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The Promised Land


The marriage of God, who was called Jehovah, and Israel was destined to be a troubled one.  God married a harlot, a woman of the world, as the prophet, Hosea, would later reveal.  As a result, Israel proved to be unfaithful.  For Jehovah, it was a marriage of love, but for Israel it was a marriage based on freedom from bondage, convenience, blessings, and security.  For more than four hundred years, Israel was exposed to the pagan gods of Egypt, and it was difficult for them to completely break away from the past.

In fact, before Moses returned with God’s instructions for the religious ordinances, they broke their marriage vows, and committed spiritual adultery by making a golden calf for the purpose of worship.  God offered his bride, Israel, the privilege of being a missionary nation of priests to the Gentiles, but now only the sons of Aaron would have that honor.

The role of Israel, as a channel of God’s blessings to the world, will not materialize until after they bring forth the Messiah who will pay for our sins by dying on the cross.  By this time, they will have become spiritually blind and will not recognize their own son, the savior of the world.  There is strong evidence that their eyes were actually never opened to the full meaning of their religious ordinances and mission.  In the book of Deuteronomy, we read these words: “Yet the Lord has not given you a heart to perceive and eyes to see and ears to hear, to this very day” (Deut. 29:4).  Perhaps this is chastisement for their unfaithfulness.

Beginning with the march away from Mount Sinai, we will follow Israel into the land of Canaan, and observe their struggle between being a nation under God, and a nation yielding to the satanic influence of the Gentile nations.  They, as many of us have done, will ride a spiritual roller coaster alternating between mountain-top experiences with God, and periods of unfaithfulness where they plunge deep into the valley of sin.  We will see the day come when God has had enough, and He turns His back on His wife, chastises her, and allows her to be taken captive by the Gentile nations.

Forty Years in the Wilderness

On the twentieth day of the second month of the second year, the trumpets sounded, and the congregation of Israel prepared to march to the Promised Land.  The Angel of the Lord appeared in a cloud and guided them along the way (Ex. 14:19), Num. 9:15-23, Num. 10:11).
When they came to a place called Kadesh-barnea, located about one hundred miles south of Hebron, Moses sent spies into the new land.  They returned with glowing reports of the fertile land and samples of the fruit; however, they were afraid of the people who lived in the land.

“Then they told him, and said: ‘We went to the land where you sent us. It truly flows with milk and honey, and this is its fruit. Nevertheless the people who dwell in the land are strong; the cities are fortified and very large; moreover we saw the descendants of Anak there. The Amalekites dwell in the land of the South; the Hittites, the Jebusites, and the Amorites dwell in the mountains; and the Canaanites dwell by the sea and along the banks of the Jordan.’ Then Caleb quieted the people before Moses, and said, ‘Let us go up at once and take possession, for we are well able to overcome it.’  But the men who had gone up with him said, ‘We are not able to go up against the people, for they are stronger than we‘” (Num. 13:27-31).  

“So all the congregation lifted up their voices and cried, and the people wept that night. And all the children of Israel complained against Moses and Aaron, and the whole congregation said to them, ‘If only we had died in the land of Egypt! Or if only we had died in this wilderness! Why has the Lord brought us to this land to fall by the sword, that our wives and children should become victims? Would it not be better for us to return to Egypt?’ So they said to one another, ‘Let us select a leader and return to Egypt’“ (Num. 14:1-4).

Their grumbling and lack of faithfulness angered God very much because He had promised to deliver the land unto them.  “Then the Lord said to Moses: ‘How long will these people reject Me? And how long will they not believe Me, with all the signs which I have performed among them? I will strike them with the pestilence and disinherit them, and I will make of you a nation greater and mightier than they’“ (Num. 14:11-12).  

Moses interceded on behalf of the people and pleaded for their pardon.  “Then the Lord said: ‘I have pardoned, according to your word;  but truly, as I live, all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the Lord—  because all these men who have seen My glory and the signs which I did in Egypt and in the wilderness, and have put Me to the test now these ten times, and have not heeded My voice, they certainly shall not see the land of which I swore to their fathers, nor shall any of those who rejected Me see it.  But My servant Caleb, because he has a different spirit in him and has followed Me fully, I will bring into the land where he went, and his descendants shall inherit it’“ (Num. 14:20-24).

Now God gives the details of his punishment. “The carcasses of you who have complained against Me shall fall in this wilderness, all of you who were numbered, according to your entire number, from twenty years old and above. Except for Caleb the son of Jephunneh and Joshua the son of Nun, you shall by no means enter the land which I swore I would make you dwell in.  But your little ones, whom you said would be victims, I will bring in, and they shall know the land which you have despised. But as for you, your carcasses shall fall in this wilderness. And your sons shall be shepherds in the wilderness forty years, and bear the brunt of your infidelity, until your carcasses are consumed in the wilderness”‘ (Num. 14:29-33).

For forty years, the children of Israel wandered in the wilderness in the Kadesh-barnea area until all who were over the age of twenty had died.   During this wandering period, they were actually only a few travel days from the Promised Land.  Only Moses, Caleb, and Joshua were spared to lead the new generation out of the wilderness.  Since the Amalekites blocked the most direct route, which was northward, Moses turned southeast, and led his people east of the Jordan River and the Dead Sea around the land of Edom, Moab, and Ammon.  Then, marching as far North as the Sea of Galilee, the Israelites defeated the Amorites who lived east of the Jordan Valley.  Very quickly, they took possession of the Transjordan plateau, and marched south to the Plains of Moab, located on the northeast end of the Dead Sea.

A Congregational Briefing

Camped on the Plains of Moab, with the Promised Land in sight, Moses held school for the new generation.  Most of the people had grown up in the wilderness, and did not have first hand knowledge of life in Egypt, and the events that took place at Sinai.  Many of us can identify with their situation if we reflect on events associated with World War I and II.  Moses reviewed the history of their nation, restated the laws, and conditions of their covenant, gave commandments relating to the conquest of the land, rebuked them for being a “rebellious” and “stiff-necked” people, and warned them of the consequences of continuing in their rebellious ways.  Today, we can read Moses’ instructions in the latter chapters of Numbers and in the book of Deuteronomy.

Special emphasis was placed on the importance of driving the enemy out of the Land lest the Israelites come under the satanic influence of the Gentiles.  “… When you have crossed the Jordan into the land of Canaan, then you shall drive out all the inhabitants of the land from before you, destroy all their engraved stones, destroy all their molded images, and demolish all their high places; you shall dispossess the inhabitants of the land and dwell in it, for I have given you the land to possess” “But if you do not drive out the inhabitants of the land from before you, then it shall be that those whom you let remain shall be irritants in your eyes and thorns in your sides, and they shall harass you in the land where you dwell. Moreover it shall be that I will do to you as I thought to do to them” (Num. 33:51b-53, 55-56).

After Moses completed his instructions, he called the priests and elders together, and gave them the books that he had written.  “And Moses commanded them, saying: ‘At the end of every seven years, at the appointed time in the year of release, at the Feast of Tabernacles, when all Israel comes to appear before the Lord your God in the place which He chooses, you shall read this law before all Israel in their hearing. Gather the people together, men and women and little ones, and the stranger who is within your gates, that they may hear and that they may learn to fear the Lord your God and carefully observe all the words of this law, and that their children, who have not known it, may hear and learn to fear the Lord your God as long as you live in the land which you cross the Jordan to possess’” (Deut. 31:10-13).

“Then Moses went up from the plains of Moab to Mount Nebo, to the top of Pisgah, which is across from Jericho. And the Lord showed him all the land of Gilead as far as Dan, all Naphtali and the land of Ephraim and Manasseh, all the land of Judah as far as the Western Sea,  the South, and the plain of the Valley of Jericho, the city of palm trees, as far as Zoar. Then the Lord said to him, ‘This is the land of which I swore to give Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, saying, ‘I will give it to your descendants.’ I have caused you to see it with your eyes, but you shall not cross over there.’ So Moses the servant of the Lord died there in the land of Moab, according to the word of the Lord”  “And the children of Israel wept for Moses in the plains of Moab thirty days. So the days of weeping and mourning for Moses ended” (Deut. 34:1-5, 8).

“Now Joshua the son of Nun was full of the spirit of wisdom, for Moses had laid his hands on him; so the children of Israel heeded him, and did as the Lord had commanded Moses” (Deut. 34:9).  The command has passed from Moses to Joshua whom God has chosen to lead the people into battle.  Joshua was filled with the Holy Spirit, who would guide him in this awesome responsibility.

The Land of Canaan

Now to continue this study click on: The Land of Canaan.

Covenant Reconfirmed

Now to complete this study click on: The Canaanites.

All quoted scripture is from the New King James Version (NKJV) version unless otherwise noted.
Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.

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