It was on this day, in the year 1969, that one-time Prime Minister of Israel, Levi Eshkol, passed away. Eshkol was actually the third Prime Minister of the Israeli State serving in that capacity from June 1963 until his death in February 1969. Eshkol was leading the nation during the historic and prophetically significant Six-Day War. History has acknowledged that, though not leading the troops as Moshe Dayan, Eshkol’s careful planning and strategic movements in the months leading up to the Six-Day War played a significant part in the lightning quick response and the ultimate victory of the IDF. But it’s his last name, Eshkol, that makes this point even more interesting.
“Then they came to the Valley of Eshcol, and there cut down a branch with one cluster of grapes; they carried it between two of them on a pole. They also brought some of the pomegranates and figs. The place was called the Valley of Eshcol, because of the cluster which the men of Israel cut down there.” (Numbers 13:23-24)
This passage, of course, refers to the twelve spies who went into the land of Canaan to find the best route in order to conquer the land. Ironically, the same area from which the spies gathered fruit would later be called the “West Bank” – the area the IDF conquered under the leadership of Prime Minister Eshkol. Is this just one of those coincidences of history? Or might it be that the Creator was very subtly reminding the state of Israel of its storied and sometimes troubled past? As we know, ten of these spies came back from the land and gave what the Bible considered to be “an evil report.” When the people heard this evil report, they balked at entering the land for fear of the obstacles that were awaiting them.
Just before the the Six-Day War, when faced with the threats coming from Egypt’s Nassar, at first, Prime Minister Eshkol hesitated to act. Eventually he gave into pressure and brought in Moshe (Moses) Dayan to lead the defense forces; the rest is history. Here again, we have another interesting connection – Eshkol; Moshe – which brings us to our final thought for today.
If we are to possess the land and fulfill our purpose, we must be willing to face the obstacles that are before us and not be intimidated by them. We need to remember the words of another warrior named Moshe, who said to Israel as they prepared to enter the land:
“Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the Lord your God. He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you.” (Deuteronomy 31:6)
Whatever obstacles we may be facing, it’s important to remember that the Lord goes before us and therefore there is no need for us to hesitate or to fear our enemies. If the Lord is for us, who can be against us? He has provided for us a land that flows with milk and honey and He wants us to eat of the fruit of that land. He wants us to come into the fruition of our purpose. However, it’s up to us as individuals and as a corporate Body, to find it within ourselves to trust Him no matter what the circumstances are. We should not hesitate to follow Him, as He leads.