You + Yah Can Take the Land
Parsha Sh’lach L’cha, Numbers 13-15, is centered on our first glimpse of the Promised Land after leaving Egypt. We read the exciting report that the scouts brought back, the good and the bad.
But I want to focus on just one verse – not even a whole verse, just one sentence. It’s a statement that is easily overlooked in the highs and lows of the story. It’s easy to miss the significance of it, because in most of our cultures today, it doesn’t carry the same meaning. However, in this case, it was life-changing and destiny defining. If we can capture the significance of this concept in our own lives, it can be the same for us.
The Significance of Names
Have you ever seen a name you thought was an unusual coincidence?
- The lawyer named, Sue Yoo
- The dentist named Ken Hurt
- I saw a deli manager named Laura Hamm and a meat department manager named Bradley Slaughter
- Scott Speed is a race car driver
How does this happen? Well in our culture, we call that a fluke, ironic, a coincidence.
But in the Bible, babies were named on purpose, a name having to do with their purpose, identity or events that surrounded their birth.
Remember Jacob and Esau? Esau had red hair all over him. Esau means “completely formed” (as in having hair on his body already). Jacob was holding on to Esau’s heel when he was born. Jacob means “one who supplants another.” We see this over and over in the Bible, where the name describes the person.
And that’s why we also see names being changed in the Bible. When a name is changed in the Bible, it usually signifies a change in identity. Remember, Jacob’s name was changed to Israel after he wrestled with the angel. He went from being called “one who supplants,” to being called “one who prevails with God.”
Of course, Abram’s name was changed to Abraham. Abram means “exalted father.” God changed that to Abraham, meaning “father of many” because that’s who he became.
Sarai was changed to Sarah, so she went from being called “mockery” to being called “princess.”
It had to do with who Yahweh was making them to be. We see this changing of names in the Bible as a changing of identity, an identification of their purpose and destiny.
That’s what happened in Numbers 13.
Look at Numbers 13:16:
“These are the names of the men Moses sent out to reconnoiter the land. Moses gave to Hoshea the son of Nun the name of Joshua.”
Moses changes Hoshea’s name to Joshua. Hoshea means “Oh save!” or “salvation,” a cry for salvation.
What does your name mean?
My name, Christi, is Greek and means “Christ-like,” and Christ means “anointed one,” so Christi means “like the anointed one.” Well that’s a lot to take on – am I like Christ? Am I anointed? What am I anointed for? Am I living up to my name, my anointing? Is there an expectation that I’m going to be Christ-like? In what ways will my life resemble his? His earthly ministry, his death, his spiritual role?
Well, this name is a wonderful gift. I consider it great motivation to try to emulate Yeshua.
Imagine when you were born, you were given the name “Oh Save!” As you get old enough to realize what your name means, what meaning does that take on for your life? What does that do to your identity and how you see yourself? You may think, “am I going to need salvation? Am I going to save others? Are others depending on me to save them?”
As you walk through your life with that name, you might begin to take on that mantle: “I will save people, people can depend on me to save them. I will watch for people that need saving.”
Now, here in verse 16, Moses changes Hoshea’s name. What if your name identified who you were, and then it was changed after you became an adult? Just when you think you’ve figured out who you are, someone comes along and changes your identity. This is exactly what Moses did. He changes Hoshea to Joshua.
But this is just one little sentence squeezed into a huge story. “Moses gave to Hoshea the son of Nun the name of Joshua.” It’s only half of a verse long. We read through and see these 12 other names as we hurry to get on our way to scout out the land, and this sentence is just slipped in at the end of the list. It’s easy to miss, because in our modern Western mindset, we aren’t used to names meaning something. So, we just keep reading. “….Moses changed Hoshea to Joshua…Moses sent them to reconnoiter the land of Kenan…”
But in the Bible, names are not changed without a reason. Why was Hoshea’s name changed? I know Joshua, but who was he before that? What changed? What does this mean? And what did it mean to Hoshea at that time?
In Hebrew his name was Hoshea – הוֹשעַ made up of the characters Hey, Vav, Shin, Ayin.
Joshua in Hebrew is the exact same, with just one character added to the front – a yod (‘). In Hebrew it’s pronounced Y’hoshua (הוֹשעַ’). Moses added one little yod to the beginning of Hoshea. But that yod changes everything.
In the Paleo Hebrew, the yod represents a hand and means work, deed, an action, making something or making something happen.
The yod is the first character in God’s name Yod Hey Vav Hey, הוהַֹ’. In fact, a yod can be an acronym for Yah as in Yahweh.
Look at Exodus 15:2. Most translations say: “The LORD is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation.”
In a previous post I’ve discussed that when the title “LORD” is in small capital letters, it means that the original writings had his name spelled out – Y-H-V-H, הוהַֹ’. But in this verse the original writing just had Y-H, ה’, we say it “Yah.” In Sterns Complete Jewish Bible and others that stay close to the Hebrew, it translates this verse “Yah is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation.”
This is also the case in Exodus 17:16, which says, “Because their hand was against the throne of Yah, Adonai will fight ‘Amalek generation after generation.”
And there are various other cases of this in the Bible. Where Yahweh is referred to as just Yod Hey, ה’.
So, what’s happened here with Hoshea? Moses has just added Yod — the acronym for Yahweh — to the beginning of his name. Now Instead of his name meaning “Salvation or Oh Save!!” His name means “Yahweh is Salvation” Y’hoshua, הוֹשעַ’.
Oh, my goodness! That changes everything. Now Yahweh is saving him, and saving others. Now it’s him doing the saving, not Hoshea. It’s an answer to the cry for salvation. It’s someone saving Hoshea instead of him being the one who is doing the saving. Yahweh not only just took a huge burden off Hoshea, but he made him infinitely powerful. It’s Yahweh’s power in him that will save now. It’s not up to Hoshea. His whole life makes sense now. This is who he is – one who Yahweh saves, one through whom Yahweh saves others. He doesn’t have to wonder anymore who he’s supposed to save, or if he’s going to need saving. This is his answer: Now Yahweh will use him to save.
Imagine the excitement of this. Now he’s free to walk into situations where he or someone else needs saving and not feel the pressure of being salvation, or maybe even people calling his name, “Save us! Save me!” “Hoshea!” He can now see that situation and act confidently knowing that Yahweh is with him. He carries his name; it’s him who will do the saving through Y’hoshua. It’s not all up to Hoshea, he’s not alone. Yahweh is salvation!
Wow, that’s a whole new lease on life. And it happened right before he left for the Promised Land. Now, he’s got a whole new perspective as he enters the Land.
Y’hoshua in the Promised Land
Imagine walking through the Promised Land with this new name, with this new understanding of who you are and who Yahweh says you are. That’s a completely different view than the others likely had. They weren’t considering the supernatural, they weren’t walking in a new identity with Yahweh’s name attached to theirs. This is the difference in the report he brought back to the people compared to the other ten scouts. Y’hoshua could see how Yahweh could go with them and conquer the Promised Land. He had this new vision.
It’s almost like being born again. You’re going along in life doing everything the way you think it ought to be done. You’ve gotten as far along your path as you know how to go. Then you learn about Yeshua. You believe on him as the Messiah, accept him into your heart, and the Holy Spirit fills you and empowers you to see things completely differently. You now understand that Yahweh can work supernaturally through you. It’s not all up to you. Anything’s possible now. This may just be how Y’hoshua felt at this point.
This ties into something else about Y’hoshua’s name that I wanted to point out. We said earlier his name is made up of הוֹשעַ’ – Hey, Vav, Shin, Ayin and now with a Yod on the front. In the ancient Paleo Hebrew these characters have meaning:
Hey means to reveal
Vav means to secure
Shin means to destroy or consume
Ayin means to see or knowledge
These are the perfect qualities for someone who’s called on to conquer the Promised Land. And, now adding a Yod to the beginning of all that. You’ve just created a superhero. Hoshea is all these things, but now supernaturally powered by Yahweh. He’s seeing things in a completely different light now. No wonder he thought the Israelites could conquer the Land!
This is how he’s different than the other 10 leaders that traveled through the land. He sees things through Yah’s power – nothing is impossible. Look at what he says in vs. Numbers 14:9:
“Just don’t rebel against Yahweh. And don’t be afraid of the people living in the land — we’ll eat them up! Their defense has been taken away from them, and Yahweh is with us! Don’t be afraid of them!”
Y’hoshua is seeing that through God’s eyes. He now knows Yahweh is with him. He’s aligned with his vision and will. He can see it, and he’s ready to obey.
You + Yah
Well, what if we were to add a Yod to our names? What if our identity started with Yah? That’s what happened when his Spirit was poured out on us. Whatever you know yourself as, add Yahweh’s supernatural power to it, and understand that it’s not all up to you. It’s his identity, it’s how he wants to express himself, and he’s chosen you to do it through. Just like with Y’hoshua – Hoshea is not doing the saving, Yah is salvation and Hoshea is his instrument. It’s not Christi that’s anointed, it’s Yah’s anointing coming through me to a situation, it’s Yah + Christi. Now I don’t have to worry that I’m not living up to my name. If I’m obeying him and intimately related to him, seeing through his eyes, I’m his instrument, his vessel. He’s using me to bring his anointing.
Our role is to see our situations and our surroundings through Yah’s eyes, even our obstacles and giants, and say, “what is Yahweh trying to do here?” Then trust that he’s empowering you to be who you are, and go ahead and obey him. Remember Deuteronomy 5:25, “Whatever the LORD our God says, we will listen and obey.”
Wow, isn’t that freeing? We can actually do this. It’s exciting! It’s inspiring! What’s possible when Yahweh is empowering you? Add a yod to who you are, and go in and take the Land! Slay your giants and drive out the enemy. With Yahweh’s power, you can be all that he made you to be.