.” (Exodus 23:27-28). When the twelve scouts entered the land they came to the brook of Eshcol, and cut down a branch with one cluster of grapes which was so large that they needed to bear it between two upon a rod and they also took of the pomegranates, and of the figs and they returned from searching of the land after forty days. And they came to Moses, and to Aaron, and to all the congregation of the Children of Yisrael, and brought back word to them and showed them the fruit of the land and they told them, “We came unto the land where you sent us, and surely it flows with milk and honey; and this is the fruit of it. Nevertheless, the people are strong that dwell in the land, and the cities are walled, and very great: and moreover we saw the children of Anak there.” The report of the spies which resulted from their 40 day inspection of the land was negative, as only two of the twelve chosen leaders actually returned with a good report. The spies, who were leaders from each of the twelve tribes, were not overtaken by giants in the land, neither were they devoured by the land after forty days within it. What they permitted to enter into their hearts was fear and a lack of faith. Not enough faith to believe that HaShem is capable to do what He has promised. The ten with the bad report sized up the giants they saw, and in effect said that our Elohyim is too small. They chose to have fear and doubt instead of faith and obedience. If we would just yield to His way and not our own ways, what great deeds He could perform in our lives.
When the ten came back with the bad report, immediately the infection of doubt and disbelief permeates the camp in spite of the fact that the evidence of the fruit which they brought back, testifies to the goodness of the land and the truth of HaShem’s word. Fear is evident as the people murmur, complain and ask for a leader to take them back to Egypt. The men of faith, Caleb and Joshua, attempted to encourage the people, but the power of unbelief prevailed over them. Caleb had difficulty restraining them from their rebellion when giving his report. For this HaShem rebuked them and Moshe had to intercede for them in verses 13 to 20. It is at this point that Moshe and Aaron give all leaders another example of how a leader should react when confronted by his followers. Their mutiny causes Moshe and now even his brother Aaron to fall on their faces in prayer and supplication to the Most High. There is no other place to turn but to the mercy of Yahweh.
After the sin of believing the report of the 10 spies, the people are told they will not enter the land. Following this, some of them decided to “repent.” They rebelled against Moses and Aaron and afterward despite the warning from HaShem, the people felt that it was their duty to correct their wrongs, and foolishly attempt to take the land by force. They are met with disaster and disappointment in their attack against the Amalekites and Canaanites causing them to be attacked and killed. True humility is required in seeking HaShem’s will in true repentance, a change from following one’s own direction to true obedience whatever the cost. Today there is a generation who are being called to enter the "promised land" by faith and are being given a vision of the good land and its blessings. Will we rise up and declare that we are well able to overcome the giants of the forces of darkness and make our calling and election sure or shall we fail the test and fall in the wilderness. There must be a purging of the flesh, a remnant who will overcome and be presented before the presence of His glory without spot or blemish or any such fleshly desire.
Today, as HaSHem is raising up godly, Torah obedient followers in the Messiah, He is challenging each and every one of us to exemplify faith and willingness to submit our wills to the will of the Father. He is training us to crucify our flesh in order for the guiding power of the Holy Spirit to operate effectively through each and everyone of us. As we learn to be led by the Spirit and to walk by the Spirit, the giants that we encounter are small compared to the faithfulness of HaShem and the rewards that He promises. This doesn’t mean that we understand all that He requires from us, but we can be assured that His desire is to use each one of His children in whatever calling He has given them and in whatever circumstance He has put us in.