To get to the heart of this message, we first have to read the back story.
1 ¶ Then the LORD spoke to Moses saying,
2 “Send out for yourself men so that they may spy out the land of Canaan, which I am going to give to the sons of Israel; you shall send a man from each of their fathers’ tribes, every one a leader among them.”
3 So Moses sent them from the wilderness of Paran at the command of the LORD, all of them men who were heads of the sons of Israel.
4 These then were their names: from the tribe of Reuben, Shammua the son of Zaccur;
5 from the tribe of Simeon, Shaphat the son of Hori;
6 from the tribe of Judah, Caleb the son of Jephunneh;
7 from the tribe of Issachar, Igal the son of Joseph;
8 from the tribe of Ephraim, Hoshea the son of Nun;
9 from the tribe of Benjamin, Palti the son of Raphu;
10 from the tribe of Zebulun, Gaddiel the son of Sodi;
11 from the tribe of Joseph, from the tribe of Manasseh, Gaddi the son of Susi;
12 from the tribe of Dan, Ammiel the son of Gemalli;
13 from the tribe of Asher, Sethur the son of Michael;
14 from the tribe of Naphtali, Nahbi the son of Vophsi;
15 from the tribe of Gad, Geuel the son of Machi.
16 These are the names of the men whom Moses sent to spy out the land; but Moses called Hoshea the son of Nun, Joshua.
17 When Moses sent them to spy out the land of Canaan, he said to them, “Go up there into the Negev; then go up into the hill country.
18 “See what the land is like, and whether the people who live in it are strong or weak, whether they are few or many.
19 “How is the land in which they live, is it good or bad? And how are the cities in which they live, are they like open camps or with fortifications?
20 “How is the land, is it fat or lean? Are there trees in it or not? Make an effort then to get some of the fruit of the land.” Now the time was the time of the first ripe grapes.
21 ¶ So they went up and spied out the land from the wilderness of Zin as far as Rehob, at Lebo-hamath.
22 When they had gone up into the Negev, they came to Hebron where Ahiman, Sheshai and Talmai, the descendants of Anak were. (Now Hebron was built seven years before Zoan in Egypt.)
23 Then they came to the valley of Eshcol and from there cut down a branch with a single cluster of grapes; and they carried it on a pole between two men, with some of the pomegranates and the figs.
24 That place was called the valley of Eshcol, because of the cluster which the sons of Israel cut down from there.
25 When they returned from spying out the land, at the end of forty days,
26 ¶ they proceeded to come to Moses and Aaron and to all the congregation of the sons of Israel in the wilderness of Paran, at Kadesh; and they brought back word to them and to all the congregation and showed them the fruit of the land.
27 Thus they told him, and said, “We went in to the land where you sent us; and it certainly does flow with milk and honey, and this is its fruit.
28 “Nevertheless, the people who live in the land are strong, and the cities are fortified and very large; and moreover, we saw the descendants of Anak there.
29 “Amalek is living in the land of the Negev and the Hittites and the Jebusites and the Amorites are living in the hill country, and the Canaanites are living by the sea and by the side of the Jordan.”
30 Then Caleb quieted the people before Moses and said, “We should by all means go up and take possession of it, for we will surely overcome it.”
31 But the men who had gone up with him said, “We are not able to go up against the people, for they are too strong for us.”
32 So they gave out to the sons of Israel a bad report of the land which they had spied out, saying, “The land through which we have gone, in spying it out, is a land that devours its inhabitants; and all the people whom we saw in it are men of great size.
33 “There also we saw the Nephilim (the sons of Anak are part of the Nephilim); and we became like grasshoppers in our own sight, and so we were in their sight.”
1 ¶ Then all the congregation lifted up their voices and cried, and the people wept that night.
2 All the sons of Israel grumbled against Moses and Aaron; and the whole congregation said to them, “Would that we had died in the land of Egypt! Or would that we had died in this wilderness!
3 “Why is the LORD bringing us into this land, to fall by the sword? Our wives and our little ones will become plunder; would it not be better for us to return to Egypt?”
4 So they said to one another, “Let us appoint a leader and return to Egypt.”
5 ¶ Then Moses and Aaron fell on their faces in the presence of all the assembly of the congregation of the sons of Israel.
6 Joshua the son of Nun and Caleb the son of Jephunneh, of those who had spied out the land, tore their clothes;
7 and they spoke to all the congregation of the sons of Israel, saying, “The land which we passed through to spy out is an exceedingly good land.
8 “If the LORD is pleased with us, then He will bring us into this land and give it to us — a land which flows with milk and honey.
9 “Only do not rebel against the LORD; and do not fear the people of the land, for they will be our prey. Their protection has been removed from them, and the LORD is with us; do not fear them.”
When those chosen by Moses spied out the land they found great fortified cities. The sons of Anak lived there. The sons of Anak were part of the Nephilim. The Nephilim were a satanically enabled race. We have some insight into them in Gen. 6.
4 ¶ The Nephilim were on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of men, and they bore children to them. Those were the mighty men who were of old, men of renown.
5 Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.
Verses 4 and 5 are interrelated. The extreme wickedness on the earth was stimulated through the Nephilim. The ten spies who brought back the bad report were affected by seeing the sons of Anak. They told Moses that the land devoured its inhabitants. The sons of Anak were also of great size and made the spies feel like grasshoppers in their own sight. This is the nature of evil. Only Joshua and Calab brought back a good report saying they were well able to defeat the inhabitants and take the land. Joshua showed keen insight. He perceived that the protection around the Nephilim had been removed. Now what was this “protection?” The protection was a spiritual aura that had surrounded them. The Hebrew word for protection is tsel. This is an interesting word and just translating it “protection” does not reveal all its connotations. The following is a word study on tsel by Skip Moen. Moen’s article alludes to God being a protection, or refuge, to us. However, this word is not specific to just describing a protection afforded by God. It is a generic term that can be applied to anyone. The purpose of including this article by Moen is to show the extend of the word tsel.
“Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me, for in you my soul takes refuge; in the shadow of your wings I will take refuge, till the storms of destruction pass by. Psalm 57:1 ESV (57:2 in Hebrew text)Shadow – If you’re looking for a place of safety, would you choose to stand under something as insubstantial as a shadow? Think about it. You’re in the path of a tornado. Do you run to the shadow of a building for cover? You get caught in a tsunami. Would you seek a shadow to protect yourself? Are you kidding me? What good is a shadow when we need real protection?
Ah, but some shadows are better than concrete pillboxes or steel-door bunkers. David recognizes that even God’s shadow is enough for refuge. He doesn’t ask God to whisk him away to the security of heaven or to hide him in the palm of God’s hand. Just being under the shadow is enough. Why?
The Hebrew word here is tsel (Tsadik-Lamed). Genesis 19:8 uses the word as a euphemism for protection. Job 7:2 suggests that shade offers relief in a desert climate. We should notice that a shadow does not provide a permanent solution. Its temporary solace depends on relative positioning. Is that also true of God’s shadow? Does His refuge depend on our relative position?
There is a negative side to shadow. In the final analysis, shadows in our world are ephemeral. They are real, but they are not substantial. In this regard, human life is compared to a shadow (1 Chronicles 29:15). Real, but impermanent. It seems as if where we stand, physically and metaphorically, determines the permanence and protection a shadow offers. Since God is spiritually immoveable (consistent), the relief under His wings is not a function of His place in the universe but rather our ability to stand under Him. Perhaps that’s why David uses the official title Elohim rather than the personal name YHWH.
Finally, the pictograph of tsel is “to catch, to need, to desire authority or control.” The shadow of the Most High is really a reflection of our need, our desire to stand under His authority because under Him I can proclaim, “If God be for us, who can be against us.” This reinforces the thought that refuge is not up to God. It is up to me. I am the one who needs to move – from my hole in the earth to the sunlight, resting comfortably in His shadow. There are no shadows in a cave.”
When God protects us such as Moen describes, He does it through His presence surrounding us. That is the gist of the above article. It is a supernatural covering. Now, this same protection, i.e., tsel, can also be used by evil. The Nephilim were a race that had a satanic covering over them. They had an aura of satanic protection. Joshua perceived that the satanic covering had been removed from them. Thus, they were vulnerable. The other spies did not perceive this removal of protection. This tells us it was a spiritual protection, not a physical one.
Today, there are many “protected” by the forces of evil. There is an aura of protection around those whom satan would use to perpetuate his own kingdom. A few years back, the federal authorities tried repeatedly to convict Mafia boss John Gotti. He always seemed to slip out of the indictments. Gotti came to be known as the Teflon Don because the government could not make any charges stick. They did finally nail him, though. The phrase “Teflon Don” is an excellent image of how the word tsel is used. Now, I’m not inferring Gotti was satanically protected, I’m just saying the phrase “Teflon Don” fits the narrative.
I don’t believe that those “protected” today will have their “shadow” removed sovereignly by God. First, it is going to take the kind of spiritual perception such as Joshua had to detect such protections, and then see them broken by exercising the authority of Christ. We have heard the word countless times that what the Lord does in this hour He will do through His body. He has given us initiative to move in His authority and see to that those things which hinder His kingdom come down. We must recognize where the satanic impasses are and speak the word against them. I am applying this message to the nations and governments. I wonder just how much of our initiative to move in Christ’s authority will determine how much we see a moving of God upon many hearts. Jesus Himself spoke that before you can plunder the strong man’s house, you first have to bind the strong man. The atmosphere must be created for God’s righteousness to be revealed. Yes, this begins first in our own hearts, but it must reach to the nations.