Put the Flock Before Yourself

The Torah reading this Shabbat of June 5, 2021 is Shelach Lechah – Numbers 13:1 – 15:41. The reading from the prophets is from Joshua 2:1 – 24. From the New Testament we are reading Hebrews 3:7-4:1.

Every week when I read the Torah portion (the parasha) and the portion from the prophets (the haftarah) and from the New Testament texts, I find something relevant to the current situation in the land of Israel.

Israel like the rest of the world has gone through a horrible near two years of coronavirus tribulation. Although I can honestly say that, thanks to our prime minister who took intelligent decisions, and Israel is one of the countries that vaccinated the population early and put this pandemic under bearable control, it was still over a year and a half of a triple tribulation.

We had the coronavirus to deal with. We had the internal political total mess to deal with. There has been no country in the history of modern democracies that in 18 months, during a pandemic, had four election campaigns.

The third near-disaster was the relationship with our Arab/Palestinian neighbors from the Gaza Strip. This last round in the month of May 2021 was one of the worst war-like confrontations with the terrorist organization of Hamas/Hezbollah.

The flood of more than 4000 rockets that were launched at Israeli cities, villages, kibbutz farms, was like 12 days in a “Star Wars” attack of the aliens from the hellish planet Gaza. A non-stop 11 days of steel and explosives raining down on cities like Ashdod, Ashkelon, Sderoth, Be’er-Sheva, Holon, Bat-Yam, Tel-Aviv, and Jerusalem.

These rockets, with explosive heads carrying over 400 pounds (200 kilograms), were aimed at civilian neighborhoods with the fully-malicious intent of killing as many civilians as possible. To create terror who’s aim was to take steps and measures (metaphorically speaking) from the notebooks of Adolf Hitler.

The aim of the Hamas and the other Arab/Palestinian terrorist organizations is not a secret. It is written signed and ratified. To delete Israel and the Jewish people out of the God-given land of Israel.

I can sincerely say that the majority of Israel is grateful to the almighty God, and father of our Lord Yeshua the Messiah for His mercy and protection. And also thankful and more then grateful to the Israeli military and Air Force that was able to intercept 85 percent of the 4000+ rockets (made in Iran with the inspiration of North Korea).

The 15 percent that the “Iron Dome” was not able to intercept hit apartment buildings, private homes, schools, and kindergartens, businesses, roads, and parking lots. The Hamas and the other terrorist organizations hiding like rats under the ground aimed their rockets at civilians, including civilian children, and elderly people, and adults, who were killed in Israel, while much private property was destroyed.

The Israeli Air Force bombed Gaza terrorist installations and underground tunnels that were created and intended for military/terrorist aims. Yes, it is true that the Israeli Air Force did everything possible to avoid any collateral damage to civilians. It is also true that the terrorist organizations use human shields planted by force in and around their storage for rockets, and military factories that put these rockets together.

This is the plain and simple reason why there are more casualties of war in Gaza than there are in Israel. The number killed in Gaza is about 250 people, including several children. This number is four times the number of casualties in Israel.

The United Nations condemned Israel for killing more people in Gaza than were killed in Israel, in Israel the number of dead is about 60 people. The wave of anti-Semitic attacks on Jews in the streets of New York City, Los Angeles, London, Paris, and others increased by thousands of percents.

In Israel, the internal Arab/Palestinian terrorism carried out by young Arab criminal gangs and the lynching of innocent people is a very alarming new type of Arab terrorism, internally in our ancient biblical cities like Lod (Lyda) and Jaffa, a new phenomenon. I am sharing these things now because this so-called old/new phenomenon is actually a repetition of the actions of Amalek in the Bible.

The Jewish Disciples of Yeshua (the Messianic Jews) in Israel uniformly believe in coexistence and good neighborly relationships with our Arab/Palestinian neighbors. Here is what I am asking you to do in the name of our Lord, our God and Father.

  1. Pray for Israel and pray for our Arab/Palestinian neighbors to find the true path of God – the path of good neighbors and of peaceful coexistence in this land that the children of Abraham are fated to share as brothers.
  2. Pray for the governments of the world to do all that is possible to protect the Jewish population and to stop and quench the present wave of anti-Jewish terrorist attacks in the streets of the major cities of the world.
  3. Share and teach your communities that to hate Jews or to hate anyone for no rational reason is against God Himself, be it the almighty God of Abraham and His seed or Allah or Jesus.
  4. Stand and give moral and political support to the Jewish communities in your countries and cities.
  5. Go out and participate in pro-Israel demonstrations and don’t be shy to do it as Christians who love Israel and the Jewish people, and stand firm against anti-Semitic actions and false propaganda against Jews.
  6. Do all you can to support the Jewish and Arab/Palestinian disciples of Yeshua (Jesus) in the land of Israel and in your own cities and countries.

Now a few words on the Torah reading for this Shabbat:

Shelach Lecha is the portion that introduces us to the sending out of the twelve “spies” to spy out the land of Canaan. This mission that Moses agrees to and chooses leaders from the 12 tribes of Israel becomes one of the pivotal events in the 40 years of wilderness wondering in the Sinai desert.

What becomes traumatic in the history of Israel is the negative report of ten of these leaders of the tribes of Israel. The two who understood better how the Lord works, Joshua the son of Nun and Caleb the son of Jephunneh came with a report that is simple, based on truth and on faith in the Lord God of Israel. This mission of the 12 men to spy out the country of Canaan becomes a major lesson of faith for all ages.

The second thing that is in our Torah reading this Shabbat is also extremely important to read and understand. Due to the lack of faith of the people of Israel and the demoralization of the people because of the report of the ten spies, the Lord’s anger was kindled and a plague came from God on the people. The people murmured and again regretted leaving Egypt and being freed from slavery. God’s anger was so great that He wanted to end His relationship with the people of Israel and start a new nation based on Moses.

I believe that the motivation of the Lord was to test not only the people but to test Moses himself and see if these people were able to muster enough character and faith to be able to fulfill the calling and to handle the promises that God gave to Abraham. God wanted to see of what kind of material Moses was made, and if he is thinking of his own good or the good of the whole nation that will be following him in the wilderness for nearly forty years.

So, God offers Moses:

“Then the Lord said to Moses: ‘How long will these people reject Me? And how long will they not believe Me, with all the signs which I have performed among them? I will strike them with the pestilence and disinherit them, and I will make of you a nation greater and mightier than they.’” – Numbers 14:11,12 [NKJV]

The answer that Moses gives to the Lord here is a great lesson for us today and for every leader of God’s people around the world. God gives Moses an offer that Moses’s can’t refuse. I will make you a nation greater and mightier than they (than Israel). Moses does not fail the test this is what Moses answer God as a response to God’s offer:

“Now if You kill these people as one man, then the nations which have heard of Your fame will speak, saying, ‘Because the Lord was not able to bring this people to the land which He swore to give them, therefore He killed them in the wilderness.’ And now, I pray, let the power of my Lord be great, just as You have spoken, saying, ‘The Lord is long suffering and abundant in mercy, forgiving iniquity and transgression; but He by no means clears the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and fourth generation.’ Pardon the iniquity of this people, I pray, according to the greatness of Your mercy, just as You have forgiven this people, from Egypt even until now.” – Numbers 14:15-19 [NKJV]

What is the essence of the answer that Moses gives to God:

  1. Your reputation around the world will be lost. The nations will attribute to You evil intentions and weakness and inability to keep Your promises to the people of Israel; “you are not able to bring this people to the land which you swore to give them…”
  2. This kind of action that You are proposing to me and the desire to kill all of Israel is not according to Your character, and it is against Your nature as God who created this world and has chosen Abraham and his seed to bless all the nations of the world.
  3. As you are the Lord (verses 17-19), “long suffering and abundant in mercy, forgiving iniquity… Pardon the iniquity of this people!”
  4. Moses calls to the Lord and says, “Pardon the iniquity of this people, I pray, according to the greatness of your mercy…”

Moses refuses to take the offer that God gives him. He turns the tables to God and says, Lord this is not like You. Your suggestion is not true to Your character and I ask You, O Lord, please forgive these people because this is Your nature.

Here is what I learn from this very important episode:

  1. God is not an autocrat. He is open and willing to hear and listen, which is what His righteous and loving and longsuffering nature represents.
  2. The Lord might offer us some great and wonderful offers, but it does not mean that we ought to think selfishly only about what is good for us personally.
  3. Sometimes God tests us with good offers, “temptations” that look wonderful but test where our hearts and our desires reside. If we especially think of what is good for us personally or for our families, and forget that we are called to serve God and His people… if we choose what is good for us and not what is good for the flock that God has given us, we might be failing our calling and our fall will surely come…
  4. Leaders of God’s people, here is some homework for you: please read Ezekiel chapter 34, the whole chapter.

This article originally appeared on Netivyah and is reposted with permission.