"We see, in many a land, the proudest dynasties and tyrannies still crushing, with their mountain weight, every free motion of the Consciences and hearts of men. We see, on the other hand, the truest heroism for the right and the greatest devotion to the Truth in hearts that God has touched. We have a work to do, as great as our forefathers and, perhaps, far greater. The enemies of Truth are more numerous and subtle than ever and the needs of the Church are greater than at any preceding time. If we are not debtors to the present, then men were never debtors to their age and their time. Brethren, we are debtors to the hour in which we live. Oh, that we might stamp it with Truth and that God might help us to impress upon its wings some proof that it has not flown by neglected and unheeded." -- C.H. Spurgeon . . . "If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." John 8:31, 32 . . . . .

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Tuesday, November 29, 2022

DEUTERONOMY: A REHEARSAL ON HOLINESS, A CALL TO FAITHFULNESS – Chapter 2 & 3

Contributing commentaries by pastors Sonny Islas, Albert Lopez, and James Fire

DEUTERONOMY 2: “REMEMBERING GOD’S GOOD HAND IN YOUR LIFE” by Sonny Islas, check out the complete teaching here!

INTRODUCTION: As a way of reminder: Deuteronomy means “Double Law” or “The Law repeated.” At this point in the journey, Israel is at the finish line of the 40 years of wilderness wanderings and is at the starting line of the Promised Land. They are at the door, at the very borders of Canaan/aka Israel, across from Jericho, but, before they go in, Moses has a big brotherly talk with them.

He repeats the laws, and the wondrous works, and ways of God to this new generation because the older generation was killed off by God in the wilderness (except for Joshua and Caleb) for their rebellious, unbelieving, constant complaining, ungrateful, stiff necked attitudes towards God’s goodness.

DEUTERONOMY 2:1-8
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. 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."' 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
.

MOUNT SEIR is a mountainous region located in Southwest Jordan and in Southeast Judah/Israel. The land of Seir is where Esau, Jacob’s twin brother lived (GEN 32:3; DEUT 2:4, 8, 22, 29). Speaking of Esau’s descendants, King Herod the Great was the most popular Edomite or ‘Esauite’ in the New Testament. He was the wicked King who tried to kill baby Jesus and had many other newborns and toddlers massacred during the hunt down.

Esau and Jacob were Isaac’s sons and Esau was the one who sold his birthright to Jacob for a bowl of lentil soup (GEN 25:34). Esau’s nickname was Edom (GEN 36:19), which means – Red. GEN 25:25 says that he came out with red hair all over. He may have eventually looked like Yosemite Sam from the Looney Tunes. With a big red mustache just about dragging on the floor and big red eyebrows. Who knows?

This mountainous region of Seir seems to have gotten its name from an ancient ruler who controlled this territory before Esau’s descendants took over it – he’s mentioned in GEN 36:20 as “Seir the Horite”).

Now it must have been a drag to walk along the same mountain range “for many days.” They were probably bogged down by the same old scenery. Verse 7a describes much of their journey by saying “He (God) knows your trudging through this great wilderness…”

The word trudging means: To walk slowly and with heavy steps, typically because of exhaustion or harsh conditions. Again, Imagine having to do this “for many days?’’ What a bummer!

But verse 7a has words that can cause a sense of relief, where it says “He knows…” Which means that God is both aware and He cares. God sees us trudging along in this wilderness called the world – and He’s concerned for our well-being and is with us every step of the way.

I think that this is one of the reasons God had Israel enjoy a quick pit stop in the Edomite’s territory (The Land of Seir) to buy food and water. It’s like taking your kids to California and after a few hours of driving, being cramped up and bored, you stop at Quick Trip, Circle K or a Chevron to stretch and buy some more beef Jerky and cold Cokes. What a relief!

By the way, the Israelites having to now buy food and drink may point to God pulling back on babying them as He did in the wilderness, where He provided everything miraculously. Now, they are going to have to use their money for provisions (But even then, God is the One who provided for them and for us with work and pay).

Going back to verse 3 for a moment, God tells Israel, “You have been skirting this mountain long enough; turn northward.”

In the spiritual sense, the LORD may be telling some of us this evening, 3 “You have been skirting (or circling) this mountain (or in the spiritual sense, this mountain can be a problem or obstacle) long enough; turn northward.’’

Translation:
“You’ve been stuck in this spiritual rut long enough; It’s time to look up and get out.”
“You’ve been going in circles for many days, it’s time to move forward and make some progress by turning wholeheartedly unto Me.”

In verse 4, regarding the land of Seir, God tells Israel “Esau’s descendants will be afraid of you. Therefore watch yourselves carefully.” God is basically telling Israel not to take advantage of their fear towards them; to not come off as bullies. They were not to forcefully TAKE anything from them but instead to show them kindness by purchasing the things they needed – like food and water.

Here’s a quote from Guzik on this verse:
“How we treat those weaker than ourselves is always a good measure of character. When we have the capability to dominate or abuse others and do not, it shows that we have good character. For some of these reasons, God commanded Israel to treat the weaker nation of Edom well.”
In verse 5, God tells them not to “meddle with them.” In other words, Israel was to mind their own business because this land was already given to Esau’s descendants and Israel was not to get even one sq. foot of it. They were not to interfere, intrude, invade, gossip, or make them feel uncomfortable in any way shape or form. They were to find some rest and refreshment then get out.

7 “For the LORD your God has blessed you in all the work of your hand.” It was as though God said “look, don't bother them in any way because you are blessed. I have blessed you.” Israel had no need to covet their land and stuff because they were already blessed and were going to be blessed even more in God’s time here soon.

Listen, the next time you’re tempted to complain, or to take advantage of another or you’re tempted to covet another person’s . . . whatever, just sit back and count YOUR blessing and I bet that they will be as numerous as the stars in the night sky.

It was as if God said to Israel, “don’t make a scene here at all, conduct yourselves as the blessed people of God.” Act in a way that says, ‘’MY GOD IS GOOD AND HE SUPPLIES ALL MY NEEDS!”

Verse 7b is the reason I titled my message “Remembering God’s good hand in your life.” It says, “These forty years the LORD your God has been with you; you have lacked nothing.” The same goes for us! God has been with us, and God has supplied our every need. 
Not our every greed, but our every need. 
He has provided us both physical food and drink and spiritual food and drink to the full!

During the wilderness wanderings, we remember that God provided bread from heaven, water from a rock, quail galore; He rescued them from Egypt, provided defense from their enemies, He sustained their clothing, so that their sandals would not wear out. God’s good hand was with them every step of the way and His good hand is with you too.

Think about all the times the LORD has provided for you, starting with salvation through His Son. These blessed reminders cause us to confide in the LORD more and to be grateful for all that God gives us.

Remembering God’s good hand, both, His leading, His feeding, His comforting, and His protecting hand, throughout the years serves as a way to make us bold and sure of God’s sovereignty. It makes us grateful to the LORD in all things and in every situation. Whether in desert times or paradise times – God has been with us through it all – right?

~ ~ ~ ~ ~      ~ ~ ~ ~ ~      ~ ~ ~ ~ ~      ~ ~ ~ ~ ~      ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ 

DEUTERONOMY 3: “NO CHALLENGE IS TOO BIG FOR GOD” by James Fire, check out the complete teaching here!

INTRODUCTION: Unlike GENESIS, EXODUS, and NUMBERS the books of LEVITICUS and DEUTERONOMY, in all of their chapters, don’t have a historical progression through time. LEVITICUS and DEUTERONOMY happen within the very brief time period in which they were written by Moses.

As I read through this fifth book of Moses, I can summarize it’s theme by calling this last addition to the Torah, “A REHEARSAL ON RIGHTEOUSNESS, and A CALL TO FAITHFULNESS.

This book of DEUTERONOMY can be seen as three distinct sermons given by Moses to the next generation of Israel (you remember that the first generation, with the exception of Joshua and Caleb all perished because of their lack of faith in their faithful GOD of truth and grace).

The first sermon is from Ch 1 to Ch. 4.
The second sermon: from Ch. 4 to Ch. 26.
The third and final sermon: Ch. 27 to Ch. 34.

Immediately after these three sermons the LORD, through Moses gives a solemn charge to Joshua and to the nation at large:

The book of the Law given: Ch’s. 22-30.
The charge to Israel: Ch. 31:14-21.
The Song of Moses: Ch. 32:1-47.
The death of Moses: Ch. 32:48 to Ch. 34:12.

DEUTERONOMY 3:1-6
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.' 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
.

We can read about Israel’s conquests over the kingdoms of Heshbon and of Bashan (located on the east side of Jordan) in NUMBERS 21 and we see how the tribes of Gad, Reuben and the half tribe of Manasseh inherited the land that was once Bashan and Sihon. In DEUTERONOMY 31 GOD reassured the children of Israel that just as He gave them victory over the kings Og and Sihon, so He would bring them victory over all the various kingdoms of Canaan that would become the kingdom of Israel.

King Og of Bashan held what was the last refuge of the giants that populated Canaan land, king Og himself being a giant (found here in vs. 13). According to DEUT 3:11, this giant’s bed was over thirteen feet long and six feet wide!

So when the ten of the twelve spies came back with their pessimistic, fearful report in:

NUMBERS 13:32-33
32 And they gave the children of Israel a bad report of the land which they had spied out, saying, "The land through which we have gone as spies is a land that devours its inhabitants, and all the people whom we saw in it are men of great stature. 33 "There we saw the giants (the descendants of Anak came from the giants); and we were like grasshoppers in our own sight, and so we were in their sight."


– they weren’t exaggerating!

The reputation of Israel’s military successes had gone ahead, so that by the time the Hebrews got to Jericho, they already were aware of how the GOD of Israel defeated the then super power of Egypt, and how they recently defeated Heshbon and Sihon (JOSH 2). The Psalmists talk about the defeat of these kings in PSALM 135 and 136.

DEUTERONOMY 3:7-11
7 "But all the livestock and the spoil of the cities we took as booty for ourselves. 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. 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.


The livestock of these Canaanite tribes, Israel kept for themselves, but as for the Canaanites themselves: Israel killed them all, men, women, and children.

GOD destroyed all the world with a flood because the wickedness of man was rampant throughout the human race, but on top of that, Satan was busy polluting the human race by interbreeding his fallen angels with human females.
His objective: If he could pollute the entire human race, then the Messiah couldn’t be born into such corruption.

These tribes of giants found in Canaan land these several hundred years later had the same origin: fallen angels cohabitating with human females, but instead of a flood, GOD pronounced His judgment upon them through Israel, who the LORD commanded to kill all of them – men, women, and children; but GOD declared that this judgment was coming way back in the days of Abraham (GEN 15:16).

DEUTERONOMY 3:12-17
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 giants14 "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 Dead Sea as the southern border, east of the Jordan River), below the slopes of Pisgah.



We’re unfamiliar with territories such as Aroer and Aron and Argob, but let’s put this in geographical terms we are familiar with. Essentially, all the territory granted to Israel, east of the Jordan River is what’s being described here, specifically the tribes of Reuben, Gad and half tribe of Manasseh. The lake Galilee (it’s called a sea but it’s a fresh body of water) is the northern border, and east of the Jordan River. The Dead Sea these territories, click here 

DEUTERONOMY 3:18-20
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.'


Now try to imagine yourself as one of these Hebrew soldiers at the time when they were to cross over, with your weapons strapped on, ready to take on the inhabitants of the land. You heard from the ten faithless spies who gave “the evil report” concerning these inhabitants and their cities. You heard how the spies felt like grasshoppers in the sight of these bizarre Canaanites and how the walls of their cities “reached unto the heavens”.

But surely, they must have been exaggerating, you tell yourself. These so-called giants can’t really be as tall as these spies claimed. Now you’re marching into the land, and you’re about to find out for yourself just how much, or rather, how little of an exaggeration these spies were guilty of.

Then you catch sight of these Canaanites; you’re seeing these giants for the first time; and you understand that these spies weren’t exaggerating by much at all. The King of Bashan, Og had a bed over thirteen feet long, and even if you consider he probably had leg room and head room of one foot each, that would still put him at over eleven feet tall (that would be two of me, one standing on the other!).

These Hebrews were accustomed to fighting Canaanites, but nothing like this.

Consider your own life; you’ve faced trials before, and with the LORD you were able to overcome, obtain the victory, and march onward to the next battle. But every once in a while, you get confronted with a giant of a problem – something you’ve never faced before.

Your mouth goes dry, your hands get wet, your heart starts beating faster, and maybe you get a little wobbly in the knees. But by the grace of GOD, as you express faith in the Almighty, He not only gets you through that giant trial, but does so by great victory, making you stronger in the faith in the process!

I believe the church here in modern day America is about to face some giants as we’ve never experienced before. A dramatic rise in occult activities, an oppression, even a denial of Constitutional, GOD-given rights; outright persecution, monetary fines, and perhaps even prison time.

But like David, when faced with insurmountable odds as he faced off a son of Anak, Goliath the giant (who stood at about nine feet tall), we can declare to those who confront us with man-made laws and policies:

1 SAMUEL 17:45
…You come to me with a sword, with a spear, and with a javelin. But I come to you in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied
.

And just so, the Lawgiver Moses here reminds Joshua of all the conquests that he witnessed accomplished by the hand of the LORD and admonishes him to FEAR NOT (as did the armies of Israel during the days of David), but to be as bold and courageous as he was, who would be king of Israel after the fall of king Saul:

DEUTERONOMY 3:21-29
21 "And I
[Moses] 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.' 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.' 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. 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.

Moses then pleads with the LORD one last time that he might be permitted to simply cross the Jordan River and enter into the land and view this marvelous sight.
Consider how this man was used of GOD for forty years, and how he faithfully served the LORD; how GOD continued to encourage him and all Israel about how He was leading them into “a land flowing with milk and honey”.

Yet GOD takes being misrepresented very, very seriously! It was why Moses was forbidden to enter into the land that his people were destined for, what Moses worked so hard for, dealing with the hassles of this people “prone to sin” – and after nearly impeccable service, he is denied for this one infraction.

Severe? Yes! Absolutely! And yet, again, GOD takes being misrepresented seriously! Moses was only allowed to see the Promised Land from afar, and he was then commanded by GOD to encourage and strengthen Joshua, who then took over the leadership of Israel and led them across Jordan into Canaan.

Moses is a type of Christ in many respects, as we’ve seen since the early chapters of EXODUS, but here he now represents the Law, and Joshua represents Jesus.
To enter into the promises of GOD by way of the everlasting covenant (as mentioned in JER 32:40; EZEK 37:26; HEB 13:20), it can’t be by Law, but by promise – (ROMANS 4 is all about this!), through faith in Jesus Christ.

Just as the children of Israel were led into the land promised by Joshua, not Moses, we in the New Testament enter into the kingdom of GOD by faith in the grace of GOD, apart from the Law of Moses; not by the Law but by Jesus Christ!

One last thing: Remember the Mount of Transfiguration in MATTHEW 17? The LORD appears to Peter, James and John in a transformed, glorified state. And there were two that appeared with Jesus: one was Elijah, and the other was – who?

Moses! So he did actually get to see the promised land after all! This shows the tender hearted and gracious and generous heart of GOD!

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