This week, the portion is called Shelah Lekha (Numbers 13-15), which means “send for yourself.” The main thoughts that I have concerning it were already written down some time ago, in this post: Thou preparest a table, so this isn’t going to be a very long entry.
I wanted to recommend a few devotional pieces, as well, that I think are excellent in fleshing out the lessons one can learn from the story of the rebellious spies, from Hebrew for Christians:
Spying Eyes – on following by sight rather than faith
The Crowd and its Spies – on the dangers of crowd mentality when it comes to truth and wrongdoing
Emunah and Bittachon – an exposition of the Hebraic concepts of faith and trust/confidence
Small in our Eyes – on the importance of seeing ourselves through God’s eyes
The thoughts in all these articles are important to take to heart, in my view, because history will repeat itself yet a third time as the age of human agency draws to a close (especially where God’s people are concerned).
The first time this happened was at the borders of Canaan, when Israel had a choice of entering the Promised Land and obtaining the rest which God offered her, or being turned back to the desert to wander until a whole generation of her people expired. The second time was when Yeshua came to Jerusalem, and her inhabitants had the option of welcoming and confessing Him as their Messiah, or crucifying Him and incurring a 2000-year exile. And the third time is now – today – before He returns to judge the nations, whereupon many will yet again be cast outside the borders of His kingdom, to perish and know God’s rejection… and this time, permanently.
Humanity will not get another chance; for as the Father was refused by Israel and the Son rejected by Jerusalem, and the judgement in each case was increasingly, exponentially severe, it remains for us to heed the Spirit and respond to its work now before it’s too late – for it is those who continually resist and blaspheme the Spirit who will never be forgiven.
In that day, just as Esau found no place for repentance though he sought it diligently with tears (Hebrews 12:17; also see A mess of pottage); just as the Israelites confessed too late on the border of Canaan, “Here we are, and we will go up to the place which the Lord has promised, for we have sinned!” (Numbers 14:40) and just as Jesus wept over Jerusalem, saying, “If you had known, even you, especially in this your day, the things that make for your peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. For days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment around you, surround you and close you in on every side, and level you, and your children within you, to the ground; and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you did not know the time of your visitation” (Luke 19:42-44), so in the last day there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when the faithless will see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, with many coming “from the east and the west, from the north and the south” to sit down with them, while they themselves are thrust out (Luke 13:28-29).
This is the ultimate lesson to which Paran points, and the eternally consequential choice which faces the human race. … The thought of it at times fills me with awed dread, that just as God would condescend to such an incredible degree as to choose Israel and dwell among her tents, He would also hand down such a terrible sentence of wrath as to condemn myriads to a homeless, frightful end. And it’s something that I think we should bear in mind, for as the writer of Hebrews said, “our God is a consuming fire.”
Next week: Korah’s rebellion.