Facing the Giants in the Land

Parashat Shelach (Send Forth)
Bamidbar (Numbers) 13:1-15:41
Haftarah: Joshua 2:1-24

I often find myself connecting the truth of God’s Word to the reality of life today. Afterall, His Word is living and breathing, and is just as relevant today as it was thousands of years ago. As I was reading this week’s Torah portion, I couldn’t help but think about the modern-day giants that we are facing in Israel.

In this week's Parashah, chapters 13 and 14 of the Book of Numbers speak of God’s instruction to the children of Israel to tour (or scout) the Land that He had allotted to them: 

Then the LORD spoke to Moses saying, “Send out for yourself men so that they may tour (scout, walk) out the land of Canaan, which I am giving to give to the sons of Israel; you shall send a man from each of their fathers’ tribes, every one a leader among them.”
Numbers 13:1–2

All they were asked to do was to see what God had already given them, trust that He would provide everything they needed to inherit that Land and obey Him. I put the word “see” in bold, because it is important for us to understand that the first call was to see and then make a choice to trust, which was to be translated to obedience.

However, as the story goes, 10 out of the 12 scouts leaned on their own understanding based on what they saw, rather than trusting, acknowledging and standing on God’s promises. For the 10, what they saw made them take their eyes off God, and His specific calling for them; the result was that they gave a report based solely on their own understanding, or in other words, from their flesh.

It can be easy for us to rush to judgment against the 10 scouts when we read the Scripture. How could they have experienced God’s miraculous provision for them in the wilderness and still tremble at the giants they saw? Yet, if we are honest with ourselves, haven’t we all had times in our lives when we have experienced God’s supernatural provision, and still panic when the next trial arises?

I immediately connected reading this Scripture portion with our current reality in Israel. Who are the modern-day “giants” that we face?  Who are they that wage war against Israel in efforts to annihilate us? Is it Hamas? ISIS? Hezbollah or Iran? The reality here in Israel can be scary; I do not want to mitigate the fear that so many of us feel every day. It feels like living in the mouth of a volancano that is starting to erupt. You can see the smoke rising and feel the rumbling underneath you constantly. You know that at any moment it will erupt and all you can do is wait for the ultimate explosion.

I believe the reality that the children of Israel faced in the days of Joshua and Caleb are similar to what we face today,with one major difference: they had to possess the faith to inherit the land that God promised, while we have to possess the faith to maintain our inheritance trusting that we serve the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God who was, is the same one who is and that will always be. He is the God of Armies (Adonai Tzeva’ot), Israel’s ultimate defender!

In the Haftarah portion (Joshua 2:1-24), we learn that Joshua sends two spies to see the Land before entering the Land of Promise. Once again, Joshua needed to demonstrate that he trusted God by his actions. As Yaakov (James) wrote, “faith without works is dead” (James 2). In other words, our faith must translate to action. If we have faith, we can also trust that God will fulfill His promises, even against all logic or human understanding. We never know how God has already prepared the ground to bring Himself glory! We see this when Rahab tells the two spies this:

I know that the LORD has given you the land, and that the terror of you has fallen on us, and that all the inhabitants of the land have despaired because of you. For we have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red Sea before you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to the two kings of the Amorites who were beyond the Jordan, to Sihon and Og, whom you utterly destroyed. When we heard these reports, our hearts melted and no courage remained in anyone any longer because of you; for the Lord your God, He is God in heaven above and on earth below.”
Joshua 2:9-11

I would like to encourage us all to stand strong on the Lord’s promises and to continue to trust Him as we face modern-day giants in the Land!

Shabbat Shalom,

Check out previous blogs on this parashah!

Did you know? — Lone Soldier

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