Friday, August 18, 2017

Deuteronomy’s History Review

21 “At that time I (Moses) gave Joshua this charge: ‘You have seen for yourself everything the LORD your God has done to these two kings (Og and Sihon). He will do the same to all the kingdoms on the west side of the Jordan (Canaan, the Promised Land). 22 Do not be afraid of the nations there, for the LORD your God will fight for you.’ 23 At that time I pleaded with the LORD and said, 24O Sovereign LORD, You have only begun to show Your greatness and the strength of Your hand to me, Your servant. Is there any god in heaven or on earth who can perform such great and mighty deeds as You do? . . . 28 Commission Joshua and encourage and strengthen him, for he will lead the people across the Jordan. He will give them all the land you now see before you as their possession.’” Deuteronomy 3:21-24, 28

In the opening chapters of Deuteronomy, Moses gives a new generation of Israelites a history lesson (see Deuteronomy 1:1-4:43). Moses addressed a new generation of Israelites encamped at Kadesh-barnea, the border of the Promised Land (see Deuteronomy 1:1-3). Kadesh-barnea was the gateway into God’s Promised Land. The ancient Israelites’ trip from Mount Sinai, where they received the Law of God, to the Promised Land would have taken only 11 days (see Deuteronomy 1:3). However, the first generation of Israelites spent 40 years wandering the wilderness on a journey that should have lasted 11 days. Sadly, the first generation of Israelites repeatedly rejected God’s love, rebelled against His authority, and ignored His commands for right living (e.g., see Deuteronomy 9:23-24; Psalm 106:24-27). During the 40-year wilderness wandering, the living God punished the first generation because of their unbelief, disobedience, and rebellion.

Deuteronomy gives Moses’ farewell address to a new generation of Israelites on the border of God’s Promised Land. Moses encouraged this new generation of Israelites to faithfully trust and obey God as their only King and true Leader to live successfully in their new land for God’s glory. To help prepare a new generation of Israelites, Moses reviewed Israel’s past, so this new generation will avoid repeating the sins of their unfaithful fathers (see Deuteronomy 1:1-4:43). In the New Testament, the Apostle Paul also reminded the church of Israel’s past so they would avoid the sins of the first generation of ancient Israelites (see Romans 15:4; 1 Corinthians 10:1-12).

At Mount Sinai forty years earlier, the LORD God announced to the Israelites leaving Egyptian slavery to go into and conquer God’s Promised Land (see Deuteronomy 1:6). Through His servant Moses, the LORD God announced to Israel that He would graciously give Israel all the land of the Jordan Valley, the hill country, the western foothills, the Negev, and the coastal plain, including the land of the Canaanites and to Lebanon all the way to the great Euphrates River (Deuteronomy 1:7-8; see also Joshua 1:4). From the very beginning, the LORD God promised Israel’s ancestors the patriarchs — Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and all of their descendants this good land — the entire area from the shores of the Mediterranean Sea to the Euphrates River (Deuteronomy 1:8; see also Genesis 13:14-15; Genesis 15:18-21; Genesis 17:7-8; Genesis 26:2-5; Genesis 28:12-15; Genesis 50:24; Deuteronomy 30:19-20).

While in Egyptian slavery, the LORD God had graciously multiplied Israel’s population as many as the stars in the sky as He promised Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (Deuteronomy 1:9-10). The living God had previously promised His servants Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob a multiplication blessing of their descendants (see Genesis 12:2-3; Genesis 15:5-6; Genesis 22:17-18; Genesis 26:2-5; Genesis 28:12-15). Israel’s forefathers went down into Egypt with only seventy people in all, and the LORD God had increased Israel as numerous as the stars in the sky (see Genesis 46:26-27; Exodus 1:1-5; Deuteronomy 10:22; Acts 7:14). There is NOTHING too hard for the living God (see Genesis 18:14; Jeremiah 32:17, 27; Matthew 19:26; Mark 9:23). Now, Moses blessed a new generation of Israelites that the living God would continue to multiply Israel a thousand times more and bless Israel as He promised (see Deuteronomy 1:11).

To help manage Israel, God requested Moses to appoint wise, experienced, and understanding leaders to help him manage and resolve Israel’s disputes and problems (Deuteronomy 1:12-15; see also Exodus 18:13-27). In God’s eyes, good leaders are wise, understanding, and well respected (see Deuteronomy 1:13, 15). The living God wanted appointed leaders to judge the people justly, fairly, and equally, whether native Israelites, foreigners, rich, poor, great, or small, because they were judging in place of God (Deuteronomy 1:16-17; see also Exodus 18:13-27; Numbers 11:16-17). If Israel’s leaders made their decisions on the basis of nationality, race, social position, crowd opinion, or wealth, they would sin against God and pervert God’s justice and fairness especially to the poor, widows, orphans, and aliens in the land (see Exodus 22:21-24; Exodus 23:2-3; Leviticus 19:9-10, 15; Deuteronomy 10:17-19; Deuteronomy 14:28-29; Deuteronomy 16:9-12; Deuteronomy 24:17-21). The LORD God shows no partiality, and He defends the cause of the fatherless, the widow, the poor, and the alien (see Deuteronomy 10:17-19).

Then, Israel left Mount Sinai and traveled through the great and terrifying wilderness and arrived at Kadesh-barnea, on the border of God’s Promised Land (see Deuteronomy 1:2, 19-20). Upon arriving on the border of the Promised Land, Moses instructed the Israelites to go and possess the Promised Land and not to be afraid or doubtful (see Deuteronomy 1:21). Moses knew their LORD God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, and His living Presence was going ahead to protect and care for Israel (see Numbers 14:8-9; Deuteronomy 4:31; Deuteronomy 31:8). However, the Israelites requested that first spies be sent into the Promised Land to scout the best route of entry, and to decide which cities to capture first (Deuteronomy 1:22; see also Numbers 13:1-3). Israel selected twelve spies, one from each tribe, and the twelve spies entered and inspected God’s Promised Land (Deuteronomy 1:23-24; see also Numbers 13:4-16, 22-27). Joshua and Caleb were part of this group of twelve spies (see Numbers 13:6, 16; Numbers 14:6-7).

When the twelve spies returned, they returned with samples of the local fruit as proof the land was good that the LORD God had given Israel – a land flowing with milk and honey (Deuteronomy 1:25; see also Exodus 3:8, 17; Exodus 33:3; Numbers 13:26-27; Numbers 14:7). Nevertheless, ten of the spies discouraged and placed fear in the Israelites’ hearts regarding powerful giants and large cities (Deuteronomy 1:26; see also Numbers 13:28-33). Because of the ten spies’ fearful and bad report, the first generation of Israelites refused to go into God’s Promised Land and rebelled against God’s command to enter and possess His land (Deuteronomy 1:28; see also Number Numbers 14:9). Even worse, the Israelites began to grumble and complain against the living God and His good Promised Land (Deuteronomy 1:27; see also Numbers 14:1-4). The living LORD God promised a good land to Israel (see Genesis 13:14-18; Genesis 15:7-21; Genesis 17:8; Genesis 28:12-15; Exodus 3:8). All Israel had to do was follow God’s orders, and He would give them victory over their enemies. Moses, along with Joshua and Caleb, repeatedly encouraged Israel to faithfully trust in the LORD God Almighty and not to be afraid (Deuteronomy 1:21, 29-31, 33; see also Exodus 14:14; Numbers 14:5-9; Proverbs 3:5-6). Israel’s all-powerful God would protect, care, and fight for them, just as Israel saw God defeat the Egyptians with His miraculous signs, power, and wonders (see also Exodus 14:14; Deuteronomy 1:32-33; see also Numbers 14:10-11; Deuteronomy 4:34; Deuteronomy 29:2-3; Psalm 78:11, 42). Despite the numerous proofs of God’s power and glory on their behalf, the first generation of Israelites refused to obey and trust in the living God. However, the first generation of ancient Israelites walked by sight and not by faith in God’s promises and let their anxieties paralyze them (sees 2 Corinthians 5:7). At the very border of God’s good Promised Land, the first generation of Israelites cowered at the spies’ report, lost faith in God, and toward away from God’s promises.

The Israelites refused to trust and believe in God despite Moses’ continual encouragement to courageously trust and obey the living God (Deuteronomy 1:32-33; see also Numbers 14:9-11; Psalm 78:11, 42). Even more, the all-knowing living God heard the Israelites’ complaining and became very angry (Deuteronomy 1:34; see also Numbers 14:10-12). Moses interceded for Israel to prevent God’s immediate wrath against the first generation of unfaithful Israelites (see Numbers 14:13-16). Because of Moses’ intercession, the living God forgave Israel’s sins (see Numbers 14:19-20; James 5:16). Truly, the living God is patient, forgiving and full of compassion and mercy (see Exodus 34:6-7; Numbers 14:17-18; Psalm 145:8-9; James 5:11). The living God does not stay angry forever but delights to show His mercy and compassion (see Micah 7:18).

Nevertheless, the LORD God does not excuse the guilty and leave the guilty unpunished (see Numbers 14:18). The living God promised that not one person in that entire wicked generation over the age of 20 who witnessed God’s glory against the Egyptians would live to see and enter His good Promised Land He had promised to their fathers – Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (Deuteronomy 1:35-38; see also Numbers 14:21-23, 28-30; Deuteronomy 32:13; Joshua 5:6). Instead, the living God promised to give His good land to Israel’s children, and that first generation of faithless and rebellious Israelites died in the wilderness desert (Deuteronomy 1:39-40; see also Numbers 14:26-35). In the face of such rebellion, the living God decided to wait for a whole new generation of obedient Israelites to enter His Promised Land. The living God wants obedience to Him (see Exodus 19:5; Deuteronomy 6:3; 1 Samuel 15:22-23; Jeremiah 7:23). Of the entire first generation of Israelites leaving Egyptian slavery over age 20, God would only allow Caleb and Joshua to see His good Promised Land (Deuteronomy 1:35-38). Only Joshua and Caleb followed the LORD courageously and completely (Deuteronomy 1:36, 38; see also Numbers 14:24, 30).

The first generation of Israelites wandered in the wilderness toward the Red Sea, and for many years Israel traveled around the hill country of Seir (see Deuteronomy 1:40; Deuteronomy 2:1). During the 40-year wilderness wandering, the gracious living God continued to watch over Israel and bless their every step and Israel lacked nothing in all that time (Deuteronomy 2:7; Deuteronomy 8:2-4; see also Amos 2:10; Acts 13:16-18). Because of the living God’s great compassion and mercy, He did not abandon Israel during their 40 years wandering in the desert (see Deuteronomy 29:5-6). By day, God’s pillar of cloud never ceased to guide Israel on their path and by night the pillar of fire never ceased to shine on the Israelites’ path (see Exodus 13:21-22; Nehemiah 9:12, 19). The living God gave Israel a good Spirit (see Nehemiah 9:20; Isaiah 63:11-14; Haggai 2:5). Moreover, the living God did not withhold His manna (heavenly bread) from Israel’s mouths, and He gave Israel water for their thirst (see Exodus 16:15; Exodus 17:6; Nehemiah 9:15, 20; John 6:31-33; 1 Corinthians 10:3-4). For 40 years, the LORD God sustained Israel in the desert, and they lacked nothing, their clothes did not wear out nor did their feet become swollen (see Nehemiah 9:21).

Next, the Israelites traveled through the Edom country belonging to their brothers the Edomites (see Deuteronomy 2:4-5, 8, 29). The Edomites were descendants of Esau and therefore thee Israelites’ brothers (see Deuteronomy 2:4, 8; Deuteronomy 23:7). Esau was Jacob’s older twin brother and therefore related to Israel (see Genesis 25:24-26; Genesis 36:8-9). The LORD God had given the descendants of Esau the land of Seir, a mountainous region south of the Dead Sea (Deuteronomy 2:5, 12, 22; see also Genesis 36:1-3, 6-9; Joshua 24:4). God informed Israel not to bother or take the Edomites’ land He had graciously given Esau’s descendants (see Deuteronomy 2:5).

Then, Israel traveled through the Moabites and Ammonites’ lands, who were also relatives of Israel and descendants of Lot (Deuteronomy 2:9, 18, 29; see also Genesis 19:31-38). Lot was Abraham’s nephew (see Genesis 11:27-32). God had previously driven out the people of the land, even giants, to give to the Moabites and Ammonites their land (see Deuteronomy 2:9-12, 18-23).

After 38 years had passed, the living God instructed a new generation of Israelites to now take possession of their Promised Land (see Deuteronomy 2:14-16, 24). By then, all the first generation of Israelites old enough to fight in battle had died in the wilderness, as the LORD God had promised would happen (Deuteronomy 2:14-16; see also Numbers 14:33-34). Only Moses, Caleb, and Joshua remained lived from the first generation of fighting men leaving Egyptian slavery (see Deuteronomy 2:13-16). As with the descendants of Esau and descendants Lot, the living God promised to go before and be with Israel and defeat their enemies (see Deuteronomy 2:25, 31-33, 36). In fact, the LORD God told Moses He would make the enemy nations afraid of Israel (see Deuteronomy 2:25). If God is with you, who can stand against you (e.g., see Numbers 14:9; 2 Kings 6:16; Psalm 118:6; Romans 8:31; 1 John 4:4). The living God goes before His faithful and obedient people to fight their battles and bring them victory (e.g., see Psalm 56:9; Isaiah 41:10; Jeremiah 20:10-12; Hebrews 13:6)!

Indeed, the LORD God would fight for Israel and conquer the lands of the Hittites, Girgashites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites and give to His people Israel in victory (Deuteronomy 2:24-36; Deuteronomy 3:1-2, 4-12, 21-22; see also Genesis 15:13-16; Numbers 21:21-32; Deuteronomy 7:1-2). Through His servant Moses, God told Israel not to be fearful and afraid because His mighty hand and outstretched strong arm would guide and lead His people victoriously into the Promised Land (see Deuteronomy 3:2-3). The living God defeated King Sihon and gave King Sihon’s land to Israel (see Deuteronomy 2:31-35). Also, the LORD God helped Israel to conquer Aroer on the edge of the Arnon Gorge, and the town in the gorge, and the whole area as far as Gilead (see Deuteronomy 2:36). No town had walls too strong for Israel (see Deuteronomy 2:36; Deuteronomy 3:5). The fact that Sigon and Og cities had high walls and giants did not create any fear in the new generation of Israelites unlike that the older generation (Deuteronomy 3:5, 11; see also Numbers 13:28-29). God is bigger than the walls and greater than any giants! As with King Sihon, the living God defeated King Og and gave King Og’s land to Israel (see Deuteronomy 3:1-7). Thus, the LORD God defeated King Sihon and King Og and took possession of their lands east of the Jordan to give to Israel (see Deuteronomy 3:8-11). The land previously owned by King Sihon and King Og east of the Jordan, Moses gave the land to the tribes of Reuben and Gad and the half tribe of Manasseh, Joseph’s son (see Deuteronomy 3:12-13). The new generation of Israelites was quickly discovering that the living God could be trusted to overcome every enemy. All Israel had to do was obey God’s orders, trust His promises, and courageously confront the enemy.   

Then, the sovereign God informed Moses to appoint Joshua as his replacement to lead the new generation of Israelites into the Promised Land (Deuteronomy 3: 21-22, 28; see also Numbers 27:18-23; Deuteronomy 1:38; Deuteronomy 31:14-15, 23; Deuteronomy 34:9). Moses informed his assistant Joshua that he would lead Israel into God’s Promised Land (see Deuteronomy 3:21-22). Most important, Moses instructed Joshua not to be afraid and discouraged but be strong and courageous because the living God will fight and protect him and Israel (Deuteronomy 3:21-22; see also Exodus 14:14; Deuteronomy 1:29; Deuteronomy 31:6-8. The living God protects and fights for His faithful and obedient people, and He will never leave you nor forsake you (e.g., see Deuteronomy 7:18; Deuteronomy 20:1; Deuteronomy 31:6; 2 Chronicles 32:6-8; Psalm 23:4; Isaiah 41:10-14). Joshua had seen what the LORD God had done to those two kings east of the Jordan, Og and Sihon (see Deuteronomy 3:21; Deuteronomy 31:4). So, Moses informed Joshua to be strong and courageous and not be afraid for the living God would also fight for him and lead Israel into the Promised Land (Deuteronomy 3:21-22; see also Deuteronomy 31:1-8; Joshua 1:6-9; Acts 13:19).

Joshua was a man of great faith in the living God and fully qualified to lead God’s people (e.g., see Numbers 13:8, Numbers 14:5-9, 28-30, 36-38). Also, Joshua was a great military leader and political leader, but importantly a man filled with God’s Spirit (see Numbers 27:18). Joshua had served faithfully as Moses’ servant (see Exodus 33:11), a leader in Israel’s army against the Amalekites (see Exodus 17:8-16), and he had been on Mount Sinai with Moses when Moses received the Law of God (see Exodus 24:13; Exodus 32:15-17). At Kadesh-Barnea, Joshua proved his faith and obedience by standing with Moses and Caleb against the ten spies and the whole unbelieving first generation of Israelites (see Numbers 14:6-9). The name “Jesus” is from the Greek and Latin for the Hebrew name Jeshua (Joshua), which mean “the Lord is salvation” (see also Matthew 1:21).  

Next, Moses pleaded with the living God to allow him to enter into the good Promised Land and see the result of God’s greatness and power (Deuteronomy 3:23-25; see also Deuteronomy 1:37). However, the LORD God refused Moses’ requests to enter into the Promised Land because of Moses’ prior impulsive sin of striking the rock instead of speaking to the rock as God commanded (Deuteronomy 3:26; see also Numbers 20:6-12; Numbers 27:12-14; Deuteronomy 31:2; Deuteronomy 32:48-52). However, our gracious God did allow Moses to visibly see the land (Deuteronomy 3:27; see also Deuteronomy 34:4). When God’s Son Jesus came to earth, Jesus spoke with Moses along with the prophet Elijah in the Promised Land (see Matthew 17:3-4, Mark 9:4-5; Luke 9:30). Many scholars believe Moses was one of the great witnesses that will come again at Jesus Christ’s second coming (see Revelation 11:1-13).

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Life Application Study Bible (Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Pub., 2005).
New Student Bible (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1992).
NLT Study Bible (Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Pub., 2008).
Ryrie Study Bible: New American Standard Bible (Chicago, IL: Moody, 1995).
The Living Bible Paraphrase (Tyndale House, 1971).
Wiersbe, Warren W. Bible Exposition Commentary – Old Testament (Victor Books, 1989).

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