Parashat Shelach (Send Forth)
Bamidbar (Numbers) 13:1–15:41
Haftarah: Joshua 2:1–24
In my early years walking with the Lord, I would read a daily chapter from the Book of Proverbs. One of the most well-known verses that always encouraged me was from chapter 3:5-6:
Trust in the LORD with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.
As I prepared to write this week’s commentary, the above verses came to mind. I believe that making a daily choice to acknowledge God and trust Him is vital in our faith journey. We can choose to seek Him in everything that we do, even when it doesn’t make much sense from a human perspective.
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) and walk 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.”
All they were asked to do was to see that which God had already given them, trust that He would provide everything they needed in order to inherit that Land, and obey Him. However, as the story goes, 10 out of the 12 scouts leaned on their own understanding based on what they saw, rather than acknowledging and trusting God.
It is very easy to judge them from our position outside the story. However, I believe that we must ask ourselves, what would we do if we were in their place? I don’t believe that the answer is that obvious when we truly look at our personal lives and the daily challenges that many of us face.
For the 10 scouts, what they saw with their eyes made them take their eyes off God and His specific calling; the end result was that they gave a report based solely on their own understanding. Joshua Ben Nun, however, along with Calev the son of Yefune, fixed their eyes on the LORD and saw the Land through His understanding. They saw the same things as the other 10, but their eyes were still fixed on the Lord’s call, rather on the earthly things and their own understanding.
In the Haftarah, we see again the importance of trusting God and not leaning on our own understanding. God has a plan, God is in control, and God can do beyond what we can imagine, which is something we need to be reminded of daily.
In Joshua 2:1-24, we see Joshua sending this time two men to scout the Land before entering it. As I write this, I can’t help but wonder what Joshua’s instructions to them were. Is it possible that he encouraged them to trust God and not lean on their own understanding? Is it possible that those amazing words spoken by Rahab the prostitute reaffirmed God’s promises to the children of Israel?
“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.”
The scouts gave this report to Joshua, which ultimately led to the people of Israel crossing into the Promised Land, and taking Jericho by a miraculous victory:
The LORD has indeed handed over to us all the land; furthermore, all the inhabitants of the land have despaired because of us.
My dear brothers and sisters, when God asks you to do something, you can choose to trust Him and acknowledge Him. Don’t lean on your own understanding; don’t give up! You never know what victory God has already prepared for you.
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