Parashat Shlach (Send thou…)
23rd of Sivan, 5777 / June 17th, 2017
By: Eric Meiri
This Week’s Readings:
Torah: Numbers 13:1 - 15:41
Haftarah: Joshua 2:1-24
Brit Chadashah: Matthew 26:69-75
Fear is a strong word in our society and culture. You might even say it is a bit of a buzzword. This is due much to the the famous quote by Franklin Delano Roosevelt: “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” Fear takes a new form with this quote. It becomes its own entity. A force to be reckoned with. Daredevils laugh in the face of it. Rappers boast about not experiencing it. FDR describes it as the “nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance”. It seems like there is such a concern with making sure we overcome fear. We attempt to control our fear. But do we really understand fear and what is at the source of it? What is the resulting effect?
The past few months have been a time where I have been tempted by much fear. I experienced two serious life-changing events with the birth of my son, and receiving a promotion to a new position at work. What made these situations even more challenging was that G-D brought these both on at almost the very same time. I started the training for my new position, and one week later, my son was born (three weeks early)! There is much that a man can be fearful of when his wife goes into labor. There is so much unknown, so much that can go wrong. It moves a man to want to try and do everything to take control over the situation to deal with the fear. And in the case of my new position, there was so much that was brand new, so much to learn, so much uncertainty and doubt regarding my ability to succeed. There were also so many challenges moving being a field staff to an office manager/educator and dealing with office politics and people. Again, it moved me to feel fear. Was this the right job for me? Could I handle it and set healthy boundaries? I kept contemplating and talking to my co-workers to gather information so I could figure out a way to take control over the situation. This is time and mental energy that would have been much better spent in prayer!
Back in March, I went through and intensive, 3-day, Biblical healing workshop called Restoring the Foundations led by Rabbi Ira & Gloria Brawer of Heritage House Ministries. This process introduced me to the concept of the Shame - Fear - Control Stronghold. The theory is that these three emotions/actions are related and have a cause-and-effect relationship. Here is how it goes.
In response to an event/belief that is painful/traumatic, either in our personal past or that is generational, we feel shame. In response to the shame, we experience fear that our shame will follow us and can be discovered by others. In response to fear, in order to hide our shame, we attempt to control through action. Shame-Fear-Control.
Does this resonate with you? For some I am sure it does. For some, maybe not. Maybe you do not see it happening in this exact formula. Maybe you are unaware of any source of shame in your life or that is generational, or maybe you don’t feel that you are attempting to exert control over anything in response to such things? Well, I believe strongly that this stronghold exists, especially in ways that we are unable or unwilling to see in our lives. For now, let’s take a look at how this process occurs in events recorded in Scripture.
The Torah Portion contains in it the story of the “bad report”, where the men of B’nei Yisrael who were sent to scout out the land of Canaan chose to provide a bad report of what they saw in the land. The land was fruitful and “flowing with milk and honey”, but they were discouraged by the fact that there were powerful men living there in large and fortified cities. Despite how G-D had showed them His miracles and power, and His faithfulness to deliver them and promise them the land, and also despite Caleb’s enthusiasm, the people were fearful. They feared the powerful men of Canaan. They feared death and defeat in battle and the resulting shame. So what did they do to avoid that shame? They then attempted to take control over the situation by providing only a bad report about the land so the rest of B’nei Yisrael would share their fear and not want to go into the land. No mention of the fruit and the beauty, just the spreading of fear that they themselves felt. The fear of men and the forgetting of G-D’s faithfulness.
Fear of shame led to control. But is there shame in Israel’s past as well that contributed and led to this development of fear? Consider that since leaving Egypt B’nei Yisrael has frequently brought up the desire to go back to Egypt. In Egypt we were slaves! And not the kind of slaves that in ancient times were treated like employees, but we were being mistreated, abused, forced to do hard labor and robbed of human dignity. And yet, it seems best for B’nei Yisrael to return to this as if this was better than their current situation? Why do people willingly return to situations or relationships of pain and abuse convincing themselves that these are positive and healthy? Perhaps there is a conscious or subconscious desire to avoid the shame of these situations or relationship through denial? In the case of B’nei Yisrael there is clearly a shameful history here they were in serious denial about.
The Haftarah Portion gives us a similar situation with slightly different results. The common elements are that Israel sends scouts and there is a false report of some sort here. There is also much fear that exists in this passage as well. First we see that the king of Jericho, although he heard about what ADONAI had done for B’nei Yisrael, he fears the men of Israel and tries to pursue them. If he truly feared G-D, his focus would be on appeasing G-D, but his fear is of men and he attributes the power of ADONAI to B’nei Yisrael and thinks that by destroying them he will have nothing to fear. This is the king’s attempt to take control over the situation. There is also fear that can be seen in the actions of Rahab. Although here the fear is not of man, but of the G-D of Israel. She chose to exert control over the situation but providing false information to the king’s men in order to protect and save the scouts of Israel. Now, this presents a bit of a conflict, since she lied. But let’s consider the root of Rahab’s action.
It was a genuine fear of the G-D of Israel. And the Scriptures state that “fear of ADONAI is the beginning of knowledge [and wisdom]” (Proverbs 1:7). Although this situation creates some challenging shades of grey with the act of lying, we still can take from it a grounding principle that should guide all of our actions, which is the “Fear of ADONAI”.
The Brit Chadashah Portion brings us another prime example of the Shame - Fear - Control Stronghold in action. Although we know that Peter believes that Yeshua is the Messiah, this truth has not yet come into its fullness at this point in the narrative. Peter walks with the shame of the fact that many believe that the man he is a disciple of is a crazy, crackpot, heretic from Nazareth who deserves death by crucifixion. So when Yeshua is at a low point and Peter is confronted the shame of being associated with Yeshua, he becomes fearful and takes control by lying and denying. Not once, not twice (even though the evidence is strong against him), but three times. Ultimately he feels remorse and repentant. I wonder how did Peter feel after that? Now he had to deal with the shame of knowing that he denied Yeshua who ultimately revealed Himself to be Messiah and resurrected from the dead! But I think we can assume that Peter chose to carry no shame, and instead decided to walk in the truth of Yeshua’s revelation, grace, and mercy, and proudly proclaim Ha’Derekh and Ha’Besorah to all from that point on.
This idea of the Shame - Fear - Control Stronghold is not only seen in these examples from this week’s parashah, but can be seen all the way back to Genesis 3. Shame, in the form of nakedness, was introduced at the Fall. Adam & Even feared their shame being discovered so they exerted control by attempting to cover up their shame with the first pair of all-natural, organic underwear. And from Genesis 3 to today we as humans have been dealing with shame, causing us fear, and leading to the attempt to control rather than trusting G-D and allowing Him to be in control.
Dealing with this issue is not so simple though. For many of us our fear is not so easily traced. As I stated earlier, there is an event or belief that exists either in our own past or is generational that has caused us shame, and most often we have disconnected from it due to the pain or trauma it has caused. Getting to the root of these issues and allowing G-D to remove them from our lives is a challenging process that requires the wisdom, oversight, and guidance of others, as well as a renewing of our mind by the Ruach Ha’Kodesh. One way to start this process is with a willingness to begin to identity these elements in our lives and ask ourselves some difficult, challenging, and revealing questions. Perhaps we are aware of painful events in our past, but we must consider how this has resulted in fear and the desire to exert control over our environment to avoid shame. Or perhaps we must start at the other end and consider what ways we are attempting to exert control over others, our environment, or our situation? Then we must ask ourselves what is it that we are afraid of? Is there unreconciled pain or trauma in our past or generational that is at the root of our desire to control?
Whether it be your situation or any of the these situations in Scripture, G-D’s truth can overcome the shame that people feel. And if we allow G-D to overcome our shame, let His truth be spoken into our lives which will manifest into new godly beliefs and memories, we no longer have to feel shame or live in fear of it. We no longer have to exert control and instead can trust in ADONAI to be in control, since He is truly Sovereign. Although there may be facts about the situations that are true (i.e. the men of Canaan were powerful, and Yeshua was perceived as a crazy heretic), what does G-D’s truth say? G-D’s truth says that B’nei Yisrael will be given the land through His blessing. And G-D’s truth says that the Messiah would be “despised and rejected by men… [but that] by His stripes we are healed”.
When we allow ADONAI to root out the lies of the enemy, which is accomplished through believing in and declaring Yeshua’s victory, and by the power of the Ruach Ha’Kodesh, we can then restore our foundations with G-D’s wonderful truth.