Updated: Oct 11
[23-29 June 2024]
Theme of the Book of Numbers:
Desert life whilst here on earth. Between Egypt & Promised Land. Faith is the key.
Meaning of "sh'lach" = "send"
This week's Torah portions:
Sunday: Numbers 13:1-15:41
Monday: Numbers 13:21-14:7
Tuesday: Numbers 14:8-25
Wednesday: Numbers 14:26-15:7
Thursday: Numbers 15:8-16
Friday: Numbers 15:17-26
Shabbat: Numbers 15:27-41 & Joshua 2:1-24
Daily Bread for Busy Moms portions:
1 Corinthians 14-16
2 Corinthians 1-2
This week's message is such a profound one for me! We are in our fourth portion of the book of Numbers and here we read about the twelve spies that was sent to spy on Canaan, the Promised Land. They returned after 40 days with a massive bunch of grapes, a pomegranate and a fig. They reported that the land was overflowing with milk and honey!
However, besides the plentiful products of the land of Canaan - ten of the twelve spies came back with negative news about the giants (offspring of the nephilim) that lived in Canaan. It was only Joshua & Caleb who came back with a positive report and who said that the Israelites would be able to conquer the land.
In this portion we see how the Israelites were dismayed by the report of the ten negative spies and they said that they would rather go back to Egypt - the hardships which they were familiar with. Because of the Israelites' complaints Abba declared that that generation will not enter into the promised land as a result of their disbelief. They didn't believe that Abba would fulfill the promise He gave them. As a result of their lack of faith, they all died in the desert.
Some of the Israelites were upset with Abba's verdict and they took matters into their own hands - trying to enter Canaan. They all died. Now one might wonder why they died when the land of Canaan was promised to them. Hoewever, we have to realise that those Israelites took matters in their own hands, they were punished for their lack of faith. Instead of repenting for their unbelief - they took matters into their own hands and failed. With Abba it would have been possible to conquer the Amalakites & Cananites who lived in Canaan, but they were not living in obedience to Him.
In Zecheriah 4:6 we read "...Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the Lord of hosts."
There's a wrong way and a right way to handle situations. When Abba has given us a promise we shouldn't take things into our own hands to retrieve that promise. Instead we have to turn back to Him and surrender at His feet. In His perfect time, He will make it happen for us. All we have to do is be obedient.
We also read in this portion about certain laws and instructions that were given with regards to the meal offerings. We also read about the instructions regarding the consecration of the "challah" (bread) which was made for Shabbat.
The normal Hebrew word for "bread" is "lechem" (לָ֫חֶם). But the word "challah" (חַלָּה) is the word that's used for the bread that's made for Shabbat (Sabbath). Challah is thus consecrated bread.
In this portion we read about one person who went out to pick up sticks on Shabbat and thus violated the instruction that we are to refrain from work on Shabbat. He was put to death for his violation. Today we know that we won't necesarily die physically when we are disobedient to Abba's instructions. However, we will die spiritually! His instructions are there not to punish us or to make our lives hard. It's there to confrom our lives to His standards - so that we could experience the harvest we can have in Him.
The portion closes off with the instruction regarding the tzitzit (צִיצִית). The tzitzit is the 4 ropes you see on the corners of a prayer shawl. Each rope is a combination of 4 ropes that are tied together in a very specific manner, which we'll take a look at later. The tzitzit are also often worn on the 4 corners of garments. It's worn as a physical reminder of covenant. Parashat Sh'lach is all about a covenant of promises. The late Gerrit Nel phrased it so beautifully in his Torah teaching on their website Kol Kallah. He said that "faith is based on a covenant with promises." If we don't understand this principle we might have faith, but it would not be founded and grounded correctly. Our faith have to be solidly grounded in the fact that we are in covenant with the King of kings. The covenant in which we stand with Him has promises! What a blessing!
Sh'lach is the Hebrew word for "send." It's thus about "sending" the spies to spy on the land of Canaan which Abba has promised to give to the Israelites. The Israelites sent one person from each tribe, except from the Levitical tribe. Which is pretty interesting, as Abba gave the Promised Land as an inheritance to Israel. As we learned in one of the former portions, the tribe of Levi didn't inherit physical land like the rest of the Israelites did, since the tithes of each of the other tribes would be paid to the Levites. Therefore, it wasn't necesary to send someone from the Levitical tribe along with the other 12 tribe members to spy on Canaan.
The Israelites were in the desert for 40 years. With Noah and the ark: it rained for 40 days and 40 nights (Gen 5-9). Yeshua fasted for 40 days (Matt 4). 40 is the number for judgement. The spies were out there spying on Canaan for 40 days. They were sent to "judge" the land - to see if it would be possible for them to move there. We know that 10 of the 12 spies came back with a negative judgement. It was only Caleb and Joshua who came back with a positive judgement. Joshua was from the tribe of Ephraim and Caleb was from the tribe of Judah. Several years later, when the kingdom of Israel was divided into two - it was these two tribes who took leadership over all 12 tribes. Judah reigned in the southern kingdom and Ephraim reigned in the northern kingdom.
Caleb and Joshua's feedback differed from the other 10 spies' feedback. In Numbers 14:24 we read that Caleb had a different spirit in him. Meaning that his faith enabled him to follow Abba's will despite the other spies' negative views.
There's a lot we can learn from both Joshua and Caleb which still apply to our lives today!
The Israelites had a choice to take Joshua and Caleb's word about Canaan or to believe the other spies who had negative feedback about Canaan. And they choose to believe the negative feedback. So they started to complain, Abba said that because of their lack of faith - that generation will not enter the promised land. They had remorse, but instead of turning back to Abba, some of them decided to take matters into their own hands. Later on in the New Testament, we see Judas doing the same - he also had remorse for betraying Yeshua. But instead of repenting he hanged himself. How often do we do the same? We steer away from Abba's instructions and instead of repenting and turning back to Him - we take matters into our own hands. We can never rectify things in the flesh or in our own power!
Abba is in the restoration business. We all make mistakes and we all wander off from time to time. He's not expecting of us to be perfect or never make mistakes. He knows that we will sometimes wander off because our flesh is weak. The problem does not lie in us making mistakes, the problem lies in the way we attempt to rectify those mistakes. It's not about perfection but about living life with a repentant heart. Some of the giants you are facing in your life might not be as a result of your own doings but thankfully for His unfathomable grace and mercy - we can repent on behalf of those who have come before us as well for our own wrongdoings. And Abba can restore us! However, He can only restore us once we turn back to Him and repent for going astray.
When we take a look at the life of David, we know that Abba calls him "a man after His own heart!" Yet, we all know that David have made almost every mistake and wrong choice in his life that he possibly could have! What was diffrent from David compared to others who also made mistakes, was that David ALWAYS lived with a repentant heart. He was never afraid to run back to Abba and admit that he has gone astray and needed Abba's forgiveness and restoration in His life.
So what was different to David compared to others? David KNEW that his faith was founded in the covenant he had with God! And we have that same covenant! Knowing this should change our entire perspective and faith walk!
When David came face to face with Goliath - everyone freaked out because Goliath was a giant. But David knew that he was rooted in the covenant with Abba - and that changed his entire perspective. It enabled him to act upon the covenant.
The story of David and Goliath links with the 10 spies who came back and reported that they (Israel) looked like grasshopers in the eyes of the giants who lived in Canaan.
If we live life like grasshoppers, we won't be able to keep our eyes focused on God and His promises for our lives. And as a result, we take matters into our own hands - hopping from one thing to the other. Grasshoppers don't look up too often - they are content to be in a field, where everything is small and nothing reaches the heavens. In Psalms 92, grass is compared to the wicked, who are widespread and fast growing but shallow. Compared to the righteous, who are like palm trees - tall, not so widespread / not so many, but deeply rooted. When we lose focus on our covenant with Abba, we become like grasshoppers / grass instead of like palms - deeply rooted. Getting rooted takes time and effort and a whole lot of faith.
To walk by faith is not about fixing things in our own strength. It's about returning to Abba and allowing Him to "fix" things.
As mentioned earlier, this portion also had the instructions about the challah (bread) which was connected to Shabbat. Shabbat is all about entering into His rest, and allowing Him to complete His work in us.
This portion brings such an amazing principle together. Faith in the covenant with promises and entering His rest. In other words, we can rest in the knowing that Abba has made a covenant with us. And more so, we can repent and turn back to Him whenever we have gone astray. When we rest in Him, we can KNOW that He WILL make His covenant come to fulfillment!
Everytime we eat challah bread, it serves as a reminder to us. A reminder that Abba will keep His Word, He will fulfill His promises and that there's a harvest that's ready for us! Will you step in faith into that promise?
In this portion Abba comes and ask the Israelites to enter into His rest, to trust Him and trust that He will fulfill His promises. After that, He told them that they need a reminder - not only the challah which they ate once a week - but a daily reminder. Therefore, the wore the tzitzit that was tied to their garments.
The way in which the tzitzit was bound added to 613 knots & turns. Each tzitzit consisted of 4 strands: 1 blue strand and 3 white / cream ones. The blue strand represents Yeshua. The first part (before the first knot) is turned 7 times around. And the second part is turned around 8 times.
7 + 8 = 15
All of the letters of the Hebrew alphabet have numeric values. 15 is the numeric value of the Name of God = YH (יה or pronounced Yod Heh / Yah). The third part has 11 turns, which is the VH (וה or pronounced Vav Heh). Which represents man which is created in the image of God. Thus the tzitzit symbolises that God & man are connected (the first 3 parts). And the fourth part has 13 turns. 13 is the number for the Hebrew word "echad" (אֶחָד) which means covenant / unity / one. Thus the tzitzit symbolises that God and man are joined together in covenant! The covenant is not only based on purity (the white strands) - because we are imperfect people. But there's also a blue cord which represents Yeshua. Even back in the times where the Israelites received the instruction of the tzitzit, Abba knew that it was symbolic and a shadow of what's to come. This is nothing too big for us to prevent us from conquering our promised land when we are rooted in Abba!
When we look at all the numerical symbolism of the tzitzit, it adds up to 613 - which links with the 613 instructions that's given in the Torah. Symbolising that there are covenental promises connected to these instructions.
Just like the 12 spies had to go and spy out the promised land, so we should also go out and "spy out" the promises which Abba has spoken over our lives. And we can do so like Joshua and Caleb - knowing that there is no opposition, no giants / mountains too big to conquer with Abba. There is nothing too big for us to conquer our promised land when we are rooted in Abba's coventant!
When our faith is based on the covenant, we can rest in the knowing that the promises WILL be fulfilled.
This portion is our reminder to remain faithful and to not test God. We shouldn't be like the Israelites, who didn't trust God. As a result of their unbelief they remained in the desert for 40 years.
Abba can do the unthinkable! Do you believe that?
It's easy to judge the choices of the people which we read about in the Bible. From our point of view, we know the promises which Abba had in store for them. It's almost like we are reading the stories from the end to the start. Then it's easy to say things like "why didn't Eve just make the right choice?" Or "why didn't the Israelites just trust God?"
Have you ever considered that we are no different today? We are so quick to judge the Israelites and other Bible characters for their unbelief... and we don't realise that we are doing exactly the same today!
We are so quick to lose focus and lose hope when life becomes hard. A few years from now, if someone were to document our lives - I can guarentee you that the readers would be saying things like "why didn't he/she just believe in Abba's promises." Because those people will read our stories backwards - from the end to the start.
When you judge things from the end to the start, it's easy to see Abba's hand woven in every moment like a little golden thread. And it's easy to say that we would have done things differently. But when you LIVE from the start to finish, it's only human to sometimes lose hope and doubt - because the enemy will continiously come with lies against you to get you off track & to derail you from walking in Abba's provision and plan for your life.
May this portion encourage you to hold onto your faith for dear life when everything in your life tells you to lose hope.
The entire Bible is proof that Abba ALWAYS comes through for those who believe in Him and hold onto Him. He will do the same for you!
If you would like to learn more about the tying of tzitzit and the meaning behind it all, you can go read this article: https://www.bethmelekh.com/yaakovs-commentary/category/tzitzit
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Portion 33: Sh'lach (The blog you are reading now)