The LORD spared the children of Israel, but He punished them by consigning them to forty years of wandering in the wilderness. He declared that they would never see the Promised Land that they had rejected. Instead their bodies would be buried in the wilderness. Their children, however, would be privileged to enter the land.
Even Moses, Miriam and Aaron were included in the doom. Only Joshua and Caleb were given permission to enter the land. The LORD said that Caleb would be allowed to enter the land because he had “a different spirit” (Numbers 14:24).
The different spirit of Caleb is evident from his report about the land. He and Joshua had seen the same Canaanites, the same fortifications and the same difficulties as the other spies but had come to a completely different conclusion. The other spies saw those things as obstacles. Caleb and Joshua saw them as opportunities for God to demonstrate His glory.
You may have heard someone say, “I’m not a pessimist, I’m a realist.” The inference is that an optimistic person is not realistic. Accordingly, the only honest and correct way to view the world is to point out the deficiencies, difficulties and inevitable failures. For the “realist,” that is the real world.
There is nothing special about having a realist-attitude. Anyone can point out problems. Everyone can criticize. It takes no talent to be a naysayer. Maybe you know someone who is a rigid realist. Such a person is usually not very realistic at all. Instead a person like that demonstrates a marked tendency to emphasize the negative, ignore the positive and disregard miracles. To that person, answers to prayer are mere coincidences. Words of encouragement are irritating. Behind the veneer of cynicism is a life of dark self-absorption and self-pity.
The ten spies were just such realists. They assessed the situation in terms of their own reality—a faithless reality. From that perspective, things looked pretty dismal. A quick march back to Egypt was probably the best solution.
Caleb and Joshua were a different kind of realist though. To them, reality was not as big as God. They assessed the situation in terms of a reality that encompassed faith. The difference between Caleb’s spirit and the spirit of the ten spies is the difference between seeing life through the eyes of faith or faithlessness.
The optimist says the cup if half full. The pessimist says the cup is half empty. The man of faith gives thanks that the cup is half full, and he marvels that God will either make the half cup sufficient to meet the need or miraculously refill the whole cup.
People say, “Every cloud has its silver lining.” The pessimist sees the cloud. The optimist sees the silver lining. The man of faith sees the cloud and the silver lining both. He gives thanks to God who made the cloud, provides the rain, and clears the sky.
Caleb’s different spirit is something we should all strive to attain. To be a person of faith is something extraordinary.
Shelach – שלח : “Send thou”
Torah : Numbers 13:1-15:41
Haftarah : Joshua 2:1-24
Gospel : John 7, 8
Source: Torah Portion