Joshua and Judges: Push to the Promised Land: Disappointment - we seem to be going the wrong way. Num 20:12, 22-26; 21:1-9.

Title: Joshua and Judges: Push to the Promised Land: Disappointment - we seem to be going the wrong way. Num 20:12, 22-26; 21:1-9.


Announcements/opening prayer:



1Pe 2:18 Servants [household slave], be submissive to your masters with all respect, not only to those who are good and gentle, but also to those who are unreasonable.


1Pe 2:19 For this finds favor [this (is) grace], if for the sake of conscience toward God a man bears up under sorrows when suffering unjustly.


1Pe 2:20 For what credit is there if, when you sin and are harshly treated, you endure it with patience? But if when you do what is right and suffer for it you patiently endure it, this finds favor with [pros = face to face] God.


vv. 19-20: For this [is] grace, if for the sake of conscience toward God a man bears up under sorrows when suffering unjustly. For what good report is there if, when you sin and are buffeted, you endure it with patience? But if you do what is right and suffer for it you patiently endure, this [is] grace face to face with God.


1Pe 2:21 For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example [hupogrammos = letters for tracing] for you to follow in His steps,


1Pe 2:22 who committed no sin, nor was any deceit [craftiness of trickery] found in His mouth;


1Pe 2:23 and while being reviled [extremely harsh rebuke], He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting [handing over to the Father the care of His life] Himself to Him who judges righteously;


1Pe 2:24 and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed.


Thus we have the portrait of the suffering Servant of Jehovah, His blessed face so pummeled by the hard fists of the mob that it did not look like a human face anymore, His back lacerated by the Roman scourge so that it was one mass of open, raw, quivering flesh trickling with blood, His heart torn with anguish because of the bitter, caustic, malevolent words hurled at Him. On that bleeding, lacerated back was laid the Cross. Yet up to that point He had not yet healed anyone. However, by not reviling in return, by not returning insult, and by operating in love towards His accusers and henchmen, He arrived on Calvary without sin and so was prepared as our efficacious sacrifice. It wasn't a physical matter but a judicial matter. Sin had to be paid for in the law court of the heavenly Father. On that cross He was separated from His Father in spiritual death and bore all sin in His body. This was all for you, just as if you were the only lost person in the universe.


And so our healing is judicial as well. The Father's justice was satisfied by Christ, meaning that anyone who believes in Him is justified. The example of His enduring the physical suffering on the way to Calvary was a demonstration of power and the love of God for the evil people around Him. He kept Himself pure in love so that in a short time He would be qualified to die for their very sins they were committing against Him. This display of love we are now qualified to do and we know, as we do so, that we are fully healed.


Unfortunately, by this passage, some have taught that the literal blood of Christ can heal physical ailments. There is a stupid interpretation for every important verse in the Bible.


1Pe 2:25 For you were continually straying like sheep, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Guardian of your souls.


We have the all-seeing eye of our loving God always upon us, watching tenderly over us in order that He may nurture our spiritual growth and keep us from falling into temptations which the world, the flesh, and Satan are ever placing before us. It is for us to be ever mindful of God's loving care over us and of the responsibility we have to obey His Word.


Num 20:12 But the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, "Because you have not believed Me, to treat Me as holy in the sight of the sons of Israel, therefore you shall not bring this assembly into the land which I have given them."


In this instance, Moses put his faith in the people, and in doing that he concluded that God would not allow them to enter and he despaired and reacted in anger.


Now for the first time Moses failed as a mediator through unbelief, looking at the sin of the people, and thence inferring the impossibility of their inheriting the promises. Instead of looking at the grace and power of God which made all things possible, and at the certainty of the promise, he put his eyes on the people. We all fail, but not all of us have been called to such a high position.  


In contrast, Abraham near the end of his life did not stagger at the promise that "In Isaac your descendents shall be called."


Heb 11:17

By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac; and he who had received the promises was offering up his only begotten son;


This is similar to Moses who was assured by God that He would lead them into the PL to possess it.


And having through unbelief failed as mediator of the people, his office was to cease, and the conduct of Israel into the land to devolve upon another.


It has been commonly stated in theological circles that the sin of Moses was official rather than personal, but how does one separate the office or work of a person and the person himself? Statements like these are made by those who are sympathetic to Moses. We all are sympathetic, but sinning in the office is a personal failure. Moses can no longer operate as a mediator between God and His people.


Stated simply, Moses and Aaron are aged pilgrims, worn out with the long journey through the wilderness, and footsore from the roughness of the terrain, and whose minds are threadbare from dealing with a people who complain at almost every opportunity, and have blamed them for their bad circumstances. Their strength momentarily failed when the weary journey was once more to resume and the people grumbled yet again. In their weariness turning to anger they stumbled at the rock of offence.


Yet leadership of the caliber of Moses and Aaron was not allowed by God to continue though we might have every sympathy for their behavior. The journey is not over, the fighting is about to begin, and the land of Zion, the land of the Messiah, of redemption and salvation, cannot be represented by leadership who had not belief that God could actually pull it off with these people. It's not about sinlessness but about faith in God's promise. The leaders are mediators between the people and God. As such they cannot represent God to the people as being unfaithful, whether the people believe God to be unfaithful or not is on them, and God will still take them in, but not a mediator who misrepresents the character of God.


It is without question that we have sympathy for Moses. Like Elijah his great office was withdrawn and given to another.


Before leaving Kadesh, Moses sent messengers to the king of Edom, and also to the king of Moab, whose dominions lay on the north of Edom, asking permission for Israel to pass through their countries.



A glance at the map will show that this would have been the most direct route, if Palestine was to be entered from the other side of the Jordan at Jericho. Certainly it was the easiest route along the King's Highway, which is the ordinary caravan route. It avoided contact with those who held the Negeb, or south country, who thirty-eight years before had met Israel in hostile con­flict and signally defeated them.


The messengers urged Edom with claims of national kinship, by reminding them of Israel's past sufferings in Egypt, and their marvelous deliverance by the Angel of Jehovah. They urged Edom by conceding that they would not stray off the King's highway and that they would not use their wells, and if in necessity they did, they would recompense Edom for the water. Edom, the children of Esau, absolutely refused and then hastily gathered an army on their borders.


Every believer has to deal with disappointment. We often have hope in a way that doesn't turn out to be the way.


God was with them, of course God would take them the easiest way, or so they thought. Yet God knows what we need much more than we do and what we need is His good pleasure.


Does He love you or doesn't He? How was His love revealed to you? What is the agape love of God and what does it depend upon?


Rom 5:5

and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.


1Pe 1:25

For this is contained in Scripture:

"Behold I lay in Zion a choice stone, a precious corner stone,

And he who believes in Him shall not be disappointed."


1Pe 3:16

and keep a good conscience so that in the thing in which you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame [disappointed].


Psa 44:3

For by their own sword they did not possess the land;

And their own arm did not save them;

But Thy right hand, and Thine arm, and the light of Thy presence,

For Thou didst favor them [delight in them].



While these messengers were pleading in Edom, Moses and the camp of Israel had moved forward to the uttermost border of Edom - a day's journey eastward from Kadesh where stands an isolated and prominent mountain, Mt. Hor, meaning remarkable mountain. Here they halted and awaited the report from the messengers. It was then that God pronounced the sentence on Aaron.


Num 20:22 Now when they set out from Kadesh, the sons of Israel, the whole congregation, came to Mount Hor.


Num 20:23 Then the Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron at Mount Hor by the border of the land of Edom, saying,


Num 20:24 "Aaron shall be gathered to his people; for he shall not enter the land which I have given to the sons of Israel, because you rebelled against My command at the waters of Meribah.


Num 20:25 Take Aaron and his son Eleazar, and bring them up to Mount Hor;


Num 20:26 and strip Aaron of his garments and put them on his son Eleazar. So Aaron will be gathered to his people, and will die there."


From Mt. Hor there are various wadies or roads which open east, south, and south-west, as well as north through Edom.


If, according to the Divine command, Edom was not to be attacked, then Israel must rapidly retreat and retrace their steps southward.


On the way there is another king, a Canaanite, who resides is the Negev who certainly heard of Edom's rejection and who likely feared that Israel might attack him and so he attacked them.


Num 21:1 When the Canaanite, the king of Arad, who lived in the Negev, heard that Israel was coming by the way of Atharim, then he fought against Israel, and took some of them captive.


You have to image an enormous caravan of people spread out for several miles. Estimations of their numbers is between one and two million. Arad might have attacked the middle or more likely the rear and took some of them prisoner.


Num 21:2 So Israel made a vow to the Lord, and said, "If Thou wilt indeed deliver this people into my hand, then I will utterly destroy their cities."


Num 21:3 And the Lord heard the voice of Israel, and delivered up the Canaanites; then they utterly destroyed them and their cities. Thus the name of the place was called Hormah.


The place of destruction would refer to where the Canaanites of Arad were defeated in the southern Negev, but this is a prophetic faithfulness of God.


The complete fulfillment of this promise, to destroy their cities would come later, after they entered. This particular city, Hormah, wouldn't be destroyed until after the death of Joshua.


Jdg 1:17

Then Judah went with Simeon his brother, and they struck the Canaanites living in Zephath, and utterly destroyed it. So the name of the city was called Hormah.


God gives the victory through His word before the actual victory. One could say that being prepared in faith is the victory already, before the actual development.


Our preparation for victory could be considered a prophetic faithfulness of God.

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