Deuteronomy 2:24-37. Journeys and victories. James Dale Text & Audio
June 10, 2018
Journeys and Victories
(Part 3 of 44)
In Moses’ first sermon he has looked at the past. His hike through history has taken this young generation of Israelites back to Kadesh-Barnea to review the tragedy of unbelief of their fathers when they rebelled against God because of their fear of giants. This was chapter 1.
Now, in chapters 2 and 3, he is rehearsing the last two years of their journeys and victories as they marched toward the Promised Land for the second time in 40 years. This is where we are right now. As we saw last week, Moses took great pains to teach them that God is bigger than giants.
Before we continue with this sermon of Moses, we need to remind ourselves why God took the time to record all these stories of the past. Turn to Romans 15:4.
For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.
To some extent, the “why” behind God’s amazing works with ancient Israel is hidden in the “secret things” of God. But at the same time, God’s work with His people in the past is an extremely accurate picture of His work with His people today. There are many similarities between the actual physical heartaches and battles of those people then and the spiritual battles we face now. They looked across the battlefields at real enemies that they had to defeat in order to receive God’s promise. And nearly every moment of every day we look spiritual enemies in the eye knowing we must do battle with them also. We have giants in our lives and need to face our fears in faith in the power of God in the same way they did.
This, by the way, is why we study the Word. It is not to know geography and facts, although that is helpful in understanding the spiritual lessons. It is to learn about God and how to walk by faith. Therefore, as we read each section today, I will ask questions to help us ponder about our own lives and how it applies.
Find your maps and locate #11. This is where we left the Israelites last week. Turn to Deut 2:24-37 to see how they face their giants of fear after 40 years.
*Stand and pray*
Read verses 24,25
God tells them to cross over the Brook Arnon. When they do, God tells them that they will run into King Sihonm who is an Amorite. This time, God tells them to engage in battle and take the land.
Notice where the nation of Ammon is above the Aron Brook and to the right. The land of Ammon used to extend all the way over to the Jordan River but the Amorites had taken some of the land from the Ammonites and pushed tehirtheir border to the east. The Amorites were one of the seven nations that God told Israel to toallytotally destroy as a judgment from God (Deut 7:1). He had given them 400 years to repent (Genesis 15:13-16).
God is patient and loving, but He is also righteous. Look at Isa 30:18.
And therefore will the LORD wait, that he may be gracious unto you, and therefore will he be exalted, that he may have mercy upon you: for the LORD is a God of judgment: blessed are all they that wait for him.
After a certancertain amount of time and chances, there is a point of no-return and God must judge a nation even thughthough individuals may repent. We see this pattern in Scripture with King MannessahManasseh. The nation under his leadership had passed the point of no-return and God had to judge that nation even though the king himself repented. However, you see King Manasseh repienting and wWe will see Manasseh him in heaven, but the nation of Judah still had to suffer the consequences.
If this is true, and it is, questions come to mind about our own nation. Has the United States passed the point of no return? Will our nation have to be judged? And if so, when? Is God giving us time to repent like He did when He sent Jonah to Nineveh? These are good questions especially when we see the velocity at which change is taking place.
Ireland in 1983 passed an 8th amendment which put a ban on abortion in their nation. On May 25 a few days ago, they repealed that ban by a 70 percent majority public vote making abortion now legal. This complete reversal of morals in this historically Catholic nation has happened within most of our lifetimes … in 35 years. This kind of moral shift is happening at an alarming rate here in the U.S. also, as you know. Remember, God is a God of judgment and the United States is no exception.
Here is another question to ponder from these two verses. Do you understand the spiritual principal between God’s giving King Sihon into the Israelites’ hands and yet saying they had to fight for it? In what way does God do things for us and yet requires us to do it for ourselves? God gives us the promise and does the work, but he waits for a response of faith in action to make it a reality.
Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.
If thou hast run with the footmen, and they have wearied thee, then how canst thou contend with horses? And if in the land of peace, wherein thou trustedst, they wearied thee, then how wilt thou do in the swelling of Jordan? Jer 12:5
Read verses 26-29
Notice that Israel did not start ehthe fight with King Sihon. TeyThey first offered a peace settlement … to pass through their land on the way to the Promised Land on a regular ighwayhighway offereingoffering to pay for anytinganything they ate or drank just like they did with Edom and Moab. I’m not sure they had cash or credit cards. Rather, they would have paid in gold, silver, and jewels that they had taken from the Egyptians. All they wanted was safe passage across the land on their way to the Jordan River.
This brings up the question, “Why make an offer at all?” God already told them there was going to be a battle and that He was would give Sihon’s land and possessions to Israel. So, why offer a peace settlement? This is another picture into the character of God. He gave Sihon the opportunity to reject a viable offer in order to put the onus on the man who rejected God. That Sihon rejected God is obvious from his response. Let’s read on.
Read verses 30-37
Like PharoahPharaoh, King Sihon hardened his heart. Moses had been down this road before, hadn’t he? He dealt first-hand with Pharaoh in Egypt who had hardened his heart against God.
For the scripture saith unto Pharaoh, Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might shew my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth. Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will, he hardeneth.
Do you know anyone whose heart is or was hardened by God, and what it looks like? God had placed a man like Sihon on the throne so that the Amorites would be delivered intotheirinto their hands for jusdgementjudgment and the Israelites would possess the land.
The battle happened at Jahaz. Sihon lost the battle and Israel inherited the land and the cities. They destroyed everyone at the command of God but kept the livestock and richsriches of the cities from Aroer over to the Gilieand mountain range.
This range of mountains is on the esterneastern side of the Jordan River and is similar to Mr. Seir, only t his extends nothnorth and south frofrom the Red Sea up past ehthe Sea of GalilieeGalilee. It is cut in half bytheby the Yarmouk Rriver separteingseparating King Og of Bashan from King Sihon of Heshbon. This is saying that they took all the land from the city of FaAroer to the JFordan River including “Half-Gilead” (see 3:12). Moses made a point to say that they didn’t touch anything north of the river Jabbok, or anytinganything belonging to the Ammonites to the east of them. They did only what the Lord told them to do.
The next question that haunted me was, “How do we explain the mass slaughter of all men, women and children when God delivered Sihon to His people? Consider the gory details of the battle that was recorded.
And the Lord our God delivered him before us; and WE smote him, and his sons, and all his people. And WE took all his cities at that time, and utterly destroyed the men, and the women, and the little ones, of every city, WE left none to remain: only the cattle WE took for a prey unto ourselves, and the spoil of the cities which WE took. Verses 33-35
Notice the plural pronoun “we” which was used five times in just a few verses. They are saying, “God promised, and we trusted him, and we did it!” Notice the contrast with Numbers 13:28.
Nevertheless, the people be strong that dwell in the land, and the cities are walled, and very great: and moreover we saw the children of Anak there.
Now they are saying in verse 36,
There was not one city too strong for US: the LORD or God delivered ALL unto US.
But why the mass, mindless destruction? Why did they kill every man, woman and child with no survivors? That’s not the way we do battle today and it goes against our sensibilites.
This again is a picture of God’s attitude toward sin. His plan was to eradicate every vestige of sin and wickedness that replaced Him with imaginary gods. It is also picture of what God is going to do at the end of the age when He wipes out the entire universe and creates a new one where there is not one molecule of sin.
Looking for and hastening unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat? Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness. II Pet 3:12,13
Here are a couple of thoughts that helped me understand.
- They deserved to die for their sins. The penalty of any sin is death. We tend to be easy of sin. Studies of their religion, literature, and archaeological remains revealed they were a morally depraved culture and some of the worst on the earth.
- They persisted in their wickedness even though God gave them 400 years to repent.
- The Canaanites constituted moral cancer. Even one child left alive had the potential for introducing an idolatry and immorality which would spread rapidly among the Israelites and bring about the destruction of God’s own people. We see this happening later in the book of Joshua and Judges when the people left some of the Canaanites in the Promised land.
- Two mitigating factors may be mentioned. In some ways, the death of a Canaanite child could have been a blessing if the child died before the age of accountability.
- Soon, Jesus Christ is going to return to slaughter the unrepentant wicked on the earth. We see the details in Revelation which makes this Holy War with Sihon look pale in comparison. The command to engage in Holy War is, of course, not acceptable today. God is not working through one nation to set up His kingdom on the earth necessarily.
The lesson to take away from this is we should be ruthless with sin in our own lives just as Israel was with the Canaanites. Don’t play around with it. Listen to the resolve of David.
I will set no wicked thing before mine eyes: I hate the work of them that turn aside; it shall not cleave to me. Psa 101:3
NotieNotice that this battle with King Sihon accomplished severalthingsseveral things in the soverignitysovereignty of God.
- First, the surrounding naotions will herarhear of it and be araidafraid of them (verse 25).
- Second, it gave them land which was everntallyeventually inherited by two tribes of Israel … Gaod and Reuben (verse 31 and further outlined in 3:12-17).
- Third, it showed the Israelites that God is bigger than giants (verse 33 and 36).
The eyes of Israel were opened that day. They now knew by personal experience that the Lord keeps His promise when they step out in faith. If He says something, He can be depended on no matter what it looks like to us. Sure, there may be a fierce battle, but God’s Word can be trusted.
It is the same for us today. God did not promise us that the Christian life would be a pleasant stroll. What do you think these verses mean?
And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force. Matt 11:12
Or, These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation; but be of good cheer: I have overcome the world. John 16:33
God speaks to us today through the Word of God illumined by the Spirit of God in our lives, and this story is for us today. He allows Giants in our lives. By the way, it doesn’t matter if you are living for the Lord or not. All of us face giants of fear. But as a Christian, God allows only those trials that we can defeat by faith (I Cor 10:13). And, just as Israel saw, that battle with fear is good for us.
It is good for me that I have been afflicted; that I might learn thy statutes. Psa 119:75
(*Story about my reaction with my wife when she told me to slow down while I was driving.)
And we will see, it is only the beginning of a walk of faith as God continually helps us grow. Verse 31 says, “Behold, I have begun to give …”
This week, when the shadow of a giant fear looms over you, look to God and say,
“You have not given me a spirit of fear. What time I am afraid, I will trust in you. Help me now to act in faith right now and not in fear.”
We will move to #13 on the map next week as we continue with their hike through history.