In our reading we once again see Israel’s lack of faith and trust in God. Chapter 13 and 14 speak of God’s instruction to Israel to tour (or scout) and walk the Land that God has allotted to the Children of Israel. All they need to do is to see that which God has already given to them, trust that He will provide everything they need in order to inherit that Land, and obey Him. However, as the story tells, 10 out of the 12 scouts were looking at the situation from a worldly point of view rather than God’s. And they were terrified!
As I wrote in last year’s blog, Parashat Shelach (Send Forth), the reality is that Moses’s instruction to the messengers set them up for failure. There is no doubt that Moses was a great man who spoke with God Almighty and had an incredible call on his life. However, as we see numerous times in the Scriptures, Moses was fully human. His responsibility was to point to someone greater than he; it was not to be great himself. The writer to the Hebrews recognized this when he wrote:
Therefore, holy brethren, partakers of a heavenly calling, consider Yeshua, the Apostle and High Priest of our confession. He was faithful to Him who appointed Him, as Moses also was in all His house. For He has been counted worthy of more glory than Moses, by just so much as the builder of the house has more honor than the house. For every house is built by someone, but the builder of all things is God. Now Moses was faithful in all His house as a servant, for a testimony of those things which were to be spoken later; but Messiah was faithfulas a Son over His house whose house we are, if we hold fast our confidence and the boast of our hope firm until the end.
Just like Israel, Moses, and the twelve scouts, each of us has a choice to trust God and His promises, or not. It really is that simple.
Numbers 14:26–34 speaks of God’s judgment against Israel, against those who did not believe, with the exception of Caleb Ben of Jephunneh and Yehoshua (Joshua) Ben Nun.
And the LORD spoke to Moses and Aaron, saying, “How long shall I bear with this evil congregation who are grumbling against Me? I have heard the complaints of the sons of Israel, which they are making against Me. “Say to them, ‘As I live,’ says the LORD, ‘just as you have spoken in My hearing, so I will surely do to you; your corpses shall fall in this wilderness, even all your numbered men, according to your complete number from twenty years old and upward, who have grumbled against Me. Surely you shall not come into the land in which I swore to settle you, except Caleb the son of Jephunneh and Joshua the son of Nun. Your children, however, whom you said would become a prey — I will bring them in, and they shall know the land which you have rejected. But as for you, your corpses shall fall in this wilderness. And your sons shall be shepherds for forty years in the wilderness, and they shall suffer for your unfaithfulness, until your corpses lie in the wilderness. According to the number of days which you spied out the land, forty days, for every day you shall bear your guilt a year, even forty years, and you shall know My opposition.’”
I often hear well-meaning followers of the Messiah criticizing Israel’s lack of faith and their continuous disobedience throughout their time in the wilderness. However, they are missing a key message found in Israel’s story that is relevant for all of us today, Jew and Gentile alike. These stories were told in order for us to not repeat the same mistakes! The language in Numbers 14:26–34 is very similar to what is written in Hebrews 3:12–19:
Take care, brethren, lest there should be in any one of you an evil, unbelieving heart, in falling away from the living God. But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called “Today,” lest any one of you be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. For we have become partakers of Messiah, if we hold fast the beginning of our assurance firm until the end; while it is said, “TODAY IF YOU HEAR HIS VOICE, DO NOT HARDEN YOUR HEARTS, AS WHEN THEY PROVOKED ME. For who provoked Himwhen they had heard? Indeed, did not all those who came out of Egypt ledby Moses? And with whom was He angry for forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose bodies fell in the wilderness? And to whom did He swear that they should not enter His rest, but to those who were disobedient? And so we see that they were not able to enter because of unbelief.
Israel’s journey in the wilderness is a real warning for us to not harden our hearts to the Lord. We would be wise to heed this warning not just to avoid the consequences, but more importantly, to live an abundantly blessed life walking with Him!
Which do you choose?
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