There is so much good news in the Torah portion Shelach Lekha, yet the bad news of the spies and the Sabbath-breaker overwhelms most teaching and commentary about the portion. In a fallen world, it is so much easier to emphasize the breaking bad news and ignore the good news. There are at least three notable breaking good news stories in Shelach Lekha that need to be in the headlines just as much as the broken news of the giants and Sabbath pick-up sticks:
- the giants and nefilim, the Amalekites, Hittites, and all the 39 kings of Canaan will help Israel ascend to the Land of Israel
- ascending to the Land is the story of resurrection
- keeping Sabbath outside the Land is just as important as keeping Sabbath in it
Let's start with Sabbath-keeping. The broken news is that there was an unrepentant Sabbath-breaker in the Israelite camp. He never intended to cross into the Land or ascend, or he'd have been preparing by keeping Shabbat in the wilderness, a weekly ascent. The good news is that now we know how to prepare for Shabbat in the Land of Israel, a Land that is tied to its sabbaths and will only allow its inhabitants to thrive when they honor the sabbaths, not just the weekly, but the annual and shmittah sabbaths for the Land itself. The promises of Adonai are always tied to a Land, a Covenant, and a People of faith.
Today we can keep the Shabbat in the lands of our exile and know that we are rehearsing to ascend, not just to the physical Land of Israel, but to its semi-supernatural state in Messiah's reign. Shabbat today is both faith and future to People walking in Covenant toward the Land.
The Land represents the Lower Garden, the place that Adam and Eve guarded...until they didn't guard it. They let good news become broken news, upright become fallen, and the Garden disappeared to human eyes. Today guarding Shabbat is a path of uprightness back to that Garden. At the resurrection, the righteous who are still alive will ascend to the Garden with a shout to join those already "asleep but my heart was awake."
In Jewish tradition, when a righteous person dies ("asleep" is a metaphor), Yeshua gives her a temporary "robe" as a substitute body for the conscious "awake" soul until the resurrection, and Yeshua brings him or her to the Lower Garden, or Paradise, to await the addition of all the souls in the Body of Messiah:
And all these, having gained approval through their faith, did not receive what was promised, because God had provided something better for us, so that
apart from us they would not be made perfect. (He 11:39-40)
A little hint is embedded in the Torah portion, and it is in the account of Caleb:
ascended in the south and
he arrived at Hebron, where there were Ahiman, Sheshai, and Talmai, the offspring of the giant. (Nu 13:22 Sapirstein Ed.)
Something significant happened at Hebron, the tomb of the patriarchs and matriarchs of Israel's faith. The "he" who arrived at Hebron, the giants' lair, and put his foot down was Caleb, even though the text is vague. We know it was Caleb from additional texts:
So Joshua blessed him and gave Hebron to Caleb the son of Jephunneh for an inheritance. Therefore, Hebron became the inheritance of Caleb the son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite until this day, because he followed the LORD God of Israel fully. (Jos 14:13-14)
Caleb was not afraid of the giants. He knew why they were there, for it was Hebron, Kiriat-arba, that was believed to be the entrance back to the Garden. Abraham knew it, which was why he purchased it for Sarah's tomb. Sarah knew it, which was why she went there to intercede as Abraham was offering Isaac as a type of the resurrection. She prayed herself to death at Kiriat-arba, the place where Adam and Eve were believed to be buried at the entrance to the Garden. The hope of the patriarchs and matriarchs was in the resurrection!
Caleb, too, believed in the resurrection. He believed that Israel could ascend to the Lower Garden. Count how many times the root
alah, for ascend, is used in the Torah portion if you can read the Hebrew text.
Now he gave to Caleb the son of Jephunneh a portion among the sons of Judah, according to the command of the LORD to Joshua, namely,
Kiriath-arba, Arba being the father of Anak (that is, Hebron). (Jos 15:13)
Then they gave Hebron to Caleb, as Moses had promised; and
he drove out from there the three sons of Anak. (Jdg 1:20)
Caleb drove out the
Anakim (giants) from the entrance to the Garden. No giant, no fallen one, no Amalekite or Canaanite can prevent the resurrection merely by camping on the property! They only prevent individuals who do not believe in the resurrection! Caleb declares to the Israelites in Numbers 13:30, "We shall surely ascend and conquer it, for we can do it!" The root of
alah is doubled: "Aloh naaleh!" Caleb is saying, "Up, up, we will go!"
Caleb says that the giants' "shade" has departed, but Israel is still under the Divine shade, its cloud of protection: "Their protection [
tzilam, shade] has departed from them; HASHEM is with us!" (Nu 14:9) The cloud of Adonai stood over Israel and was in the midst of the people:
"...You, HASHEM, are
in the midst of this people that You, HASHEM, appeared eye to eye and
Your cloud stands over them, and that in a pillar of cloud You go before them by day and in a pillar of fire at night - and if You were to put this people to death
like a single man..." (Nu 14:14-15)
The "single man" allusion is a key to understanding the resurrection. Moses pleads for the resurrection prophecy to remain intact, which he knows is the resurrection of a "single man" even though Israel is many. The cloud is their protection, His Presence, and His promise of a Messiah who could help Israel cross over into more than a physical Land, but restore them to the Lower Garden in the Resurrection of the dead. Caleb preaches the resurrection into the cloud of faithful witnesses, and Moses begs that the "single man" not be slaughtered in the wilderness in their disbelief.
Demonic Dirty Birds
How do you tell a great lie of breaking bad news? Start out with the truth, the good news. This is what the ten evil spies did, assuring the Israelites that the Land was indeed a land flowing with milk and honey. What followed, however, was a cleverly-crafted evil report emphasizing not the good fruit, but the fallen ones, the Nefilim, the giants, the Anakim, and the various hostile peoples such as the Amalekites, Hittites, and the thirty-nine kings of Canaan.
Caleb refuses to give a bad report of the Land, and he tells the Israelites the faith-filled truth:
The land that we passed through, to spy it out - the Land is very, very good! If HASHEM desires us, He will bring us to this land and give it to us, a land that flows with milk and honey. But do not rebel against HASHEM! And you will not fear the people of the land, for
they are our bread. (Nu 14:7-9 Sapirstein Ed.)
The giants and Amalekites could have been bread for the Israelites. Just as the ravens fed Elijah, so the adversaries and accusers could have been forced by the Holy One to feed the Israelites even as they claimed their tribal territories. It was the King of Babylon who "fell" because he wanted to rule over the "stars of God," the children of Abraham, and the "heights of the clouds," the great cloud of witnesses at the resurrection at the Feast of Trumpets, and to sit on the mount of the moed (feasts) in Jerusalem.
you have fallen from heaven, O star of the morning, son of the dawn!
You have been cut down to the earth, you who have weakened the nations!
But you said in your heart, '
I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne
above the stars of God, and I will sit on the mount of assembly [
moed] in the recesses of the north.
 I will ascend
above the heights of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.'
you will be thrust down to Sheol, to the recesses of the pit. Those who see you will gaze at you, they will ponder over you, saying, 'Is this the man who made the earth tremble, who shook kingdoms,
who made the world like a wilderness and overthrew its cities...?' (Is 14:12-17)
The King of Babylon is fallen, fallen. First, he falls from heaven to earth, and then he will fall to Sheol for making the world like a wilderness when it was created to be an extension of the Garden of Adonai, Israel. Those who believe the fallen one will descend to Sheol with him, for they say "We cannot ascend..." (Nu 13:31); those who believe the testimony of Yeshua and keep the commandments of the Holy One for living in the Garden will ascend to the Garden in the great cloud with the Divine Presence.
Caleb, however, the one whose foot touched the entrance to the resurrection Garden at Hebron, says the fallen ones are still under the rule of the Holy One, and He can force them to supply Israel's needs, their daily bread.
And he cried out with a mighty voice, saying, 'Fallen, fallen is Babylonthe great! She has become a dwelling place of demons and a prison of every unclean spirit, and a prison of every unclean and hateful bird.' (Re 18:2)
Unclean birds are symbols of unclean spirits and demons. Those who do not believe that it is possible to resurrect and ascend to the Garden and behave consistently with that belief are the dirty birds who will fall and descend to Babylon, Sheol. The Holy One of Israel is a faithful guard over His Land, and He is full control of our adversaries and accusers.
If those dirty birds could feed Elijah in the wilderness (1 Ki 17:4), then so could the Nefilim and Anakim feed the Israelites. Elijah's despair at thinking he is so small in relation to Jezebel's hunters was the same as the Israelites' despair at feeling like grasshoppers next to the Anakim and Nefilim. Why despair? The wilderness is a refuge and preparation place for obedient Israel; it is hope, not the domain of the demonic dirty birds:
And the woman fled
into the wilderness, where she hath a place prepared of God,
that there they may nourish her a thousand two hundred and threescore days. (Re 12:6)
No matter how insurmountable the dirty birds, Jezebels, and giants may seem, they all MUST obey the Holy One of Israel, especially in His own Land in a time of tribulation and judgment upon the false gods of the nations!
When a man's ways are pleasing to the LORD, He makes even his enemies to be at peace with him. (Pr 16:17)
Don't be surprised if somewhere, somehow, someday, the last person in the world that you expected to do you a good turn does one. Your adversary and accuser will inexplicably offer assistance. It will happen when you think you don't have a friend left in the world who would defend you. When you turn breaking bad news into breaking good news, you will enjoy supernatural help from the Holy One. He nourishes those whom He desires in the wilderness, especially if they honor and guard His Shabbat as their faith-filled prophecy of resurrection.
In the context of the evil spies, the Sabbath-breaker account makes sense in the same Torah portion. To remind the Israelites about the Shabbat, they are commanded to make tzitzit for their garments: "...you shall see it and you shall remember all the commandments of HASHEM and perform them; and
you shall not spy after your heart and after your eyes after which you stray." (Nu 15:39 Sapirstein Ed.)
Make a covenant with your eyes that you will not send a broken message to your heart:
"I have made a covenant with my eyes...,"
Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth will speak faith in the resurrection or faith in fallen Babylon all the way to fallen Sheol. Don't slander the Land no matter what kinds of giants and evil squatters you might see. Say yes. Yes, we can because yes, He will. We are able to ascend.
Hebrew for "yes" is
ken. Just say "ken." Yes, He ken bring me in! He ken make the devil do it! Yes, I ken ascend at the resurrection to the Garden with Yeshua and the great cloud of witnesses. Yes, you ken ascend!
Mount Zion is called the "sides of the north."
Weekly Torah Classes
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