Parsha Shelach



By Rabbi Carol Calise

In today’s parsha we have the tragic story of the 12 spies surveying the Promised Land. The unfortunate outcome of the story is that an entire generation died in the wilderness instead of inheriting the Promised Land. What went wrong? Every time I read this story, it makes me reflect on what were the Israelites thinking and how much like them we are. What were they expecting to happen? What are our expectations when we come into the kingdom of Adonai? Did they expect no effort on their part? Do we think that being in the kingdom of G-d alleviates us of effort to inherit Adonai’s promises for our lives?

So often we, as the people of G-d, are overwhelmed with life, stressed out, burdened down, discouraged and just plain old sad people to behold. This is totally opposite of what we should be. We should be joyful, overcomers, content and enjoying the life in the kingdom of G-d. We shouldn’t be blown away by adversity, but we should embrace it and work through it to victory. One of my favorite verses in the book of Tehillim is “Shouts of joy and victory resound in the tents of the righteous of the L-rd.” To have a shout of victory implies there has been a battle that has been won.

So how can we avoid the same outcome as the children of Israel? Who wants to die without seeing the promises of Adonai? Not me. I want to inherit the promises of G-d for my life. The key is being like Calev and Yehoshua. Calev said, “We can surely go up and take the land.” He understood the principles of the kingdom of G-d that would bring victory into his life and allow him to inherit the Promised Land. He not only knew them intellectually but he applied them in his life. That’s why 40 years later, at 80 years old, he declared I am just as strong now as I was 40 years ago and I am ready to go up and take the mountain. He knew how to walk victoriously in his life no matter what the circumstances, no matter how big the giants, no matter how difficult the task, no matter how large the mountain. We need to walk in this same spirit.

So what are these principles that we can apply in our lives
that will enable us to walk in victory and not defeat;
that will help us shake off the shackles of HaSatan and walk with joy in our step;
that will allow us to actually look like we are enjoying life instead of dragging our feet and walking with our heads hanging down;
that will bring us to the place of seeing the promises of Adonai become a reality in our lives.

1. Stay focused on the right thing – ADONAI AND HIS PROMISES.

Calev recognized that it would require much effort and energy on his part to stay focused. He wasn’t looking at the size of the inhabitants. He wasn’t concerned about their fortified cities. He had one plan – to take possession of what G-d had promised him. In order to do that, he knew he had to keep His focus on the G-d who had promised the land to the children of Israel. The rest of the children of Israel only saw the fortified cities and how big the people seemed. We encourage people to be reading the Word, to memorize Scriptures. Why? So that you can stay focused on who G-d is and the promises He has made in His word just like Calev did.

2. Don’t give into doubt and unbelief.

Ten spies came back and said the situation was impossible. The majority of the children of Israel listened to that report giving into doubt and unbelief. Doubt and Unbelief comes into our hearts when we take our focus off the main thing – the awesome G-d we serve who is all powerful and always fulfills His word/promises. These are the words of doubt and unbelief – “We are unable to go up against the people, for they are stronger than us… We appeared like grasshoppers in our eyes, and that’s how we were in their eyes.” Don’t develop a grasshopper complex – it will only cause your faith to falter.
3. Your always have a choice and that choice will have its consequences.

On that day the spies came back, each person had a choice. The choices they made determined their future. It is so easy to blame others or even worse, blame G-d for the consequences of decisions we make. Rabbi Michael and I were talking about this concept during the week. People get frustrated with where they are in their lives feeling things should be different but never willing to assume responsibility for what is happening in their lives. Each man and woman could have said, we believe the report of the L-rd. We agree with Joshua and Calev. Let’s go up and take possession of the land that G-d promised us. However, we know what happened and the outcome. Only two men of that generation were allowed to enter the Promised Land. The remaining people – hundreds of thousands never saw the Promised Land. It was not because G-d’s arm was too short to bring them in. It’s not because they were weaker than the inhabitants who lived there. It is simply because of the choice they made. The consequence of their choice was that they died in the wilderness without ever seeing the promised Land

4. Be careful who you are listening to.

Be careful who you are following. I preached a sermon and wrote the booklet, “When the majority was wrong.” This is one of those times. The majority were not focused on G-d or His promises. The people should have listened to Calev and Yehoshua, but they didn’t. Don’t listen to people who don’t believe in the promises of G-d or in His power and character. Surround yourself with people of faith. People who will challenge you in difficult situations. People who will encourage you to press forward instead of shrinking back. People who will tell you the truth of love without whitewashing it. People who know that G-d is a good G-d and always keeps His promises. People who know that nothing is too difficult for our G-d. People who will agree with you in faith and stand with you until you see the promise fulfilled in your life.

5. Contend for your promise.

As I mentioned a few seconds ago, the people of Israel must have had misplaced expectations. They obviously didn’t think they had to go fight to inherit the promise. We are called to partner with HaShem – to colabor with Him. Every promise He has made is yes and Amen through Yeshua the Messiah, but that doesn’t mean we get to just sit back and watch it happen to us. We must contend and fight the enemy of our souls who does not want us to receive the blessings and promises of Adonai, who does not want us walking in victory, who wants to suck every ounce of joy and peace from your life. Caleb and Joshua were willing to fight for their inheritance. If you won’t fight for what is rightfully yours, who will? Who will contend for the salvation of your family? Who will stand for the restoration of your marriage? Who will engage the enemy until he lets go of your children? Who will resist the forces of darkness that stand in the way of G-d’s promises for your life? Friends, we must each fight for our promises and encourage one another in the battle. That is what Joshua and Caleb did and they received exactly what G-d had promised.

Don’t be like the 10 spies who gave into fear and shrunk back to destruction. Have the same spirit as Calev and Joshua. Declare in the face of your situation and circumstances – I am able to go up and take the mountain and claim my promise!

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