The parsha this week is Shelach or “and they were sent”. Moses sends twelve spies from the Israelite camp, a representative from each of the tribes (except for Levi) to check out the land of promise including its inhabitants, produce, and the set up of the land. Like Texas (the land of my birth) EVERYTHING was bigger in the promised land. The grapes were so big that they had to be carried on poles between eight men and the people in the land were so big that it made the majority of the spies feel like grasshoppers. If you remember the song, you know that there were 10 bad spies and 2 good spies. Bad spies:they brought back a bad report choosing to focus on the obstacle of the people already in the land.Good spies:they brought a good report focusing on God who was able to go with them and give them victory.
This scene changes the way the rest of the Torah plays out. At this point, it has only been a matter of weeks since the Israelites left slavery in Egypt and God is sending them into the land that he has promised them. The ten spies encourage the community to raise up another leader who will take them back to Egypt. As a result, these bad spies are killed and no one from the generation of adults alive at this time (except for Joshua and Caleb, the good spies) will be allowed to enter the promised land. It will now be 40 years before they are given what God has promised them and it is their children who will get to experience it. These people have to learn to stop longing for the slavery they know and start longing for (and believing) the rest that God has promised them. The ten bad spies were disobedient and didn’t believe or trust God. They led the majority of the camp in their wickedness. We need to be people who believe God even when it is hard and even when it is the minority opinion. God promised goodness in the land of Canaan and God promises an eternal rest in Y’shua. Hebrews 3 & 4 connect these events. Hebrews 3:12 says it this way, “see to it brothers, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God.” The bad spies had hearts that were turned away from God and so they didn’t believe him. We don’t want to be like them. Instead, we want to be like Joshua and Caleb who saw God’s power as being sufficient and acted on their faith.
Shabbat Shalom Camp Gilgal,