This week the synagogues are reading from Numbers 13:1-15:41 the Hebrew name is Shelach Lecha (“Send Out for Yourself”). This section of the Torah that will be read in the Synagogues around the world is so incredibly significant especially for our days of Coronavirus.
From the Prophets we are going to be reading Joshua 2:1-24, and from the New Testament Hebrews 3:7-19. The Torah portion is very formative because it tells the story of Moses sending the 12 top leaders from each tribe.
The presidents of the tribes are gathered by Moses by God’s command.
“And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying: ‘Send men to spy out the land of Canaan, which I am giving to the children of Israel; from each tribe of their fathers you shall send a man, every one a leader among them.’” – Num. 13:1,2 [NKJV]
This is a reasonable command by God. Moses and the twelve tribes of Israel, numbering at least a million plus, are entering into the land of Canaan. Canaan is not a desert, an uninhabited land like the desert of Sinai.
Canaan is a settled land. A land of fortified city-states, a land of several ethnic groups who have settled between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea. We know the names of these ethnic groups, and we even know where they came from to settle down in the land of Israel.
It is reasonable to send men to spy out the land! God does not need the information of who lives there with what kinds of fortifications and what these nations trade with and other relevant information like what kind of fruit and vegetables grow in this God-given land of promise.
The task of an intelligence officer is to bring information. If the intelligence officer brings relevant information, he has done his job and his responsibility has been fulfilled and with this he has completed his responsibility.
Normally speaking you do not take such important leaders and send them to do some spying in a land that they have never visited. God told Moses “send men” – God did not say chose the presidents, the leader of each tribe – the most respected men ought to go and spy out the land of Canaan.
The best human material to send for such a mission is the men and women who are the common folk that are humble enough to be trained and are able to learn and not those who are elite and spoiled with the privileges of rank and status in the community.
I imagine that Moses had some political considerations that gave him the idea that the presidents, leaders, of the tribes ought to be sent to see and spy out the land and bring their reports.
Maybe Moses, who was raised in the palaces of Egypt was used to being surrounded by VIP’s. Although, the forty years spent as a shepherd tending his father-in-law Jethro’s flocks probably had humbled Moses.
But the fact is that Moses sent the leaders of each tribe to spy out the land of Canaan. These men did a good job of gathering information. They did collect the relevant information, and all agreed on the facts. The freedom that these men took to themselves was to make the recommendation of what would be possible and advisable for the whole nation of Israel to do.
They took for themselves executive privileges that were not granted or included in their mission statement. This type of overstepping our authority and our mission statement is not uncommon even today and, in all disciplines, but it is especially glaring when it is seen among church leaders.
We are servants, none of us, teachers, pastors, elders, professors of theology, or Bible teachers, is a boss or an owner of the church, the body of Christ. The word says:
“There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.” – Ephesians 4:4-6 [NKJV]
There are other texts in the Bible that say the same thing, but there is not one single text between Genesis and Revelation that says, “Jack the knife is the Lord of the Church” – “Jack the knife ministry” – “The church of Jack the knife.”
Now what we are seeing in the Christian world is that men, just like you and me are taking to themselves a personal ownership to the church and to the ministry of the church. The administration of the church is arbitrarily carried on by the boss of the church. Although we do know that God gave the church and the five ministries, “And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers.” These five are not offices, they are services that are setup by God to serve the church.
These five ministries are not a replacement of the “Boss,” nor are they executive rights that give the men in these services authority over the body of Christ. We are all servants and we don’t have the right to re-write the Bible and change commands and practices and commandments or to make executive decisions.
This is what ten of the 12 spies did when they came back from their journey. They decided that they are responsible to make the decision of what God can do and what God can’t do and what Moses ought to decide, because they are the wisest and the smartest and the most talented CEO’s of their ten tribes.
So, what can we learn from this overly complicated situation:
- The facts are facts and all of the 12 spies gave the same facts.
- The reports of all the 12 spies were based on their experience. Their experience was the same too.
- The 10 spies looked at the reality of the situation without taking into account that there is a God who is the master and boss of this universe and He is the one that makes things happen in His world and our trust in Him is our trust in the fulfillment of His promises.
This is what we call faith – it is the ability to trust that the Lord God of Israel is a faithful God who keeps His promises even to the smallest detail.
It is hard for leaders, presidents of tribes, pastors, preachers, teachers and “prophets” to remember who they are, that there is truly a God who is the Big Boss of all and that all of them are only employed in the local post office.
The job and calling of all the religious functionaries, pastors, teachers, elders, preachers, prophets, is to receive and forward messages of God and to clean the diapers of the church members and put them to work spreading the good news, that Yeshua is coming back.
The minute that today’s church leaders think that the church is theirs and that they are the owners and bosses of the body of Christ locally, nationally, or internationally, as it is with some big-time preachers who need at least three or four face lifts and plastic surgeries to keep their smile constant, they will all be like the 10 spies who gave the right data, but had the wrong prognoses – they forgot that the real boss and father and savior is omnipresent and all-powerful both in the heavens and on Earth, and all of us humans are like grasshoppers in the presence of the almighty Lord of heaven and Earth.
Another important point is that if we really believe in a living and all-powerful God who is faithful to keep His promises, the conclusion will always be like that of Caleb and Joshua, trusting the all-powerful God and looking beyond the reality on Earth into the promises of heaven.
The 10 presidents of the tribes said:
“‘We are not able to go up against the people, for they are stronger than we.’ And they gave the children of Israel a bad report of the land which they had spied out, saying, ‘The land through which we have gone as spies is a land that devours its inhabitants, and all the people whom we saw in it are men of great stature. There we saw the giants (the descendants of Anak came from the giants); and we were like grasshoppers in our own sight, and so we were in their sight.’” – Numbers 13:31-33 [NKJV]
Please brothers and sisters, look for the difference between their report and the report of Caleb and Joshua. What is missing in the words of the ten spies? There is only one thing missing, God is missing. When God is missing from our programs and plans and future, we are doomed at that instant.
We can do nothing good for the kingdom of God unless God is doing it with us, and we are doing it with Him. We don’t have a ministry that is ours! We don’t have a church that we are the bosses of! We don’t have power to lead, to heal, to teach the word of God, to make the church grow, or to represent the almighty God down here on His Earth.
We have only the mission and the commission that the Lord has given us and He will provide all that we need to see that His work is carried out by us. I have prayed and continue to pray that Yeshua will use me as His donkey to enter again into Jerusalem.
I realize that this picture is only speaking metaphorically, but I do want to be an instrument in God’s hand. I hope that you, the preachers, pastors, and elders, of the body of Christ, will be always ready to give the Lord the credit and also allow Him to direct, inspire, and empower the local church and enable us to do His will, and to be both humble and strong at the same time.
So, that the Lord can use us to do His work and that His agenda will become our agenda. “Yes, We All Can” is a much better slogan for all Christians to adopt these days. YWAC!
This article originally appeared on Netivyah and is reposted with permission.