Viral Fear

Viral Fear in Israel

The Lord now said to Moses, “Send out men to explore the land of Canaan, the land I am giving to the Israelites. Send one leader from each of the twelve ancestral tribes.” So Moses did as the Lord commanded him. He sent out twelve men, all tribal leaders of Israel, from their camp in the wilderness of Paran. These were the tribes and the names of their leaders:

Tribe Leader

Reuben Shammua son of Zaccur

5 Simeon Shaphat son of Hori

6 Judah Caleb son of Jephunneh

7 Issachar Igal son of Joseph

8 Ephraim Hoshea son of Nun

9 Benjamin Palti son of Raphu

10 Zebulun Gaddiel son of Sodi

11 Manasseh son of Joseph Gaddi son of Susi

12 Dan Ammiel son of Gemalli

13 Asher Sethur son of Michael

14 Naphtali Nahbi son of Vophsi

15 Gad Geuel son of Maki

16 These are the names of the men Moses sent out to explore the land. (Moses called Hoshea son of Nun by the name Joshua.)

Moses gave the men these instructions as he sent them out to explore the land: “Go north through the Negev into the hill country. See what the land is like, and find out whether the people living there are strong or weak, few or many. See what kind of land they live in. Is it good or bad? Do their towns have walls, or are they unprotected like open camps? Is the soil fertile or poor? Are there many trees? Do your best to bring back samples of the crops you see.” (It happened to be the season for harvesting the first ripe grapes.)

So they went up and explored the land from the wilderness of Zin as far as Rehob, near Lebo-hamath. Going north, they passed through the Negev and arrived at Hebron, where Ahiman, Sheshai, and Talmai — all descendants of Anak — lived. (The ancient town of Hebron was founded seven years before the Egyptian city of Zoan.) When they came to the valley of Eshcol, they cut down a branch with a single cluster of grapes so large that it took two of them to carry it on a pole between them! They also brought back samples of the pomegranates and figs. That place was called the valley of Eshcol (which means “cluster”), because of the cluster of grapes the Israelite men cut there.

After exploring the land for forty days, the men returned to Moses, Aaron, and the whole community of Israel at Kadesh in the wilderness of Paran. They reported to the whole community what they had seen and showed them the fruit they had taken from the land. This was their report to Moses: “We entered the land you sent us to explore, and it is indeed a bountiful country — a land flowing with milk and honey. Here is the kind of fruit it produces. But the people living there are powerful, and their towns are large and fortified. We even saw giants there, the descendants of Anak! The Amalekites live in the Negev, and the Hittites, Jebusites, and Amorites live in the hill country. The Canaanites live along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea and along the Jordan Valley.”

But Caleb tried to quiet the people as they stood before Moses. “Let’s go at once to take the land,” he said. “We can certainly conquer it!”

But the other men who had explored the land with him disagreed. “We can’t go up against them! They are stronger than we are!” So they spread this bad report about the land among the Israelites: “The land we traveled through and explored will devour anyone who goes to live there. All the people we saw were huge. We even saw giants there, the descendants of Anak. Next to them we felt like grasshoppers, and that’s what they thought, too!”

The Infection: Irrational Fear

Transmission

Then the whole community began weeping aloud, and they cried all night.

(Numbers 14:1)

“Moses used 12 people, all amateurs, each with both political and military responsibilities in his own tribe. Each was a prominent individual who is named in the Bible. On the other hand, Joshua apparently used two professional (throughout they were referred to only as “spies”) anonymous (their names are not given) people to conduct his mission…

The information reported to Moses consisted both of facts and conclusions drawn by the spies. The negative report given by the majority of the spies, for example, reflected their perception regarding the consequences of military actions, which, if taken, they would be called upon to lead. The people agreed with the negative position, not because of facts reported, but because of the negative interpretation given these facts by individuals of prominence.”[1]

“It cannot be denied that although terrorism has proved
remarkably ineffective as the major weapon for taking down governments and capturing political power, it has been a remarkably successful means of publicizing a political cause and relaying the terrorist threat to a wider audience, particularly in the open and pluralistic countries of the West. When one says ‘terrorism’ in a democratic society, one also says ‘media’”[3]

“New technologies have not only made it possible to produce propaganda with astonishing ease — they have also made it far easier to disseminate these films and images. Isis videos include the executions of western aid workers and journalists, Syrian government soldiers, alleged spies and suspected homosexuals, a Jordanian pilot, Christian migrant workers, and others. Some have been decapitated, others shot, blown up, hurled from tall buildings or burned alive. A representative sample can be viewed, entirely uncensored, with a few simple clicks on the device in your pocket or on which you may be reading this. One such video appears on a popular British newspaper’s website after an advertisement for family holidays. The scenes of actual killing have been removed but little else. Though it accounts for only a fraction of the overall propaganda output of Isis, this material has had a disproportionate impact, just as planned.[4]

Symptoms of Viral Fear

1. Despair

Their voices rose in a great chorus of protest against Moses and Aaron. “If only we had died in Egypt, or even here in the wilderness!” they complained.

(Numbers 14:2)

2. Amplification

Why is the Lord taking us to this country only to have us die in battle? Our wives and our little ones will be carried off as plunder!

(Numbers 14:3)

3. Idolatry

Wouldn’t it be better for us to return to Egypt?

(Numbers 14:3)

I am speaking of Samaria and Jerusalem, for Oholah is Samaria and Oholibah is Jerusalem.

Then Oholah lusted after other lovers instead of me, and she gave her love to the Assyrian officers. They were all attractive young men, captains and commanders dressed in handsome blue, charioteers driving their horses. And so she prostituted herself with the most desirable men of Assyria, worshiping their idols and defiling herself.

(Ezekial 23:4–7)

For when she left Egypt, she did not leave her spirit of prostitution behind. She was still as lewd as in her youth, when the Egyptians slept with her, fondled her breasts, and used her as a prostitute.

(Ezekial 23:8)

4. Rejection of Leadership

Let us choose a new leader…

(Numbers 14:4)

5. Hatred of the Minority report

Two of the men who had explored the land, Joshua son of Nun and Caleb son of Jephunneh, tore their clothing. They said to all the people of Israel, “The land we traveled through and explored is a wonderful land! And if the Lord is pleased with us, he will bring us safely into that land and give it to us. It is a rich land flowing with milk and honey. Do not rebel against the Lord, and don’t be afraid of the people of the land. They are only helpless prey to us! They have no protection, but the Lord is with us! Don’t be afraid of them!”

But the whole community began to talk about stoning Joshua and Caleb.

(Numbers 14:6–10)

6. Self-Fulfilling Prophecies

When Moses reported the Lord’s words to all the Israelites, the people were filled with grief. Then they got up early the next morning and went to the top of the range of hills. “Let’s go,” they said. “We realize that we have sinned, but now we are ready to enter the land the Lord has promised us.”

But Moses said, “Why are you now disobeying the Lord’s orders to return to the wilderness? It won’t work. Do not go up into the land now. You will only be crushed by your enemies because the Lord is not with you. When you face the Amalekites and Canaanites in battle, you will be slaughtered. The Lord will abandon you because you have abandoned the Lord.”

But the people defiantly pushed ahead toward the hill country, even though neither Moses nor the Ark of the Lord’s Covenant left the camp. Then the Amalekites and the Canaanites who lived in those hills came down and attacked them and chased them back as far as Hormah.

(Numbers 14:39–45)

Containment

“And the Lord said to Moses, “How long will these people treat me with contempt? Will they never believe me, even after all the miraculous signs I have done among them? I will disown them and destroy them with a plague. Then I will make you into a nation greater and mightier than they are!” Numbers 14:11–12

“…when some friends of James came, Peter wouldn’t eat with the Gentiles anymore. He was afraid of criticism from these people who insisted on the necessity of circumcision. As a result, other Jewish believers followed Peter’s hypocrisy, and even Barnabas was led astray by their hypocrisy.”[8]

The Cure

The Canaanite king of Arad, who lived in the Negev, heard that the Israelites were approaching on the road through Atharim. So he attacked the Israelites and took some of them as prisoners. Then the people of Israel made this vow to the Lord: “If you will hand these people over to us, we will completely destroy all their towns.” The Lord heard the Israelites’ request and gave them victory over the Canaanites. The Israelites completely destroyed them and their towns, and the place has been called Hormah ever since.

(Numbers 21:1–3)

Immunization

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Pastor, FACWS.org — Boards: Boards: MonarchNC.org envisionatlanta.org saalliance.org — MDiv SEBTS, BA Duke

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