Deuteronomy 2-3, “History Lessons Continued”

Posted: July 31, 2008 in Deuteronomy


We’re in the great book of Deuteronomy – a 2nd telling of the Law Moses gives in a series of addresses as the Hebrews prepare to enter into the Promised Land after their long journey. Deut follows the basic format of a covenantal treaty between a king & his people, and we’re still basically in the prologue where the history between the parties is being reviewed.

Ch 1 took the Hebrews from Egypt to their rebellion at Kadesh Barnea, when after seeing multiple examples of the miraculous power and provision of God [], they saw the opposition (instead of relying on God’s promises), feared for their own tails & ran away from what God offered to give them on a platter.

So that’s it, right? No – Israel spent roughly 38 years wandering in the wilderness (long enough for an entire generation to die out in discipline), and once they were ready to go, God takes them for a kind of ‘trial run’ as they encounter various nations on the east side of the Jordan. How they reacted is the remainder of the history Moses is going to take them through before he gets to the law.

Deuteronomy 2 (NKJV)
1 “Then we turned and journeyed into the wilderness of the Way of the Red Sea, as the Lord spoke to me, and we skirted Mount Seir for many days. 2 “And the Lord spoke to me, saying: 3 ‘You have skirted this mountain long enough; turn northward. 4 And command the people, saying, “You are about to pass through the territory of your brethren, the descendants of Esau, who live in Seir; and they will be afraid of you. Therefore watch yourselves carefully. 5 Do not meddle with them, for I will not give you any of their land, no, not so much as one footstep, because I have given Mount Seir to Esau as a possession. 6 You shall buy food from them with money, that you may eat; and you shall also buy water from them with money, that you may drink.

A. Why not attack Esau? 2 reasons:

a. They’re family – Esau & Jacob (Israel) were brothers. Feuded much in their day (due to Esau’s complacency towards his birthright & Jacob’s conniving to get it), but supposedly reconciled in Gen 33 after Jacob had been humbled by Laban (his father-in-law). They seem to have met again only once after that (death of Isaac), and apparently Esau’s children nursed the grudge.

i. As we’ve been forgiven (much!), may we always be quick to forgive & not let grudges get established. (root of bitterness – Heb 12:15)

b. God gave them THEIR land just as God is giving Israel its own land. We don’t know that God made a covenantal agreement with Edom, but it was still His gift to them, and Israel had no right to take what wasn’t theirs.

i. Israel wasn’t going to Canaan to build an empire; they were gaining an inheritance. Likewise, some in Christendom believe it’s their right to declare dominion over all the earth; they miss the fact that we’ve been given an inheritance…we simply receive what God graciously gives us. We don’t have to take anything by force…

7 “For the Lord your God has blessed you in all the work of your hand. He knows your trudging through this great wilderness. These forty years the Lord your God has been with you; you have lacked nothing.” ’

A. God is faithful! He’s going to provide for the Hebrews exactly what He thinks they need…thus they don’t need to go coveting after everyone else’s land.

B. It comes down to a matter of trust. God has always been faithful to provide for us in the past; why do we doubt Him for the present? [Joshua & memorial stones] Joshua 4:6-7 (6) that this may be a sign among you when your children ask in time to come, saying, ‘What do these stones mean to you?’ (7) Then you shall answer them that the waters of the Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord; when it crossed over the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. And these stones shall be for a memorial to the children of Israel forever.” []

i. We can ALWAYS trust the Lord! Want your own memorial stone? Look to your salvation…what more do we need? []

8 “And when we passed beyond our brethren, the descendants of Esau who dwell in Seir, away from the road of the plain, away from Elath and Ezion Geber, we turned and passed by way of the Wilderness of Moab. 9 Then the Lord said to me, ‘Do not harass Moab, nor contend with them in battle, for I will not give you any of their land as a possession, because I have given Ar to the descendants of Lot as a possession.’ ”

A. MAP – Exodus

B. Moab had the same exemption as Esau…they were family. Descendants of Lot through his eldest daughter. (Ewww factor…)

C. Makes it all the more sad that the Moabites hired Balaam to try to curse Israel…

10 (The Emim had dwelt there in times past, a people as great and numerous and tall as the Anakim. 11 They were also regarded as giants, like the Anakim, but the Moabites call them Emim. 12 The Horites formerly dwelt in Seir, but the descendants of Esau dispossessed them and destroyed them from before them, and dwelt in their place, just as Israel did to the land of their possession which the Lord gave them.)

A. Possible this was an editorial insert by Joshua (note past tense in vs. 12) – still would be considered inspired Scripture.

13 “ ‘Now rise and cross over the Valley of the Zered.’ So we crossed over the Valley of the Zered. 14 And the time we took to come from Kadesh Barnea until we crossed over the Valley of the Zered was thirty-eight years, until all the generation of the men of war was consumed from the midst of the camp, just as the Lord had sworn to them. 15 For indeed the hand of the Lord was against them, to destroy them from the midst of the camp until they were consumed.

A. Reiteration of the judgment from the rebellion…every single person over the age of 19 died in the wilderness. Imagine 38 years of circling in the desert, knowing that whatever you did, you were just waiting to die.

a. Many people are in that same boat! They’ve heard the gospel, but refuse to trust Christ & simply wait out their days. What a sad existence – what unnecessary grief. God has so much more for us than that; He desires the whole world to come to repentance and faith in Christ!

B. God was “against” them?!?! Wow. If there’s one place we don’t want to be, it’s on the side of receiving God’s judgment. He is an all-consuming fire (Heb 12:29) & God’s wrath will be revealed against all ungodliness & unrighteousness (Rom 1:18).

a. Thanks be to God that the wrath we deserved was poured out on Jesus at the Cross!

16 “So it was, when all the men of war had finally perished from among the people, 17 that the Lord spoke to me, saying: 18 ‘This day you are to cross over at Ar, the boundary of Moab. 19 And when you come near the people of Ammon, do not harass them or meddle with them, for I will not give you any of the land of the people of Ammon as a possession, because I have given it to the descendants of Lot as a possession.’ ”

A. Same thing as Moab. Ben-Ammi was the brother of Moab (of Lot’s younger daughter), thus the Ammonites were protected by right of relation to Israel.

20 (That was also regarded as a land of giants; giants formerly dwelt there. But the Ammonites call them Zamzummim, 21 a people as great and numerous and tall as the Anakim. But the Lord destroyed them before them, and they dispossessed them and dwelt in their place, 22 just as He had done for the descendants of Esau, who dwelt in Seir, when He destroyed the Horites from before them. They dispossessed them and dwelt in their place, even to this day. 23 And the Avim, who dwelt in villages as far as Gaza— the Caphtorim, who came from Caphtor, destroyed them and dwelt in their place.)

A. Again, the same thing as Moab…previously giants dwelt in the land, and Ammon came in & drove them out.

B. Anyone note the irony here? Both Moab and Ammon drive out the giants in their respective lands because God had given them the land…and they don’t actually SERVE the Living God. Yet Israel – who saw the daily miraculous provision of God was too afraid of the giants to actually enter their land…

24 “ ‘Rise, take your journey, and cross over the River Arnon. Look, I have given into your hand Sihon the Amorite, king of Heshbon, and his land. Begin to possess it, and engage him in battle. 25 This day I will begin to put the dread and fear of you upon the nations under the whole heaven, who shall hear the report of you, and shall tremble and be in anguish because of you.’

A. Note that for 400 years Israel had the promise of inheritance – but never actually had anything. The promise was just that: a promise. To possess it, they actually had to move in obedience to the Lord. [] Likewise, we have been saved (praise God!) from the penalty of sin, and we’ve been promised the victory over the power of sin. But we’ve got to be willing to actually follow the Lord Jesus in it. (We can’t blame Christ for failing to deliver us from alcoholism if we’ve got a trip to the liquor store permanently put in rotation on our schedule.)

a. Does that mean Christians never fall? Paul knew it well! Romans 7:15 For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do. [] But however often Paul fell into sin, he didn’t dwell in sin…it wasn’t an activity that he looked forward to in order that he might seek forgiveness afterwards (Rom 6:15).

b. So what’s the difference? Christians aren’t under condemnation when we fall (Rom 8:1) – but rather when we fall in our flesh we also fall upon the gospel of grace!

26 “And I sent messengers from the Wilderness of Kedemoth to Sihon king of Heshbon, with words of peace, saying, 27 ‘Let me pass through your land; I will keep strictly to the road, and I will turn neither to the right nor to the left. 28 You shall sell me food for money, that I may eat, and give me water for money, that I may drink; only let me pass through on foot, 29 just as the descendants of Esau who dwell in Seir and the Moabites who dwell in Ar did for me, until I cross the Jordan to the land which the Lord our God is giving us.’

A. (MAP – Exodus) Moses had been promised victory; but he still wanted to be diplomatic. Amen! They were promised the victory, but still sought to be gracious.

30 “But Sihon king of Heshbon would not let us pass through, for the Lord your God hardened his spirit and made his heart obstinate, that He might deliver him into your hand, as it is this day.

A. Like Pharaoh, God hardened Sihon’s heart. [] Walvoord notes that the Hebrew seems to indicate the Lord confirmed the hardness that was already there and allowed him to suffer the consequences of his sin.

31 “And the Lord said to me, ‘See, I have begun to give Sihon and his land over to you. Begin to possess it, that you may inherit his land.’ 32 Then Sihon and all his people came out against us to fight at Jahaz. 33 And the Lord our God delivered him over to us; so we defeated him, his sons, and all his people. 34 We took all his cities at that time, and we utterly destroyed the men, women, and little ones of every city; we left none remaining. 35 We took only the livestock as plunder for ourselves, with the spoil of the cities which we took.

A. Victory as promised…

36 From Aroer, which is on the bank of the River Arnon, and from the city that is in the ravine, as far as Gilead, there was not one city too strong for us; the Lord our God delivered all to us. 37 Only you did not go near the land of the people of Ammon—anywhere along the River Jabbok, or to the cities of the mountains, or wherever the Lord our God had forbidden us.

A. Great precedent! As long as Israel obeyed the Lord, they experienced victory…when they disobey the Lord, they’ll experience defeat.

a. Why are we so surprised when things work out the way God says they’re going to work? You’d think He was omniscient or something. J He IS! And He always knows best…

Deuteronomy 3 (NKJV)
1 “Then we turned and went up the road to Bashan; and Og king of Bashan came out against us, he and all his people, to battle at Edrei. 2 And the Lord said to me, ‘Do not fear him, for I have delivered him and all his people and his land into your hand; you shall do to him as you did to Sihon king of the Amorites, who dwelt at Heshbon.’

A. Don’t fear! Why? Because God has “delivered him… Note the past tense – this is a foregone conclusion! Because God is in charge of the victory, the victory is assured.

a. Same with us – God’s victory over Satan is assured! The end of the book has already been written…

B. How could they know this? Past experience…He had already given them Sihon, so there was no reason to doubt He could give them Og. (back to the memorial stones…)

3 “So the Lord our God also delivered into our hands Og king of Bashan, with all his people, and we attacked him until he had no survivors remaining. 4 And we took all his cities at that time; there was not a city which we did not take from them: sixty cities, all the region of Argob, the kingdom of Og in Bashan. 5 All these cities were fortified with high walls, gates, and bars, besides a great many rural towns. 6 And we utterly destroyed them, as we did to Sihon king of Heshbon, utterly destroying the men, women, and children of every city. 7 But all the livestock and the spoil of the cities we took as booty for ourselves.

A. ‘No survivors?! Were the Hebrews an incredibly cruel genocidal people?’ No. The Hebrews were God’s instrument to deliver His justice to a group of peoples who had filled up the measure of their wrath for over 400 years. They sacrificed their children in horrific ways – they were cruel people who engaged in ritualistic pagan prostitution. God shows His righteousness in delivering His justice AND God shows His love in mercifully cutting out the cancer from spreading elsewhere.

a. Some times the Bible will present things that are tough for us to understand. Whenever we come across something we DON’T understand about God, we need to fall back on what we DO know about God. What do we know about God? Exodus 34:6-7 (6) And the Lord passed before him and proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth, (7) keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children and the children’s children to the third and the fourth generation.” [] All this perfectly revealed in Christ Jesus!

B. Took the spoil here…this wasn’t to be an assumed pattern, as Achan would find out regarding Jericho. (Josh 8)

8 “And at that time we took the land from the hand of the two kings of the Amorites who were on this side of the Jordan, from the River Arnon to Mount Hermon 9 (the Sidonians call Hermon Sirion, and the Amorites call it Senir), 10 all the cities of the plain, all Gilead, and all Bashan, as far as Salcah and Edrei, cities of the kingdom of Og in Bashan.

A. MAP (Israel)

11 “For only Og king of Bashan remained of the remnant of the giants. Indeed his bedstead was an iron bedstead. (Is it not in Rabbah of the people of Ammon?) Nine cubits is its length and four cubits its width, according to the standard cubit.

A. Big bed…and a big coffin! 13½ feet long & 6 feet wide. This giant was no match for the Living God. Neither was Goliath… Neither is Satan!

12 “And this land, which we possessed at that time, from Aroer, which is by the River Arnon, and half the mountains of Gilead and its cities, I gave to the Reubenites and the Gadites. 13 The rest of Gilead, and all Bashan, the kingdom of Og, I gave to half the tribe of Manasseh. (All the region of Argob, with all Bashan, was called the land of the giants. 14 Jair the son of Manasseh took all the region of Argob, as far as the border of the Geshurites and the Maachathites, and called Bashan after his own name, Havoth Jair, to this day.) 15 “Also I gave Gilead to Machir. 16 And to the Reubenites and the Gadites I gave from Gilead as far as the River Arnon, the middle of the river as the border, as far as the River Jabbok, the border of the people of Ammon; 17 the plain also, with the Jordan as the border, from Chinnereth as far as the east side of the Sea of the Arabah (the Salt Sea), below the slopes of Pisgah.

A. MAP (Israel)

B. Review of stopping short of the promised land… []

a. Was no one among the Hebrews to occupy the newly conquered land from Og & Sihon? Sure – but it wasn’t supposed to be ALL that they occupied. God had so much more for them! (Unger) “What they received was good, but what they refused to receive was better. Many believers appropriate the truth of justification by faith (Rom 3-4), but they never recognize their position in Christ (Rom 6:1-10) and claim the power of it (Rom 6:11).” (i.e. dead to sin, alive to God in Christ)

18 “Then I commanded you at that time, saying: ‘The Lord your God has given you this land to possess. All you men of valor shall cross over armed before your brethren, the children of Israel. 19 But your wives, your little ones, and your livestock (I know that you have much livestock) shall stay in your cities which I have given you, 20 until the Lord has given rest to your brethren as to you, and they also possess the land which the Lord your God is giving them beyond the Jordan. Then each of you may return to his possession which I have given you.’

A. Summary of the compromise. The women & children could stay, but the men of age would need to cross over and fight.

B. Reuben, Gad, and ½ Manasseh may have dwelt beyond the Jordan (to their detriment), but they needed to participate in the battle with their brethren. It’s a good reminder that we’re ALL in the Body of Christ. What affects one of us affects all of us. Thus we rejoice with those who rejoice & weep with those who weep (Rom 12:15).

21 “And I commanded Joshua at that time, saying, ‘Your eyes have seen all that the Lord your God has done to these two kings; so will the Lord do to all the kingdoms through which you pass. 22 You must not fear them, for the Lord your God Himself fights for you.’

A. Reminder #1: don’t fear! [] Why? Because God Himself fights for them…you can’t ask for anything/anyone more powerful!

a. If God is for us, who can possibly be against us? … Satan and all His minions of Hell may rise up in a unified battle against us & the world may seem like it’s crashing down around us, but we are still protected by the hand of God & NOTHING can overpower Him! [Job…]

B. Reminder #2: remember experience… God has a perfect track record…

23 “Then I pleaded with the Lord at that time, saying: 24 ‘O Lord God, You have begun to show Your servant Your greatness and Your mighty hand, for what god is there in heaven or on earth who can do anything like Your works and Your mighty deeds? 25 I pray, let me cross over and see the good land beyond the Jordan, those pleasant mountains, and Lebanon.’

A. Moses is basically begging God to let him cross over…

B. Moses may have been disciplined by the Lord, but note the immensity of his faith! He had seen the vast miracles of God […], and still he proclaimed, “God, You have just gotten started – I haven’t seen anything yet!”

a. We have been born again, justified, …. [], and Jesus has just gotten started. We haven’t seen anything yet!!

26 “But the Lord was angry with me on your account, and would not listen to me. So the Lord said to me: ‘Enough of that! Speak no more to Me of this matter. 27 Go up to the top of Pisgah, and lift your eyes toward the west, the north, the south, and the east; behold it with your eyes, for you shall not cross over this Jordan.

A. Is Moses blaming the people? A bit. Is it deserved? Sure. But as we saw in Ch 1, Moses still bears personal responsibility.

B. Can we get to a point where God actually asks us to stop praying about something? Apparently Moses did. We have the glorious privilege of coming boldly before our Abba Father in prayer, but sometimes a “no” from the Lord is going to remain a “no.” We need be both honest in our prayers, and willing to submit to God’s perfect will…whatever that may be. [Jesus in the Garden…]

C. Note God’s mercy here! Moses deserved his discipline; but he certainly didn’t deserve to see the promised land – and that’s exactly what God showed him… (PIC – Mt Nebo…Pisgah is a particular peak on the mountain)

28 But command Joshua, and encourage him and strengthen him; for he shall go over before this people, and he shall cause them to inherit the land which you will see.’ 29 “So we stayed in the valley opposite Beth Peor.

A. Instead of having Moses enter the land, God tells Moses to start transitioning leadership to Joshua. (Great model for anyone “passing the torch” – command/charge, encourage, and strengthen/equip them…)

B. Why? Because Joshua is the one who will cause the people to inherit the land.

a. Perfect picture of what Jesus (Yeshua) does with us. We cannot enter into the rest of the Lord by our own efforts. We cannot enter into victory over sin through our own vain attempts to follow the law. But Jesus can!


With that, Moses brings the whole nation of Israel up-to-date in their history, in preparation for reviewing the law prior to the conquest. Overwhelmingly, Moses keeps presenting one lesson over & over: TRUST GOD. An entire generation of Hebrews lost out on God’s blessing and promise simply because they did not trust God to be the same yesterday, today, and forever. He had ALWAYS provided for them, and would continue to ALWAYS provide for them.

How many blessings have we missed out on simply because we didn’t trust the Lord? He is so good to us and has promised us so incredibly much through the Scriptures – yet often we ignore the memorial stones God has provided for us, and end up failing in our flesh yet again. May God help us not rely on our flesh, but continually run to the grace of Christ Jesus & the true rest we find in Him.

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