Shela Lekha
For the week of June 16, 2001 / 25 Sivan 5761
Torah: Bemidbar / Numbers 13:1 - 15:41
Haftarah: Joshua 2:1-24


Joshua son of Nun and Caleb son of Jephunneh, who were among those who had explored the land, tore their clothes and said to the entire Israelite assembly, "The land we passed through and explored is exceedingly good. If the LORD is pleased with us, he will lead us into that land, a land flowing with milk and honey, and will give it to us. Only do not rebel against the LORD. And do not be afraid of the people of the land, because we will swallow them up. Their protection is gone, but the LORD is with us. Do not be afraid of them." (Bemidbar / Numbers 14:6-9).

God's purpose in sending Moses to Pharaoh, King of Egypt, was not simply to lead the people of Israel out of slavery. It was also their time to enter the Promised Land. For 400 years they lived in Egypt with the awareness that one day they would have their own land, which God promised them through their ancestors Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

Now the time had finally come. The people were at the brink of receiving their inheritance. The problem was it was not offered to them "on a silver platter" so to speak. The Promised Land was not preserved virgin territory just waiting for the people to arrive. The Land of Israel was still the Land of Canaan occupied by several intimidating people groups, who were not exactly warmly anticipating the arrival of the Israelites.

Yet this was the God-appointed time for them to acquire the Promised Land. But only two out of the twelve who went in to check out the Land confidently believed that they could do it. The vast majority thought it was a lost cause, and wanted to return to Egypt.

What was it that gave Joshua and Caleb the confidence they had? What set them apart from the others? It wasn't that they had a better time in the Holy Land than the others. You know how people's experience of a place can color how they look at it, but there was nothing contradictory in their reports. They all saw the goodness of the land and the same inhabitants.

It is not that they knew God's promise better than the others. They all knew why they went to check out the land. It was to prepare them for entering it. There wasn't a question of whether or not they would do it, at least not until they returned.

It wasn't that Joshua and Caleb had experienced more of God's power. All the people were aware of the miracles of God to that point. They had all witnessed the ten plagues, the parting of the Sea, the provision of the manna, and so on.

All twelve of them knew what God had said and what he could do. And yet only Joshua and Caleb had confidence in facing the challenge of entering the Land.

The difference was, unlike the others, they believed God. They were the only ones who were able to apply what the whole nation had seen and heard to the current situation. They knew that if their taking the Land was something that God wanted, nothing or no one could stand in their way. Yet for the others all the miracles in the world could not make a difference.

How many times have we thought that if only we could experience more of the power of God in our lives then we would trust him more? Or we think that if we could learn more of God's truth, then we would face life's challenges with confidence.

While it is most helpful to experience God and know his Word, this story vividly shows us that these things will never cause us to have confidence in God. This confidence isn't created by experience and learning. It comes from a heart of faith. Faith is a decision deep in our hearts to trust God no matter what the circumstances might be. The heart of faith knows that if God says something, then it is true. And if he tells us to do something, then we can be confident in him do it.

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