Numbers 13–15: Overcoming fear in doing the right thing

“For indeed we have had good news preached to us, just as they also; but the word they heard did not profit them, because it was not united by faith in those who heard. For we who have believed enter that rest, just as He has said, ‘AS I SWORE IN MY WRATH, THEY SHALL NOT ENTER MY REST’ [Psalm 95:11], although His works were finished from the foundation of the world.” (Hebrews 4:2–3 NASB)

We all have “pivot points” in life, times when a decision or circumstance dramatically changes our lives, sometimes irreversibly. A pivot toward lifestyle and character in step with the Kingdom of God leads to a fulfilling life, regardless of good times or bad times. A pivot away from the Creator can be “sin that leads to death,” unless we respond to Heaven’s warning “today” and “enter His rest” via the Passover Lamb, Yeshua (Jesus).

Such a huge pivot in the history of our ancestors in faith is recounted in the Torah reading שְׁלַח Shelakh (“send,” Numbers 13–15), when a “bad report” about Israel’s prospects for settling in a land of giant warriors, walls and grapes persuaded many of the generation of the first Passover, Red Sea crossing, etc. to abandon the LORD’s leadership.

Moses sent 12 spies into the Land, one from each tribe because all the tribes were going to live there so a witness from each tribe needed to go in to see it for themselves.

One spy in particular deserves a special note: Hosea the son of Nun.

“Moses called Hoshea the son of Nun, Joshua” (Num 13:16 NASB)

Hoshea son of Nun shares the same name as the Prophet Hosea. The name הוֹשֵׁע hoshea‘ (H1954) means “salvation” or “deliverer.” This name aptly described Hoshea’s leadership of Yisrael in battle again Amalek and later on entering and starting conquest of the Land.

Moses changed his name to Yehoshua. The name יְהוֹשֻׁעַ yehoshua‘ (H3091) Joshua means “Yah is salvation”, or “Yah saves.” Yah is a short form of YHWH, the Lord.

Just as YHWH renamed Abram as Abraham to reflect his greater fatherhood role in the blessing of all nations, Moshe renamed Hoshea as Yehoshua to reflect his greater role in the leadership of Yisrael, the heart of that blessing.

Though Hoshea would be leading Yisrael to a new home and a greater role on the world stage, this new name was a reminder that YHWH would be the One really making it possible.

The name of our Savior Yeshua is a shortened form of this same name. In Hebrew, it’s יְשׁוּעָה yeshua‘h (H3444), which means welfare, prosperity, deliverance, salvation or victory.

The Septuagint (Greek translation of the TaNaKh and other Hebrew writings, LXX) renders this name as ’Ιησουε Iesoue. The Apostolic Writings use the form Ἰησοῦς Iesous (Jesus).

The name is thought to be:

  • A later, short form of Yehoshua.
  • A masculine third-person future tense of the verb yasha, i.e., he will save.

Present-time salvation and future salvation fits Mashiakh Yeshua’s prophetic and recorded mission well.

Harlotry of 10 faithless hearts versus faithful heart of one harlot

Forty years later, when Joshua, son of Nun, brings the children of Israel back to the banks of the Jordan to enter the Promised Land a second time, there are similarities but also differences.

First of all, the second time around, only two spies were sent into the land instead of 12 spies.

The first time around, we don’t have any record of the twelve spies getting caught or even under threat of getting in trouble. The second time, the two spies actually ended up in danger and had to depend on the kindness of a stranger to stay alive.

The first time, out of the 12 spies who entered the Land, 10 of the spies basically gave a one-star review of the Land. Only two of the spies gave the Land a five-star review. In our day, we often check websites such as Yelp!, Foursquare, etc. before doing business with an unfamiliar restaurant and although we wouldn’t take a single one-star review seriously, if we saw a preponderance of one-star reviews, we would take that very seriously. The people of Israel did, too.

However, when the two spies met Rakhab, and heard her testimony of what the people of Canaan thought of them, they realized that the two righteous spies were right all along.

The desperate search for the spies shows the Yericho government’s desperation, shown in her statement, “our hearts melted” (Josh. 2:11 NASB).

Both accounts have example of faith but in the second story, the faith that we find most remarkable is not the faith of the children of Israel, but the faith of Rakhab, a foreigner. Rakhab, a harlot, had such faith and loyalty to YHVH, a God she barely knew, that she rebelled against her own people to join herself with a new people. Rakhab’s mind was as open to the possibility of something greater than the city-state in which she lived and its deities as her role in the city was open to visitors. Unlike others in Yericho, Rakhab was willing to put her faith in YHWH the sea-parter and king-toppler, rather than the thickness of the walls and defenses of Yericho.

Forty years before, the 10 spies lead the people of Israel into spiritual harlotry against God. God killed the 10 spies for their harlotry, while He spared and prospered Rakhab the harlot for her loyalty.

Yeshua’s 12 ‘spies’ in the Land

Similarly, Yeshua sent His 12 new leaders of Yisrael to spy out the strongholds of the Adversary among Israel, first in teams of two then to work alongside the Master.

Everywhere they went, they bore a message that they knew who the Messiah was and that He was living among them. The question they faced in each city and village they went was if the people of that particular place would accept their message of the Messiah or not.

They exercised miraculous powers, such as healing the sick, blind, deaf, etc. The one who has the power over sickness can create and recreate anything.

On one occasion (Matthew 17:14–19; Mark 9:14–28; Luke 9:37–42), His students failed in freeing a demon-possessed man. The full context of this account is Mark 8:34–9:29.

“If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me.” (Mark 8:34 NASB)

Going all-in for God means not being afraid of the opposition, afraid of the cost of service.

“‘You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.’” (Deuteronomy 6:5 NASB)

“‘Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.’” (Matthew 10:28 NASB)

In Mark 9:2–13, Peter, Ya’akob (James) and Yokhanan (John) catch a vision of Who Yeshua is and why He came:

“ ‘This is My beloved Son, listen to Him!’” (Mark 9:7 NASB)

  • Yeshua would lead all to perfect “rest,” as YHWH led Israel to the Land.
  • Yeshua would take up Eliyahu’s and baptizer Yokhanan’s role of turning the hearts of the people back to parents and the Father.
  • Yeshua would take up Moshe’s role of lawgiver-interpreter, being the standard for how the Torah is lived.

In Mark 9:14–29, some disciples try to cast out a demon and fail.

“O unbelieving generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I put up with you?’” (Mark 9:19 NASB)

It was only when Yeshua was able to break through the father’s unbelief that the demon was thrown out. When you are at your wits end of doing something on your own, that is where you have to walk by  faith.

God says the same thing to Moses that Yeshua said to the people gathered around him in Mark 9.

“The LORD said to Moses, “How long will this people spurn Me? And how long will they not believe in Me, despite all the signs which I have performed in their midst?” (Numbers 14:11 NASB)

When the children of Israel rebelled against God after the false report of the 10 faithless spies, Moses responds with intercession.

God took them out of Egypt and out of bondage. He gave them food and water. He taught them who He was and what kind of relationship He wants to have with them and now He is going to bring them to the Promised Land where they could live with Him and rather than treating God as special and holy, they blasphemed Him.

Moses had great humility because he knew the true Source of his leadership, which was from the lord. Moses had one fault that prevented him from entering the land and that was the encounter at the rock. He hit the rock and said “You rebels, how am I going to take you into the land.”

God told Moses that he had forgotten who was actually leading the people into the Land. Moses could not be a leader of a nation if he had no people to lead.

Moses lived under great pressure. Everyone was rebelling against Moses, even his own siblings, yet there was one time that He forgot who was really in charge.

With that one lapse, Moses lost his opportunity to enter the Promised Land because he did not lift the Lord up among the people. We saw in Mark 8-9 that Moses is still held up as a righteous role model despite this one failing. He was still a great leader.

The question we need to ask ourselves is this: Are we interceding for our brothers and sisters who are being taught that many words of God aren’t worth living by anymore? That what God considers disrespectful and self-destructive are now blessed and self-actualizing?

When the Lord announces His judgement that He was not going to let them enter the land, they did not like that judgement. I’d encourage you to review the account of Meribah and Massah referred to in Hebrews 3-4 as well as Psalm 95, particularly Psa. 95:7-11.

God judged the people of Israel that they were not ready to enter His rest, the Promised Land. God had to do a reboot on the nation of Israel and wait until the second generation were ready to enter the land.

That is pointing to a moment in Israel’s history, recorded in Ex. 17:1-7.

‘Entering His rest’

Let’s pick apart the names of these places. They were named this way because the people tested the LORD. Meribah means “place of strife” and Massah means “place of testing.”

The key part of the account is the question on the minds of the contentious, “Is God with us or not?” (Ex. 17:7). They were grumbling because they had no water and where they went to get water had bitter, undrinkable water. He took them into the desert and then brought them to a place with deadly water. They wanted to know if God was with them or not? They believed the negative report from the 10 spies and had concluded that God was not with them and they wanted to go back.

I have a hard time bringing up uncomfortable topics that needs to be brought up. It’s hard to tell people that the Lord’s way is the better way to look at something, particularly if you know that they will be hostile to what you’re saying. No one wants to face a figurative or literal flogging. To move forward even if you get beaten over the head, metaphorically or rhetorically is hard. Do you move forward anyway? Yeshua talked about being “poured out” several times and the Apostle Paul also refers to being poured out like a drink offering. They faced persecution and death and moved forward anyway. The drink offering is a symbol of life being poured out and given back to God. When we move from outside the tabernacle, towards God, it will cost us our old life to do so. Moving from Egypt and bondage into the Promised land and rest is not easy. We have been delivered from our own house of bondage. We go up to the place where God wants to be.

Yeshua said that that when we build a tower, we need to count the cost. Flesh and blood can’t enter theKingdom. The flesh and spirit are always at war. Our old man must die in the desert. Our new man is the only thing that can enter that final destination to dwell with God.

God created and then He stopped. When we see in our journey to become someone new, that new birth, there isn’t anything else that needs to be done. We don’t need to sacrifice Yeshua on the cross every year. His sacrifice was one and for all time. We can’t shrink back from it, or try to live in our new life on our own. Do we actually God to reveal everything to us: the good, bad and ugly? We need to keep learning. We can’t forget who has brought us this far. We didn’t do this on our own. We didn’t find the correct path, the correct destination on our own.

The question we need to ask ourselves is this: Are we interceding for our brothers and sisters who are being taught that many words of God aren’t worth living by anymore? That what God considers disrespectful and self-destructive are now blessed and self-actualizing?

The eternal High Priest, Yeshua, intercedes for our rebellion (Heb. 4:8–16) and gives us “rest,” memorialized in the weekly Shabbat (Sabbath). The Shabbat is not just a memorial of creation. It is also a memorial to God’s sanctification and the one who gave us a rebirth. It’s also a memorial of our freedom from our old life.

God made a promise to Abraham and He was going to keep it. We trust the floor beneath our feet, we walk up and down the stairs without thinking. We move forward yet when we see God’s promises, we don’t have as much faith in God as we have in a chair or a flight of stairs. God kept His promises to Abraham long after he was dead. Abraham didn’t see everything God promises but he trusted God that it would be done.

Summary: Tammy.

Banner Photo: “Raised Hands” from Bruno via Creative Commons license.




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