Shelach - שלח - "Send"Numbers 13:1-15:41
But Caleb quieted the people before Moses and said, “Let us go up at once and occupy it, for we are well able to overcome it.” 31 Then the men who had gone up with him said, “We are not able to go up against the people, for they are stronger than we are.” 32 So they brought to the people of Israel a bad report of the land that they had spied out, saying, “The land, through which we have gone to spy it out, is a land that devours its inhabitants, and all the people that we saw in it are of great height. 33 And there we saw the Nephilim (the sons of Anak, who come from the Nephilim), and we seemed to ourselves like grasshoppers, and so we seemed to them.” (Numbers 13:30-33)
Recently I had a conversation with a very good friend of mine. In the conversation I told her that I have been praying for God to increase my faith. With much love and great wisdom she tells me, “That is easy, faith is believing in God’s word no matter what.” Since that day I have stopped asking for faith and instead I’ve been asking for more wisdom.In last week’s Torah portion we talked about how our actions do not produce righteousness, it is our faith which produces righteousness, now I have a better understanding as to why. Faith in God is a struggle against the logic of this world, the logic of our flesh.
The logic of this world is filled with physical limitations and from birth we are taught to live by these limitations, but once we start to believe in God, those limitations will begin to bend and at times even break because faith is a totally different type of logic. Faith believes in God’s word no matter what. When we have faith in God there are times when this world’s logic must be thrown out the window, let us look at some examples of this.
In Genesis 22, God tells Abraham to kill Isaac as a way to test his faith. As a father, I would venture to say that Abraham probably had a moment of questioning the logic of this command. Isaac is the promised son! Whether or not Abraham wrestled with this command, the Bible does not say, but we all know what happened.
Then they came to the place of which God had told him; and Abraham built the altar there and arranged the wood, and bound his son Isaac and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. 10 Abraham stretched out his hand and took the knife to slay his son. 11 But the angel of the Lord called to him from heaven and said, “Abraham, Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” 12 He said, “Do not stretch out your hand against the lad, and do nothing to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me.” (Genesis 22:9-12)
At some point in time, Abraham’s faith had to clash with his worldly logic. If I was in Abraham’s position, after questioning whether or not it was really God who told me to kill my son, my next train of thought would have been, “If I kill Isaac then God would have lied about him being the promised child and if God lied about that then maybe all those other promises are not true.” We have no idea what was going on in Abraham’s mind during this situation, but at some point in time he came to the decision that he would throw worldly logic out the window and believe in God no matter what.
Logic dictates that killing your one and only son is a bad idea, but faith told him that no matter what happened he was coming back down from that mountain with a live and healthy Isaac because of who God is.
Next, let us look at David.
Then Saul said to David, “You are not able to go against this Philistine to fight with him; for you are but a youth while he has been a warrior from his youth.” 34 But David said to Saul, “Your servant was tending his father’s sheep. When a lion or a bear came and took a lamb from the flock, 35 I went out after him and attacked him, and rescued it from his mouth; and when he rose up against me, I seized him by his beard and struck him and killed him. 36 Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear; and this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, since he has taunted the armies of the living God.” 37 And David said, “The Lord who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear, He will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.” And Saul said to David, “Go, and may the Lord be with you”. (1 Samuel 17:33-37)
In the story of David and Goliath, we see the armies of Israel scared of a giant. The Philistines did not want a full out war just as much as Israel did not want it, so they sent out their mightiest warrior to resolve the conflict in a one on one duel. Logic would dictate that if a man is wearing armor, is way bigger and stronger than you, there is no way you can win in a fair fight. The armies of Israel were operating in the logic of this world and then came David. David was not born with the faith that we see in 1 Samuel, his faith was the product of trials. David’s faith in defeating Goliath was based on the fact that he successfully defeated a lion and a bear in previous situations.
When we look at the logic of this world, there is no possible way that a small boy can overcome an attack from a lion or a bear. In today’s world it might be possible if that boy has a powerful gun and knows how to use it, but back then could it be possible at all even if they had a sword or spear? At some point in time David realized that his victory against the lion and the bear was because of God, once David processed that information he began to realize a very important truth; God overrides the logic of this world. As God’s people we should not be afraid of anything or anyone according to Deuteronomy 28:1-14, this is why David was upset to see the armies of Israel afraid of this “uncircumcised Philistine.” To David, it made no sense for the armies of Israel to be afraid, Israel is God’s kingdom!
This is why David marched up to Saul with great confidence and insisted on fighting Goliath, and we all know how that ended.Faith is a different type of logic. The logic of this world is based on the physical rules of this world, it is logic of the flesh based on what the flesh can and cannot do and based on systems created by man. However, faith is a logic that is based on God and who He is. When you understand who God is, then you will understand that He will never go back on His word. God is trustworthy, He loves and protects those who love Him, and He wants a relationship with us.
The more you get to know God on a personal level, the more you will be in awe of Him, the more you are in awe of Him the more you will begin understand that He is to be feared more than anything or anyone. Once you understand God, faith begins to supersede the logic of this world. In this week’s Torah portion 12 men snuck into Canaan to give a report of the Promised Land. They all saw the same thing; however, 10 of those men were operating in the logic of this world but 2 of the 12 men were operating on the logic of who God is.
The 10 men were not lying when they said that there was Giants in the land and it was filled with fortified cities. The logic of this world says that it would be impossible to overcome these obstacles. But to Caleb and Joshua it did not matter what obstacles were in the land, God said that He gave this land to Israel so Caleb and Joshua believed it. To Caleb and Joshua it did not matter if they saw the entire US Marines with tanks and all, Transformers or the entire clone army of the Empire from Star Wars, they still would have said, “Let’s go now!” because they know who God is.
Do not misunderstand what I’m saying, the logic of this world is not all bad, without it many people would be out there killing themselves and others in a far greater capacity than we see today. The logic of this world is 100% truth for those who do not believe in God. However, once you believe in God and you begin to hold on to His word, the logic of this world becomes secondary. A great example of this can be found in the book of Daniel.In Daniel chapter 3, Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego were placed in a very tough situation. Torah is very clear about worshiping other gods and carved images but
Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego were placed in a situation where they had to choose between doing what God wants them to do or possibly losing their lives.
Back in Genesis 22:9-12, after Abraham proved that he was willing to kill Isaac at the command of God, God said, “for now I know that you fear God.” Proverbs 7:1 says that, “fear of God is the beginning of knowledge.” Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego knew God and their knowledge of God produced a fear that was second to none and we can see this when they are confronted by king Nebuchadnezzar.
Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego replied to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to give you an answer concerning this matter. 17 If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the furnace of blazing fire; and He will deliver us out of your hand, O king. 18 But even if He does not, let it be known to you, O king, that we are not going to serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.” (Daniel 3:16-18)
The unknown author of Hebrews stated that, “Without faith it is impossible to please God.” Although we exhibit our faith daily by our lifestyle and character, pure faith is revealed through trials. If you look at all the examples that this commentary has brought up thus far, we could not see faith in action without trials.
It is easy to be a Christian or a believer when you have no problems, but when you are faced with a trial, how you respond to the challenge reveals the truth about your faith. Just as God tested Abraham to see where his faith was, God tests all of us in the same manor, our tests may not be as extreme as Abraham’s: Maybe God has you in an unfavorable situation at work; are you complaining about it?
Do you have a bad attitude about it? Or do you trust in God no matter what? You may be in a bad situation with your spouse. Are you bitter about it?
Are you retaliating against your spouse? Or do you trust in God no matter what? You may have lost your job and can’t find another, are you losing hope in God? Or do you trust in God and His Word no matter what?
Faith is simple; believe in God, believe in His word and believe in His promises no matter what. If you have a hard time believing in God during those tough times, then maybe you don’t really know who God is. Get into His word, Seek God with all you’ve got and He will reveal Himself to you. Once God has revealed Himself to you, then you will begin to love Him and fear Him. The more you know God, the great your faith and fear of Him will increase.