Deuteronomy Chapter 1 Review: Why didn’t enter the Promised LandAug 27th, 2009 | By admin | Category: Deuteronomy, Verse by Verse --Studies led by Br. Frank Shallieu (Click on Book name)
Deuteronomy Chapter 1
The Book of Deuteronomy is the fifth (and last) book in the Pentateuch. The name is somewhat an abbreviation of the Latin Deuteronomium, meaning “second law.” It has been suggested that this word indicates a reiteration of the Law to Israel, with which the previous generation was acquainted. However, since that generation died in the wilderness, not all of the current generation were cognizant of the experiences of the earlier generation. Therefore, Moses reviewed the experiences of Israel, who had departed from Egypt to meet God at Mount Sinai, where they were instructed as to the course they would subsequently follow as His people. All of these thoughts seem to be embodied in the expression “Deuteronomy.”
In addition, the latter part of the name, “onomy” (onomos), is like astronomy, which means the law of the stars, and “Deuter” means two, second, or repetition. God’s method in instructing His people is always to have two or three confirmatory witnesses to attest whatever important lesson He wishes to convey to His people (both natural and spiritual Israel). Hence those who profess to honor and serve Him will be without excuse as to the availability of instruction. They will not be able to say in the future, “Why didn’t you tell me?”
The beginning five verses of Deuteronomy are preparatory in that they introduce the book to the reader. Certainly Moses had nothing to do with writing the first five verses. Expositors of this book acknowledge that these verses are an introduction written by another hand, but they differ as to whether it was the hand of Ezra or Joshua, who led the Israelites into the land of Canaan following the death of Moses. We are inclined to feel that Ezra penned these verses, for the work, or ministry, of Joshua in conquering the land was only six years in duration. Joshua’s life after Moses was relatively short, and during that time, he was engaged in warfare with the Canaanites—a work that was not conducive to writing. Of course Moses wrote the remainder of the Book of Deuteronomy, as Holy Writ attests.
Deut. 1:1 These be the words which Moses spake unto all Israel on this side Jordan in the wilderness, in the plain over against the Red sea, between Paran, and Tophel, and Laban, and Hazeroth, and Dizahab.
The Book of Deuteronomy comprises “the words which Moses spake unto all Israel on this [the east] side [of the] Jordan [River] in the wilderness” in the plain of Moab (or opposite Jericho). Eventually, it will be seen that Deuteronomy consists of two lectures, both on the same theme. Moses’ words were spoken “in the plain over against the Red sea.” This “plain” seems to be the Arabah, the wadi or very great valley, that leads from the southern part of Israel down to the Gulf of Aqaba. The account is not saying that Moses was down near the Gulf of Aqaba at the time he gave his discourses; rather, it is saying that he was much farther north at the southern entry into Palestine but on the left (or west) side of the Dead Sea, where, according to God’s command, the Israelites were to enter the land. In other words, when the Israelites left Mount Horeb, which is one of the peaks of the Mount Sinai complex, they journeyed north in that direction to make entry into the Promised Land. The other route was to travel way around to the right and go up on the east side of the Dead Sea, circling and then entering through Jericho—which they eventually had to do.
Notice that the word “sea,” in italics in the King James, is a supplied word and should be omitted. Therefore, the plain was “over against the red,” but what the “red” landmark was in Moab we do not know. Possibly the reflection of the sun on the mountain in that particular desert area gave a reddish hue. In any event, the location was not over against the Red Sea, for that body of water did not extend 100 miles north of Aqaba.
Q: Under the entry “Red Sea,” Young’s Analytical Concordance states that the head of the Gulf of Aqaba has “retired 50 miles since the birth of Christ.” Therefore, back in Joshua’s day, a thousand years earlier, couldn’t the Gulf of Aqaba have extended many miles even farther north, perhaps a hundred miles in all? If so, would that possibility have some bearing on the word “red”?
A: Yes, it could. That comment is worthy of consideration because the account seems to refer inferentially to the Red Sea. The translators supplied the word “sea” because they had that thought. The same thing has happened in Ephesus, Turkey. Over the years the water has receded about two miles from the Temple of Diana, but of course the Gulf of Aqaba is a much greater distance.
The next word that becomes a problem is Paran. Moses spoke to “all Israel … between Paran, and Tophel, and Laban, and Hazeroth, and Dizahab.” There were several Parans, but this Paran was near Jericho, the plain of Moab, and the Jordan River, where the Israelites were about to cross. The cities of Tophel, Laban, Hazeroth, and Dizahab were listed so that in the future, when the Bible is made plain to all mankind, its outstanding accuracy in minute detail will be seen—to the embarrassment of historians and others who have questioned the veracity of the Scriptures. Incidentally, Hazeroth is mentioned as a stopping place in Numbers 33:17.
The Book of Deuteronomy was a climactic experience for Moses—his swan song, as it were. He tried to put his whole heart and soul into this book, so that he could feel he had accomplished his ministry as a faithful steward of the Lord’s Word. Moses gave this discourse in the fortieth year of the wilderness wanderings, before the Israelites entered the Promised Land. Therefore, he was reminiscing about what had happened much earlier and how the Israelites had failed to obey God in entering the Promised Land.
Deut. 1:2 (There are eleven days’ journey from Horeb by the way of mount Seir unto Kadesh-barnea.)
Mount Seir, which is associated with Edom, is seen if one travels north from Mount Horebon the right side of the Dead Sea. The Israelites disobeyed God by not entering the Promised Land at the beginning of the 40 years when He told them to go in. Later, of their own presumption, they tried to enter by going up the left side of the Dead Sea, and they suffered a terrific defeat at the hands of the Amorites. Now, finally, they had gotten to the plain of Jericho, where they were about to enter the Promised Land, having gone up the right (east) side of the Dead Sea.
Verse 2 is a parenthetical statement, an interjection into the account of what Moses spoke at the end of the 40 years the Israelites were in the wilderness. Moses was now up in the Jericho vicinity, far from Kadesh-barnea, reviewing the history of Israel.
Kadesh-barnea, which is on the left side of the Dead Sea, is where the Israelites tried to enter the land many years earlier. From Mount Sinai to Kadesh-barnea was an 11-day journey on foot, the distance being about 100 miles. Incidentally, by horse or camel the journey from Mount Sinai to Kadesh-barnea was much shorter. On average, according to Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown, a person traveling by camel goes 30 miles a day, by caravan 25 miles a day, and by foot 20 miles a day. Although the average person could travel 20 miles a day, the tremendous host of 2 million Israelites would cover about half that distance.
Q: Was Moses saying that the journey would have taken only 11 days if the Israelites had obeyed earlier?
A: Yes. Verses 1-5 are given to contrast two events: the actual entry into the Promised Land up near Jericho, which was about to take place, and an earlier experience.
Near the beginning of the 40 years, when the Israelites left Mount Horeb to go on their journey, God had said, “You have been dwelling here long enough.” They had dwelled at Mount Sinai for almost a full year, and now they were told to move on and follow the cloud wherever it would lead them. However, that instruction does not mean that 11 days later, they ended up in Kadesh-barnea. The account is just stating that it would take 11 days of ordinary travel to make the transit. (Actually, the Israelites went a three-day journey and stopped, and a lot of events happened. Then they traveled for several more days, and other events occurred, for example, the two temptations at Hazeroth.)
It is interesting that before the Israelites entered the Promised Land, they murmured ten times and disobeyed, causing God’s wrath to surface. These ten times all occurred prior to the entry of the spies into the Promised Land.
Deut. 1:3 And it came to pass in the fortieth year, in the eleventh month, on the first day of the month, that Moses spake unto the children of Israel, according unto all that the LORD had given him in commandment unto them;
Now the narrative resumes. “And it came to pass in the fortieth year, in the eleventh month, on the first day of the month, that Moses spake [the Book of Deuteronomy] unto the children of Israel, according unto all that the LORD had [previously] given him in commandment.” In other words, Moses repeated all over again, in the two long discourses, the instruction God had given him during the 40 years.
The fortieth year was the last year that the Israelites wandered in the wilderness. Moses died about five weeks later, and then Joshua took over. These verses are introductory to the main or first discourse that Moses was about to give.
Deut. 1:4 After he had slain Sihon the king of the Amorites, which dwelt in Heshbon, and Og the king of Bashan, which dwelt at Astaroth in Edrei:
Verse 4 brings us into the current situation as to where and when Moses began his discourse, that is, after he had slain Sihon, the king of the Amorites in Heshbon, their capital, and Og, the king of Bashan at Astaroth. “Og” reminds us of Gog, and a connection is inferred.
Deut. 1:5 On this side Jordan, in the land of Moab, began Moses to declare this law, saying, The term “this side Jordan” was the east side of the river, for it was in the land of Moab. Moses began to declare “this law,” that is, the Torah, the writings of the Law. Many say Deuteronomy is a repetition discourse of the Law—hence a review.
Q: Why did Moses feel it necessary to give this review?
A: Don’t we, as God’s students, or children, sometimes need several lessons in order to grasp a matter? But what surprises us is that of the multitude of Israelites, only two individuals (Joshua and Caleb) heeded the instruction. Thus we are given a possible insight, in a broad-brush statement, as to the proportion, or ratio, between the Little Flock and the professed people of God, which would include the true and the nominal.
Comment: Since all of the disobedient of the first generation had now died, Moses was speaking to the second generation.
Q: In regard to those who died in the wilderness, wasn’t it only those who were 20 years old and upward, except for Joshua and Caleb? Also, since the Levites were not numbered, they were not included in the penalty.
A: Yes, that is correct. Certainly the two priests of the older generation, Eleazar and Ithamar, entered the Promised Land. At least 2 million Israelites left Egypt, and at least 2 million entered the land.
Deut. 1:6 The LORD our God spake unto us in Horeb, saying, Ye have dwelt long enough in this mount:
Deut. 1:7 Turn you, and take your journey, and go to the mount of the Amorites, and unto all the places nigh thereunto, in the plain, in the hills, and in the vale, and in the south, and by the sea side, to the land of the Canaanites, and unto Lebanon, unto the great river, the river Euphrates.
Deut. 1:8 Behold, I have set the land before you: go in and possess the land which the LORD sware unto your fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give unto them and to their seed after them.
Verses 6-8 describe the land that was acquired during the reign of Solomon. The land extended up to the river Euphrates. Moses was reiterating the promise God had made to Israel at the time of the giving of the Law at Mount Horeb. Thus he repeated the extent of the territory of the Promised Land that would be given to Abraham and his seed. God had said, “Behold, I have set the land before you: go in and possess the land which the LORD sware unto your fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give unto them and to their seed after them.”
When the spies secretly entered the Promised Land, they did not merely explore the lower part but actually went deep into the land. On their return journey, they brought back grapes from Eshcol (Num. 13:23-25).
Basically, the account is just telling that Moses gave his first discourse on the plain of Moab in the fortieth year about five weeks prior to the Israelites’ entry into the land. The second (and much longer) discourse was given the same year just before they crossed the Jordan.
Deut. 1:9 And I spake unto you at that time, saying, I am not able to bear you myself alone: Deut. 1:10 The LORD your God hath multiplied you, and, behold, ye are this day as the stars of heaven for multitude.
Critics of the validity of Scripture say verse 10 is an overstatement—that the children of Israel about to enter the land were in number “as the stars of heaven for multitude.” Actually, when properly considered, verse 10 is not a gross overstatement. The number of Israelites about to enter the Promised Land, in spite of the 2 million who died, was again 2 million, and this number can be compared to the visible stars of heaven. In other words, the naked eye, without a telescope, could see about 100,000 stars in the pure, unpolluted air back in Moses’ day. The bottom line is that “stars of heaven for multitude” was just an expression.
Deut. 1:11 (The LORD God of your fathers make you a thousand times so many more as ye are, and bless you, as he hath promised you!)
It is interesting that the translators put an exclamation point in this parenthetical expression, showing they were emotionally involved.
Deut. 1:12 How can I myself alone bear your cumbrance, and your burden, and your strife?
Deut. 1:13 Take you wise men, and understanding, and known among your tribes, and I will make them rulers over you.
Deut. 1:14 And ye answered me, and said, The thing which thou hast spoken is good for us to do.
Deut. 1:15 So I took the chief of your tribes, wise men, and known, and made them heads over you, captains over thousands, and captains over hundreds, and captains over fifties, and captains over tens, and officers among your tribes.
Deut. 1:16 And I charged your judges at that time, saying, Hear the causes between your brethren, and judge righteously between every man and his brother, and the stranger that is with him.
Deut. 1:17 Ye shall not respect persons in judgment; but ye shall hear the small as well as the great; ye shall not be afraid of the face of man; for the judgment is God’s: and the cause that is too hard for you, bring it unto me, and I will hear it.
Deut. 1:18 And I commanded you at that time all the things which ye should do.
Verses 12-18 tell of the alternate method of alleviating Moses from the burden of hearing the causes of all the people. When the Israelites left Egypt and entered a high plateau in Sinai, Moses sat on a rock in a valley gorge and the people came up to him with their cases for individual judgment. Even today the Arabs follow the tradition of going to the king for advice, instruction, or judgment. Moses was burdened in doing this for 2 million people, who were discontented and voicing grievances.
Notice what Moses did not say when reiterating this method of hearing the grievances of the people—that it was his father-in-law, Raguel (Jethro), who said the original procedure was too much. Raguel wisely suggested that Moses distribute his authority among others, and only when a problem was too difficult would it be brought to him. That way Moses would be relieved of a great burden. In giving this discourse, Moses knew his time was short, so he did not include all of the details that might have been told under other circumstances. Certainly his intention was not to take honor away from Raguel by not mentioning him here.
Incidentally, God gave great wisdom to those who framed the United States Constitution. Checks and balances were providentially incorporated, thus preventing the later development of a dictatorship.
Verse 17 states that God is not a respecter of persons in the judgment of right and wrong.
However, he is a respecter of persons in other areas; for example, He chose Israel out of all the nations of earth. And not only did He choose the apostles from amongst believers, but Jesus chose three of the apostles—Peter, James, and John—for an inner fellowship. In the judgment of right and wrong, when a case came before a judge, two criteria were to be observed. (1) If a poor person had a grievance or a sad story of an injustice done to him, the judge was to judge righteously and not allow his emotions to influence his opinion or judgment, for a person’s financial state has nothing to do with judgment. Emotional involvement can warp a judge’s decision. (2) If the person with the grievance was rich, well dressed, and proud or bold, the judge was to be fearless in making his decision. In other words, fear of man and concern about what others might think were not to influence judgment.
Sometimes a Christian may know that the majority of God’s professed people will think he is doing the wrong thing, but he must judge righteously and fairly, nevertheless. It often helps to ask, “What would Jesus do?”
Comment: James 2:1-4 reads, “My brethren, have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with respect of persons. For if there come unto your assembly a man with a gold ring, in goodly apparel, and there come in also a poor man in vile raiment; And ye have respect to him that weareth the gay clothing, and say unto him, Sit thou here in a good place; and say to the poor, Stand thou there, or sit here under my footstool: Are ye not then partial in yourselves, and are become judges of evil thoughts?” The New Testament also cautions not to have respect of persons.
Comment: In Christian circles, there is the danger of relatives not saying anything in moral matters because they are family, and thus they look the other way.
Deut. 1:19 And when we departed from Horeb, we went through all that great and terrible wilderness, which ye saw by the way of the mountain of the Amorites, as the LORD our God commanded us; and we came to Kadesh-barnea.
Deut. 1:20 And I said unto you, Ye are come unto the mountain of the Amorites, which the LORD our God doth give unto us.
Deut. 1:21 Behold, the LORD thy God hath set the land before thee: go up and possess it, as the LORD God of thy fathers hath said unto thee; fear not, neither be discouraged.
Before discussing verse 19, we will again read verse 6 and part of verse 7: “The LORD our God spake unto us in Horeb, saying, Ye have dwelt long enough in this mount: Turn you, and take your journey, and go to the mount of the Amorites, and unto all the places nigh thereunto.”
What about God’s statement to the Israelites that they had dwelled long enough in the mount?
They were at Mount Sinai for about a year, and during that time, they were busily occupied in preparing the materials for the eventual construction of the Tabernacle. We are reminded that when we first consecrated, we had the privilege of drinking in the truth and flourishing and having the sunshine of favor. Usually each of us also had a severe trial, but that trial was a learning process. While the Israelites were at Mount Sinai, Moses read the Law aloud and instructed them in what they could and could not do, and in what they should and should not do—with regard to not only the ceremonial aspects of the Law but also the moral or instructional manner in which they should live. After the preparation was finished, it was time for the Israelites to go and have another experience.
We are reminded of the Manna text of June 4, “That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ” (1 Pet. 1:7). The comment follows: “It is your faith that is on trial now. In the calmer days, when the sun of favor shone brightly upon you, you were quietly laying the foundation of a knowledge of the Truth, and rearing the superstructure of Christian character. Now you are [to be] in the furnace to be proved: summon therefore all your courage; fortify your patience; nerve yourself to endurance; hold fast to your hope; call to mind the promises, [for] they are still yours; and ‘cast not away your confidence, which hath great recompense of reward.’ ‘In quietness and confidence shall be your strength.’ ‘Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for Him,’ and faith has gained her victory.”
Verse 6 and the initial part of verse 7 seem to tie in with verse 19. Verses 19-21 are more or less a direction of thought along one line. Verse 19 states that after the Israelites left Sinai, they were to go through the “great and terrible wilderness” on the way to Kadesh-barnea, which was the locale where, according to instruction, they were to take the stronghold of the Amorites. The “wilderness” was their trial period, their furnace of affliction. Similarly with us, after we get a foundation of the truth in the beginning of our Christian walk, most of us have very severe trials to overcome. Thus a “wilderness” experience comes before us.
When the natural Israelites got to Kadesh-barnea, Moses said, “Ye are come unto the mountain of the Amorites, which the LORD our God doth give unto us”; that is, “This mountain, which is occupied by the Amorites is ours.” In verse 21, Moses instructed, “Go up and possess it [the land of the Amorites].” Right away we are reminded of Genesis 15:16, where God said to Abram, “But in the fourth generation they shall come hither again: for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet full.” God had just told Abram to cut various animals in parts to offer in sacrifice and then to go to Egypt, where his seed would be afflicted.
Q: Verses 7, 19, and 20 in the RSV use the term “hill country” instead of “mount” or “mountain of the Amorites.” What is the accurate thought?
A: The Amorites occupied the higher part of a mountain range so that they could observe the people who lay on the plain below in the land of Canaan and subject them to oppression.
At the end of the 40 years in the wilderness, Moses was reviewing what the Israelites had done in the second year of their journey when spies were sent into the Land of Promise. Verse 4 speaks of Sihon, the king of the Amorites, and Og, the king of Bashan, who was much farther north but in a similar situation of domination. Deuteronomy 4:46,47 calls both kings Amorites because Og was also an Amorite, even though he was the king of Bashan.
“Behold, the LORD thy God hath set the land [of the Amorites] before thee: go up and possess it, as the LORD God of thy fathers hath said unto thee; fear not, neither be discouraged.” Here we see the character of Moses—his confidence in God’s instruction and his great anticipation of victory.
Comment: Psalm 68:15,16 reads, “The hill of God is as the hill of Bashan; an high hill as the hill of Bashan. Why leap ye, ye high hills? this is the hill which God desireth to dwell in; yea, the LORD will dwell in it for ever.” The hill of Bashan has been set aside for Israel.
Reply: The Psalmist David, who wrote at a much later period of time, spoke considerably about the Exodus and the experiences of Israel in the Wilderness of Sinai. Also, sprinkled throughout the Book of Deuteronomy itself are comments similar to those in Psalm 68:15,16.
Deut. 1:22 And ye came near unto me every one of you, and said, We will send men before us, and they shall search us out the land, and bring us word again by what way we must go up, and into what cities we shall come.
From the midst of the Israelites came forth a suggestion. The people implied they were more or less in agreement with what Moses had said and were willing to “go up” and possess the land of the Amorites, but they suggested that, first, it might be advisable to clandestinely or surreptitiously send into that land a certain number of spies to search out the best path of entry. The spies would bring back word “by what way we must go up, and into what cities we shall come.”
Deut. 1:23 And the saying pleased me well: and I took twelve men of you, one of a tribe:
The advice pleased Moses, and accordingly, 12 men, one from each tribe, were sent to search out the land.
Deut. 1:24 And they turned and went up into the mountain, and came unto the valley of Eshcol, and searched it out.
Deut. 1:25 And they took of the fruit of the land in their hands, and brought it down unto us, and brought us word again, and said, It is a good land which the LORD our God doth give us.
Deut. 1:26 Notwithstanding ye would not go up, but rebelled against the commandment of the LORD your God:
At first, the people were willing to go up and possess the land, but when the 12 spies returned, there was a change of heart. Rebellion began to foment as to the inadvisability of heeding the Lord’s instruction.
Deut. 1:27 And ye murmured in your tents, and said, Because the LORD hated us, he hath brought us forth out of the land of Egypt, to deliver us into the hand of the Amorites, to destroy us.
Notice what the Israelites had said in their murmurings: “Because the LORD hated us, he hath brought us forth out of the land of Egypt, to deliver us into the hand of the Amorites, to destroy us.” In spite of deliverance from the plagues, journeying through the Red Sea, the supply of manna, numerous other miracles, and correctional judgments, the older generation of Israelites, those 20 years of age and upward when they left Egypt, had this rebellious attitude. From the time of the Exodus until they arrived at Kadesh-barnea, which was only the second year of the wilderness journey, they rebelled ten different times. The Israelites were punished subsequently and prevented from entering the Promised Land until 38 years later.
Comment: Since the nation of Israel pictures the Church, it is sobering to realize that when difficulties arise, we, too, tend to lack faith in the Lord and murmur audibly or become fearful. Their attitude shows us what we have to overcome.
Reply: Yes, “all these things happened unto them for examples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world [age] are come” (1 Cor. 10:11).
Comment: The murmuring was even more serious because it came forth from those who had served the longest in hard bondage to the Egyptians. They quickly forgot what it was like to be hit on the back with a whip and to be oppressed.
Reply: Yes. As new creatures, we should frequently reflect on how the Lord has dealt with us in the past. Even though the Scriptures say the promise is given unto us and our children, we could all testify that there was a miraculous nature in connection with our initial release from bondage to sin and our coming into the truth (Acts 2:39). The danger is in forgetting what the Lord has done for us. One of the chief faults of the Israelites is that they “forgat his [Jehovah’s] works” in their deliverance from bondage (Psa. 78:11). Thus it is always helpful in times of trial and discouragement to reflect on the Lord’s past leadings. Thinking about the precious promises helps us to surmount the difficulties.
Deut. 1:28 Whither shall we go up? our brethren have discouraged our heart, saying, The people is greater and taller than we; the cities are great and walled up to heaven; and moreover we have seen the sons of the Anakims there.
The nature of the report was that the walls of the city were so exceedingly high that they were “walled up to heaven.” The Israelites reasoned, “How would we climb over those high walls, and even if we did, the inhabitants inside are like giants in stature and strength compared to us.” The lesson to us as Christians is that when we weigh things from a natural standpoint, the enemy is greater and stronger than we are. Thus in our experiences in life, the only thing that can overcome difficulties is FAITH, and reflection is an element of faith. The victory that overcomes the world is our faith in God (1 John 5:4). “If God be for us, who can be against us?” (Rom. 8:31).
From a natural standpoint, the observation of the 12 spies who went into the land was correct, but the discouraging slant given by ten of those spies was another matter. Only Joshua and Caleb gave an encouraging report. Caleb said, “Let us go up at once, and possess it [the land]; for we are well able to overcome it” (Num. 13:30). It is wonderful to see the character of Caleb and Joshua in viewing the enemy in the proper manner of faith. Faith is tested by doubt, but an overcoming faith dispels doubt.
Comment: “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Heb. 11:1).
Comment: The spies who gave the bad report said that the cities were “walled, and very great” but not that they were “walled up to heaven” (Num. 13:28). Here was an exaggeration on how the people interpreted the negative report. Similarly, the fleshly tendency in our Christian walk is to fear an obstacle and make it look greater than the reality.
Comment: Og was also one of the giants (Deut. 3:11).
Reply: His height is indicated by the dimensions of his iron bedstead, which was 9 cubits long and 4 cubits wide, or 13 1/2 feet by 6 feet. We will discuss the details when we get to chapter 3.
For now, we are just considering strands that are before us and making certain observations.
Hyperbole does have its place, however. We are reminded of the people’s intentions at the building of the Tower of Babel. They said, “Go to, let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven” (Gen. 11:4). The implication was that if another flood occurred, the tower would be of such great height that those inside would be above the water.
Q: Since the statement about the walls going up to heaven was an exaggeration, could the assessment that the people were as big as the hybrid race also be an exaggeration?
A: It is true there was exaggeration. However, the specific dimensions of Og’s bed prove he was tremendous in size.
Although hyperbole has its place, we should never be discouraged in regard to obstacles that are ahead because the very fact they confront us indicates they are designed to be a test of our faith. As Bro. Krebbs used to say, not only is the proof of our faith more valuable than silver or gold, but even the test that permits the exercise of faith is exceedingly more valuable than these metals (1 Pet. 1:7). Both the test and passing the test successfully are valuable. When trials are viewed in that light, we can say, “Let us go up at once, and possess [take] it.” It is encouraging to realize that the Lord must think favorably of us to allow an experience to come as a test.
Deut. 1:29 Then I said unto you, Dread not, neither be afraid of them.
Verses 29-33 are wonderful advice for us now as well as for the Israelites back there. Bro. Anton Frey drew many wonderful lessons for the Christian from the experiences in the Wilderness of Sinai—so much so that brethren associated him with the Tabernacle. He spoke so frequently on the subject that it was almost synonymous with his name. Spiritualizing the experiences of the natural Israelites was a very valuable and helpful ministry.
At the end of the 40 years, Moses addressed the Israelites, “[Back] Then [two years into the wilderness experience] I said unto you [the older generation, who had since died], Dread not, neither be afraid of them [the Amorites].”
Comment: In Psalm 78:21-24,27, David said God’s anger was kindled against Israel “because they believed not in God, and trusted not in his salvation: Though he had commanded the clouds from above, and opened the doors of heaven, And had rained down manna upon them to eat, and had given them of the corn of heaven…. He rained flesh also upon them as dust, and feathered fowls like as the sand of the sea.” Even with all of the miracles, the Israelites murmured and forgot.
Reply: Yes, they still rebelled and refused to recognize the advice. Thus we see the importance of ever keeping in mind what the Lord has done for us in the past as well as in the present.
Adding the past to the present helps us to have confidence in future trials that yet await us. Reflecting upon the character of God as a merciful Father and His past providences over our individual Christian lives gives support to our faith. If we are then obedient and overcome the difficulty, the very exercise of the experience in our mind, character, and life strengthens faith, for faith grows by opposition. Stated another way, the muscles of faith are developed through trials. How important the past is! Deuteronomy is history, but the lessons are very valuable.
Comment: In connection with the “fear” mentioned in verse 29, Isaiah 8:12 says, “Say ye not, A confederacy, to all them to whom this people shall say, A confederacy; neither fear ye their fear, nor be afraid.” In the coming church-state union, Satan will use the tool of fear.
Reply: Usually, it is the suddenness of a trial intruding upon the experience of the Christian that brings fear. When a trial comes gradually, we see the danger more clearly and can summon up strength through prayer, but the devil tries to surprise us by confronting us suddenly. We have often thought of brethren in Europe who were faithful at the time of the Nazi domination.
They were in their own homes when suddenly there came a knock at the door—or a breaking down of the door—and the Gestapo rushed in. That abrupt intrusion into the homestead tested the mettle of the character of those brethren. An analogy is the roar of the lion, which has a paralyzing effect upon the victim. Hence we see the value and the importance of prophecy.
Prophecy is a necessary ingredient to help stabilize our faith if and when such a circumstance enters into our experience.
Q: Was Jesus trying to teach the same lesson when he was asleep in the boat with his apostles during the fierce storm on the Sea of Galilee?
A: Yes, the principle is the same. The lesson is to recognize that God is for us and Jesus is present. Then we will be able to overcome the elements that would otherwise be impossible, for we are no match for the devil in our own strength. By the grace of God and the faith that is instilled if we are faithful, we will overcome. People do not learn because they forget, and then the experience has to be repeated.
Deut. 1:30 The LORD your God which goeth before you, he shall fight for you, according to all that he did for you in Egypt before your eyes;
Deut. 1:31 And in the wilderness, where thou hast seen how that the LORD thy God bare thee, as a man doth bear his son, in all the way that ye went, until ye came into this place.
“The LORD your God … shall fight for you, according to all that he did for you in Egypt before your [very] eyes; and in the wilderness, where thou hast seen how … the LORD thy God bare thee, as a … son.” God used another illustration with regard to the eagle: “For the LORD’S portion is his people; Jacob is the lot of his inheritance. He [God] found him [Jacob] in a desert land, and in the waste howling wilderness; he led him about, he instructed him, he kept him as the apple of his eye. As an eagle stirreth up her nest, fluttereth over her young, spreadeth abroad her wings, taketh them, beareth them on her wings: So the LORD alone did lead him,
and there was no strange god with him” (Deut. 32:9-12). The cloud over the Israelites by day, providing shelter from the heat of the noonday sun, and the fire over them by night, giving illumination in their night journeys and encampments, should have been a stimulus to their faith. Such providential care should ever be kept in mind. Recall is one of our difficulties, but the Holy Spirit aids our recall if we remember to push the “recall button,” as it were.
Comment: Verses 30 and 31 remind us of the “Footprints” poem, where there is only one set of footprints in the sand because Jesus is carrying us.
Reply: The Song of Solomon contains a somewhat similar thought. The Bride class asks Jesus, “Tell me, O thou whom my soul loveth, where thou feedest, where thou makest thy flock to rest at noon: for why should I be as one that turneth aside by the flocks of thy companions?” Jesus replies, “If thou know not, O thou fairest among women, go thy way forth by the footsteps of the flock, and feed thy kids beside the shepherds’ tents” (Song 1:7,8).
Deut. 1:32 Yet in this thing ye did not believe the LORD your God,
“Yet … ye did not believe the LORD your God.” These lessons for natural Israel, which are part of the value of studying the Book of Deuteronomy, were written for our instruction upon whom the ends of the ages are come (1 Cor. 10:11). The lessons are particularly pertinent for the end-time period of both the Jewish and the Gospel ages.
Deut. 1:33 Who went in the way before you, to search you out a place to pitch your tents in, in fire by night, to show you by what way ye should go, and in a cloud by day.
Deut. 1:34 And the LORD heard the voice of your words, and was wroth, and sware, saying,
Deut. 1:35 Surely there shall not one of these men of this evil generation see that good land, which I sware to give unto your fathers,
Deut. 1:36 Save Caleb the son of Jephunneh; he shall see it, and to him will I give the land that he hath trodden upon, and to his children, because he hath wholly followed the LORD.
Deut. 1:37 Also the LORD was angry with me for your sakes, saying, Thou also shalt not go in thither.
Deut. 1:38 But Joshua the son of Nun, which standeth before thee, he shall go in thither: encourage him: for he shall cause Israel to inherit it.
Except for Caleb and Joshua, none of the older generation would enter the Promised Land excluding, of course, some of the tribe of Levi, who were not in this picture. In other words, of the original older generation, which was roughly age 20 and above at the time of the Exodus, only these two individuals would enter. If the multitude numbered approximately 2 million people at the time of the Exodus from Egypt and the crossing of the Red Sea, and only two entered the Promised Land, then perhaps the colloquial expression “one in a million” has a basis in that account, indicating an exceptional individual. Even the world uses that expression for someone of unusual character who is an example to others. From a spiritual standpoint, perhaps one out of a million believers makes his (or her) calling and election sure to inherit a spot in the Bride class. Thus the saying may be true in more ways than one.
Comment: Two Scriptures from the Book of Numbers show that the Levites were not included in the penalty because they were not numbered. “But the Levites after the tribe of their fathers were not numbered among them” (Num. 1:47). “Your carcases shall fall in this wilderness; and all that were numbered of you, according to your whole number, from twenty years old and upward, which have murmured against me” (Num. 14:29).
In the original older generation, there were 600,000 men of war. If they were between the ages of, say, 20 and 50, there were perhaps a million male adults and a million female adults. These hypothetical figures give us a hold on the situation. What is very unusual is that at that time, as far as the account of the lineage is concerned in the books of Genesis, Exodus, and Numbers, the males were quite numerous. For instance, Jacob had 12 sons and one daughter. The proportion is different today when females outnumber males almost 2.5 to 1.
Comment: In verse 35, only the men were condemned, not the women.
Reply: Based on the Book of Exodus and mathematics, probably not more than 2.25 million Israelites crossed the Red Sea. Thus only a certain portion of the males was numbered. The younger generation and those older than age 50 are not discussed.
Q: Were the women of that generation excluded from the condemnation?
A: The account does not say directly, but inferentially, we think so.
Comment: Joshua’s saying, “As for me and my house, we will serve the LORD,” shows that he had a faithful wife (Josh. 24:15). Here the condemnation was on the men of war because they refused to go into the land.
Reply: By inference, we are not to make the distinction between men and women in this instance. In types and antitypes, that which is omitted is purposely left out. Therefore, to consider the omission would blur the intended lesson. For us to try to prove that a few women of that generation entered the Promised Land would be disingenuous.
Comment: It is interesting that the name Caleb means “bold,” “impetuous,” and he is singled out as being the most outspoken with regard to the spies and the giving of a favorable report.
Comment: The promise given to Caleb differed somewhat from the promise given to Joshua.
Reply: Joshua represented Jesus when the Israelites entered the Promised Land but not before. Moses and Aaron have multiple representations depending upon the particular perspective or picture. For instance, Moses can represent God or a Second Death class, among other things. As a type, Caleb represents Jesus from a human standpoint—prior to entry into the Promised Land.
The Book of Deuteronomy was given at the time Moses was about to transfer his authority over to Joshua. In the book, Moses gave two main discourses plus a third short discourse. The basic lesson of verses 34-38 is how few of the older generation entered the Promised Land.
Comment: Verse 37 refers to Moses’ sharing in the penalty of the disobedient Israelites because he struck the rock twice at Meribah (Num. 20:8-13). Therefore, he could not enter the land.
Reply: Yes, that presumptuous act was a leading factor as to why Moses did not enter the Promised Land. Of course he was not a perfect man, but God gave His approval that Moses was faithful (Heb. 3:2). Like Abraham and other individuals of the Old Testament who are Ancient Worthies, Moses is listed as praiseworthy and faithful, but that commendation does not mean they did not do something at some time in their life that was not proper.
Comment: Numbers 20:12 shows that the penalty of disobedience was on Aaron as well, and he died shortly before the Israelites entered the Promised Land.
Moses was tried quite severely in that incident. On the one hand, all the murmuring of the Israelites was not an excuse for forgetting himself, but on the other hand, we, as Christians, also act inordinately at times. Each of us, since consecration, has done things that we are sorry for, things that we know are wrong. If we were judged as strictly as Moses was in the type, we would not inherit the antitypical Promised Land. Moses’ intentional act of disobedience in smiting the rock twice—and there may have been other acts that are not recorded in Holy Writ—pictures crucifying Christ afresh, which means Second Death in antitype (Heb. 6:6).
However, the fact God purposely had this act recorded as a type of Second Death does not necessarily mean that individuals who have done something completely incompatible with their consecration vows have committed the sin unto Second Death. The Pastor reasoned that one is judged according to the degree of culpability, that is, the measure of willfulness. For example, under the Mosaic Law, the brother of a murdered victim could slay the murderer, unless the perpetrator got to the city of refuge in time. The courts recognize the difference between slaying someone on the spur of the moment in the heat of anger and premeditated, deliberate murder, which merits the full penalty both literally and spiritually. This is one lesson we can get by reading the Book of Deuteronomy, for Moses brought up case after case of the Israelites’ acts of disobedience.
Deut. 1:39 Moreover your little ones, which ye said should be a prey, and your children, which in that day had no knowledge between good and evil, they shall go in thither, and unto them will I give it, and they shall possess it.
One of the Israelites’ favorite excuses for their murmurings was that God had brought them out of Egypt into the wilderness to kill not only them but also their offspring; that is, the Israelites used concern for their offspring as an excuse to sin, but there was no excuse. A spiritual lesson is that a son may enter the Kingdom and the parent does not, or vice versa. An example in Scripture is that David was faithful, but his son Absalom was not. We can all be instructed by these lessons—whatever the relationship: mother, father, wife, husband, son, etc.
Many examples are given, both favorable and unfavorable. God’s judgments are based not on family relationships but on principles. What about Rechab, whose progeny were faithful for many years? “Jonadab the son of Rechab … commanded us, saying, Ye shall drink no wine, neither ye, nor your sons for ever: Neither shall ye build house, nor sow seed, nor plant vineyard, nor have any: but all your days ye shall dwell in tents; that ye may live many days in the land where ye be strangers. Thus have we obeyed the voice of Jonadab … in all that he hath charged us, to drink no wine all our days, we, our wives, our sons, nor our daughters; Nor to
build houses for us to dwell in: neither have we vineyard, nor field, nor seed: But we have dwelt in tents, and have obeyed, and done according to all that Jonadab our father commanded us” (Jer. 35:6-10). With many examples and lessons of all kinds in the Scriptures—backwards,forwards, up, and down—we should not get high-minded, yet we can receive encouragement. Thus there are both warnings and encouragements.
Deut. 1:40 But as for you, turn you, and take your journey into the wilderness by the way of the Red sea.
What was the “way of the Red sea” into the wilderness? Many Bible maps are filled with errors as far as the identification of places and towns such as Kadesh-barnea and Paran. At this time, when Moses was giving this discourse, he and the Israelites were way up north in the plain of Moab in the vicinity of Jericho, generally speaking. Moses subsequently went to the top of Pisgah to view the Promised Land and was finally buried not far from that area (Deut. 34:1-6). When Joshua took over, it was not long before the Israelites were only 2,000 cubits from where they crossed the Jordan River into the Promised Land.
From that area up to the north, we believe the Israelites had to go way down near the Red Sea, and they traveled in the Arabah, in the valley. In this learning experience, they had to retrace, to some extent, the path they had already taken, although previously the route was a little more favorable, for the terrain was different in going northward to enter the Promised Land. The Israelites had left Mount Horeb, and the distance between Horeb and where they were in Kadesh-barnea was an 11 days’ journey by foot (Deut. 1:2). We get a feeling of the distance and the hardships that were involved. When we do something wrong after consecration, we sometimes have to go back and mentally retrace our steps, and we are encouraged by seeing how the Lord led us up to the point of the infraction. That is where God’s patience enters in.
The best cure for one who is consecrated and young is to be active in the Lord’s service. The activity helps to minimize—but not eliminate—the nature of the experiences and trials.
There are profitable lessons for us in the mistakes made by the older generation of Israelites, for the misdeeds call attention to the direction in which we might be heading and provide warnings. Warnings help us to make straight paths for our feet (Heb. 12:13).
The Israelites were to take their journey by the way of the Arabah leading down to the Red Sea. Some maps show the Israelites going down south, retracing their steps, and then circling back up northward toward Edom and Moab before entering the Promised Land. In the Book of Deuteronomy, Moses reviewed the experiences of the Israelites during their 40 years in the wilderness. Here he gave a brief account of their earlier experiences in leaving Horeb, and in later chapters, he expanded into the more current experiences.
Deut. 1:41 Then ye answered and said unto me, We have sinned against the LORD, we will go up and fight, according to all that the LORD our God commanded us. And when ye had girded on every man his weapons of war, ye were ready to go up into the hill.
Deut. 1:42 And the LORD said unto me, Say unto them, Go not up, neither fight; for I am not among you; lest ye be smitten before your enemies.
Deut. 1:43 So I spake unto you; and ye would not hear, but rebelled against the commandment of the LORD, and went presumptuously up into the hill.
Deut. 1:44 And the Amorites, which dwelt in that mountain, came out against you, and chased you, as bees do, and destroyed you in Seir, even unto Hormah.
The Israelites admitted they had sinned but then disobeyed again. Ignoring the commandment of God, they tried to overcome their fault in their own strength. Many brethren testify that during their Christian life, they were fighting a certain problem but were not getting the victory until they realized they were trying to overcome in their own strength. What is necessary is prayer, asking the Lord’s help, to get over a hurdle or fault. And that is what the Israelites failed to do here in going up presumptuously. God even gave the advice, “Go not up,” but they went anyway. These incidents in the type illustrate hard lessons experienced by some of the Lord’s people, for they show the intended victory—how and when and why the fault or problem should be handled according to the Lord’s specific instructions.
Incidentally, Israel’s leaving Mount Horeb represents our initial consecration. When we were at Mount Horeb in our experiences, we said, like the children of Israel, “All these things we will do.” We recognized God and made a commitment to serve Him until death. “Moses came and told the people all the words of the LORD, and all the judgments: and all the people answered with one voice, and said, All the words which the LORD hath said will we do” (Exod. 24:3). But after the commitment came the battle. When the Israelites left Horeb and went up to the mountain of the Amorites, the journey the Lord led them through took two years (one year from Mount Sinai)—considerably more than 11 days!
After the construction of the Tabernacle, God said the Israelites had been at Mount Horeb long enough and it was time to leave. At first, He led them by a certain path, but then He took them into “the great and terrible wilderness” (Deut. 1:19). With some in antitype, the “terrible wilderness” is the valley of depression. The point is that the Book of Deuteronomy contains valuable lessons for the Christian, but the lessons usually have to be extracted individually in privacy rather than in a class study lest we get bogged down with all of our problems. The lessons are proper and profitable for private meditation, for we have quite an experience in the antitypical Wilderness of Sinai. In growing older, we find that while we get certain victories, we have more faults than we had realized. The awareness comes that subconsciously we think too highly of ourselves. However, the Lord knows our condition, and it is good to have some optimism. Otherwise, we would be very discouraged and in a sad state. The Apostle Paul took an attitude of encouragement in his epistles. Nevertheless, when we do wrong, we will get retribution in the present life—as he did, for he was consecrated before he persecuted Christians. Although he had given his heart to God, he did not see Jesus in a new way until he had an experience on the way to Damascus. All of these helpful lessons encourage us and keep us from giving up. The purpose of the lessons is to benefit us in private study and meditation on the Word and thus to enable us to see what to do and what not to do.
Deut. 1:45 And ye returned and wept before the LORD; but the LORD would not hearken to your voice, nor give ear unto you.
Deut. 1:46 So ye abode in Kadesh many days, according unto the days that ye abode there.
In chapter 1, Moses was giving the historical account of what happened prior to the event momentarily pending, namely, the Israelites’ entrance into the Holy Land. Moses spoke to the people: “After you had been at Horeb for a while, God said you were there long enough. He instructed you to go north to the mountain of the Amorites and to enter in and possess the land, which He had promised to the fathers—to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.” Thus Moses gave instruction and a message of promise to the Israelites, implying that God would enable them to be successful. However, when they departed Mount Horeb (Sinai) and went through the terrible wilderness and arrived at Kadesh-barnea, their spirits were a little dubious, so a suggestion was made to send spies to search out the land prior to actual entry. Moses thought the suggestion was a good idea, and the Lord agreed, so 12 spies were sent out.
Moses was recapping the instruction the Lord had given the Israelites. God told the spies what to do when they saw the Promised Land. “And Moses sent them to spy out the land of Canaan, and said unto them, Get you up this way southward, and go up into the mountain: And see the land, what it is; and the people that dwelleth therein, whether they be strong or weak, few or many; And what the land is that they dwell in, whether it be good or bad; and what cities they be that they dwell in, whether in tents, or in strong holds; And what the land is, whether it be fat or lean, whether there be wood therein, or not. And be ye of good courage, and bring of the fruit of the land. Now the time was the time of the firstripe grapes” (Num. 13:17-20).
When the spies first entered the land, they were to see if it was good or bad. On a mountain with the land before them, they were to look and give a broad prospectus. In a closer look during their search for 40 days, they were to find out whether the people were strong or weak, whether the land was fat or lean, and whether or not it was wooded. Next they were told to be of good courage and to bring back some fruit of the land, for it was the season of first-ripe grapes. All of these instructions have an antitypical lesson. For example, the Israelites’ leaving Mount Horeb represents the Lord’s people at the time of consecration, when they say in effect, “All these things we will do.” They subsequently go out and have an antitypical journey through a “terrible wilderness,” a period of great stress including parting from family, but then they sober up and contemplate what things are to be done.
When the spies returned after 40 days of searching the land, they testified that it flowed with milk and honey, just as God had said. But then they gave a discouraging report: “You told us to see if the inhabitants were strong or weak, and we saw the children of Anak, particularly his three giant sons [Ahiman, Sheshai, and Talmai—Num. 13:22]. We felt like grasshoppers in their sight.”
In Deuteronomy, Moses reviewed many of the experiences that are recorded in the books of Exodus and Numbers. The repetition was like saying, “God always repeats Himself two or three times on important issues to certify that these matters merit contemplation.”
Of their own presumption after failing to enter the Land of Promise the first time, the Israelites subsequently tried to enter and were defeated in battle. As a punishment, they had to abide in Kadesh “many days” (a figurative term that can mean “many years,” as it does here). Now, 40 years later, Moses was reviewing the experiences of the Israelites.