I Have Given You the Land to Possess
In today’s passage, the people have the surety that they are entering Canaan. Verse 50 makes that perfectly clear. The Lord says, “When you have crossed the Jordan.” So there is no need to wonder if it will happen, it will.
However, no sooner does the Lord say this than He gives directions as to what should be done. That already seems a bit ominous. He has given them about seven jillion directions of things to do or not to do since they agreed to the covenant, and yet, they have consistently failed to do, or not do, those things which they were to not to, or to do.
The very fact that they have failed thus far calls into question their future in Canaan. History is often the best gauge of future performance. Further, the Lord tells them exactly what the consequences for failure will be.
Joseph Benson actually provides reasons for Israel to fail to do what they were supposed to do. He says, “Those of them whom ye suffer to remain in the land through your cowardice, slothfulness, or friendship toward them, shall be a great plague to you, and bring sore calamities upon you.”
Each of those can be a strong enticement for failure to comply. We are protective of self at times, even to the point of cowardice. It takes great reliance on our cause – whatever it may be – to step forward and face risk, even to the point of death.
As humans, we can be slothful in one area or another. As groups of people, we can be industrious in one way, and slothful in another. Often, it isn’t intentional. Rather, it can be cultural. In this way or that, we can slothfully fail to do what we should.
And friendship can be the greatest hindrance to doing what is right. That is seen in Scripture, and it is seen in our own lives. Few people have the moral grounding to go fully against any and all established friendships when it is the right thing to do.
Text Verse: “In that day ‘HOLINESS TO THE LORD’ shall be engraved on the bells of the horses. The pots in the Lord’s house shall be like the bowls before the altar. 21 Yes, every pot in Jerusalem and Judah shall be holiness to the Lord of hosts. Everyone who sacrifices shall come and take them and cook in them. In that day there shall no longer be a Canaanite in the house of the Lord of hosts.” Zechariah 14:20, 21
The Lord prophesied through Zechariah that a time was coming when Jerusalem would be the focus of the world’s attention, and that there would be no Canaanite in the house of the Lord of hosts. Why is that verse relevant to what we are looking at in our verses today?
One thing is for sure, the prophecies of Zechariah 14 have never been fulfilled in human history. Nor have many other prophesies been fulfilled which run throughout the Bible, a few of which we will see in our sermon today.
Unless you are adamant in being wrong about biblical theology, you must admit that these prophecies are to be taken literally, and that they point not to the church, but to Israel.
And, unless you want to continue being wrong by stating that the church has replaced Israel, you must admit that the reemergence of Israel in the modern world must have some prophetic significance which must be a part of what those verses are prophesying.
What is to be taken as an axiom in theology is that one plus one will always equal two. Prophecies about Israel will be fulfilled by Israel. That much is certain. So let’s stick to what is rational and look at things from that perspective. And… let’s get into the sermon. What is presented here is another marvelous part of His superior word. And so, let’s turn to that precious word once again and… May God speak to us through His word today and may His glorious name ever be praised.
I. An Introductory Thought
This short passage is a transitional one between the record of the wilderness wanderings which preceded it, and the preparation for the division of land which will be seen in the coming chapter. There, the boundaries of the land will be stated, and the names of the leaders who are appointed to divide the land will be named.
Everything is being prepared for Israel, in advance of their entry into the land, but it is being done by the Lord through Moses. One can see a glimpse of salvation for the believer in how this is laid out, using Moses the man as typical of the law itself.
To understand this, we must first review what the purpose of the law was. Only then can we understand the symbolism of what is being relayed to us by the Lord now speaking to Moses about the inheritance.
The Lord gave the law to Israel. The law was intended to act as a means of bringing life to man. This was explicitly stated in Leviticus 18 –
“You shall therefore keep My statutes and My judgments, which if a man does, he shall live by them: I am the Lord.” Leviticus 18:5
Life could come through the law. However, the Lord said to them that this would only come about if one did the things found in His statutes and His judgments. As it says, “if a man does.”
As we saw when we were in that passage and that particular verse from Leviticus, it was given based on the holiness of God. The central theme of Leviticus, and thus the central theme of the giving of the law itself, is found in Leviticus 11:44. There it said, “…you shall be holy; for I am holy.”
It is a theme that Peter picked up on for those in Christ in 1 Peter 1:15 & 16. There he quoted Leviticus exactly. Holiness is the expectation of man in the presence of God. However, how is that obtained?
For those under law, the answer is found in doing the things of the law, as explained in Leviticus 18:5. That verse contains the main logical reason for man to be holy, and the promised outcome for him walking in holiness. In doing so, he would live.
Leviticus 18:5 is such an important verse, that it is incorporated into the thought of Genesis 2 & 3, and it is substantially repeated several times in both the Old and New Testaments. In Genesis 2, the Lord gave a command which promised death if disobeyed. The implication then is that life would result through obedience –
And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; 17 but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” Genesis 2:16, 17
However, in Genesis 3, because man disobeyed the law given by the Lord, access to the tree of life, by which man could live forever, was denied, and death entered the world.
But in Leviticus, the Lord made a promise that through obedience to His law, the man shall live. As we saw at that time, many scholars simply pass this off as meaning living happily or possessing a higher life, or something like that.
But this was not at all what the Lord was saying. Rather, it is a promise that if a man keeps the requirements of the law, he will live and not die. Consequently, and on the flip side, if one does not keep the requirements of the law, he will die and not live.
The Lord dwelt among Israel. Access to Him at the tabernacle, and later at the temple, was restricted because of man’s sin-nature. But it was also restricted because of the law itself. Without meeting the law’s precepts, there could be no access.
However, in fulfillment of the law, access would naturally be granted once again. It could not be otherwise. The law was given to give life. If life is promised, then it must be granted.
If one doesn’t die, then he continues to live. If he lives forever, then he has eternal life. This is the implication of the words of Leviticus 18:5, and that thought, as we saw then, was solidified by the use of a definite article in front of the word “man.”
Leviticus 18:5 doesn’t say “if a man does.” It says, “if the man does.” During that sermon, I asked you to correct your Bible so you would see this on your next journey through Leviticus. Thus, that verse looks forward to Christ – The Man who, in fact, did keep the ordinances and judgments of Yehovah, and thus He is the Possessor of eternal life.
This is exactingly explained in the book of Romans and elsewhere in the New Testament as well. Christ fulfilled the law, and thus the law is fulfilled. In Him, life is granted.
Leviticus 18:5 is so important that Nehemiah 9:29 refers to it after the people’s return from the punishment of exile. Ezekiel 20 then repeats it three times to show that failure to keep the Lord’s law is what resulted in that punishment.
In the New Testament, Paul then cites this same verse twice, in Romans 10:5, and in Galatians 3:12 to show that Christ, who fulfilled the Law of Moses, is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes in Him.
It is faith in His completion of this law which grants eternal life. He did the work; we must do the believing. This, then, explains the thirty-eight years of wilderness wandering.
That was given, as was clearly seen in the earlier Numbers sermons, as a type or picture of the punishment of Israel rejecting Christ Jesus. Israel failed to do the believing, and they were punished for it, exactly as the Lord, through the law, said time and again would occur.
And so what does that have to do with the Lord now instructing Moses on what lies ahead in this passage? It is, as I said a few minutes ago, a transitional passage between the stops of Israel since leaving Sinai, and the appointment of the boundaries of the land, and the naming of the people who would divide it.
Israel was redeemed, Israel received the law, the law pointed to Christ, and Israel rejected Christ. Because of that, they went into the punishment of exile. Now, they are on the border of the land of inheritance with Moses being instructed on the layout and division of it.
It is Moses, representative of the law, who is given the instruction. And yet, Moses will not enter into the inheritance. The law has no part in the inheritance, except for the completion of it.
The man who does the things of the law will live. Christ accomplished the things of the law, and He lives. Thus, He is the embodiment of the law. Moses, standing representative of the law will die outside of the inheritance, in the land of Moab.
Christ did not die in heaven. Rather, He died outside of that inheritance in this fallen world. When He died, the law died with Him because it is fulfilled in Him. Further, His death was not for His sin under the law, but ours. Therefore, in Him is life, not death. Our sin for transgressions of the law dies in Him, and life is granted to us in exchange.
For Israel of today, the inheritance is yet ahead, but this is what this is picturing. They can either die under the law, represented by Moses dying outside of Canaan, or they can die in Christ, represented by the entering of the promise.
This is what this short transitional set of verses is anticipating. An inheritance awaits. However, the typology ends there with that thought in some respects. Once Israel actually crosses the Jordan, they will again be used to show countless examples of the spiritual battle which is being waged, the futility of life under the law, the hope of Messiah to come, and so on.
Each passage of a section builds up to a completion, and then the stories begin again, just as was seen in the many stories of Genesis. For now, the main lesson for us to remember – and it is one which has been repeated uncounted times already – is that we cannot obtain the inheritance through the law. Only Christ could do that.
For us, the inheritance is obtained through THE MAN who did the things of the law. If we step back from that premise and to the law itself, we only bring ourselves condemnation because – as we have seen – the man who does the things of the law will live by them, and we cannot do the things of the law.
What is it that will bring me life?
What thing must I do to be right with my God?
What will end this enmity and strife?
How shall I conduct my affairs on this path I trod?
Shall I stand before God and boast in what I have done?
Shall I rely on my deeds accomplished under the law?
Shall I reject the perfection of His Son?
Am I able to stand on my own, without spot or flaw?
Not on a bet would I so determine to do!
A single misdeed and I would be done in
I will trust in the work of the Lord, holy and true
Only through Him will I be freed from the penalty of sin
Thanks be to God for Christ Jesus my Lord
Only in Him will I to the judgment seat step forward
II. Instructions Concerning the Conquest (verses 50-56)
50 Now the Lord spoke to Moses in the plains of Moab by the Jordan, across from Jericho, saying,
The picture is the same as has been seen several times already, even just last week as we closed that passage. Moses represents the law, of whom Christ is the embodiment. Moab means “From Father.” It is Christ who is From Father and who has been given the law as His responsibility to live out.
The Jordan, or “Descender” is typical of Christ who descended to accomplish His work in order to bring the people into their inheritance. Jericho, or Place of Fragrance, is typical of that step into a return to paradise because of Christ. As Paul says –
“Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place. 15 For we are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing. 16 To the one we are the aroma of death leading to death, and to the other the aroma of life leading to life. And who is sufficient for these things?” 2 Corinthians 2:14-16
These are the types which the narrative anticipates in Christ and in His work.
There is also the reality of the passage which originally took place. Israel is, within a very short span, going to enter into Canaan. Once over the Jordan, the land must be subdued, those things which are unholy must be destroyed, the land must be divided among the tribes, and the people must be made aware of the penalties for not living holy in the presence of the holy God, who is the Lord.
A brief review of these principles will now be laid out, and then each will be further explained, detailed, or revealed in the short span of a few weeks before Moses dies.
For now, it is interesting to note that the general sentiment found in this verse is repeated again in Numbers 35:1 and it is also used to close out the book of Numbers at the very end of Chapter 36.
In other words, the substance of Numbers 33:50 through Numbers 36:13 forms its own unique addition to the body of law found in the books of Moses and which are a part of the law itself. It is that which is spoken of at their very last stopping point before entering the inheritance, and yet it is separate from the book of Deuteronomy which will also be put forth in this same spot.
This final section of Numbers is then subdivided into Numbers 33:50 through the end of Chapter 34, and then from Numbers 35:1 until the end of Chapter 36, which closes out the book.
51 “Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them:
This is what the Lord is said to have spoken to Moses in the previous verse. He is to “Speak to the children of Israel.” This is not merely something for the priests, but rather for all of the people.
As Israel is a group of people who are descended from a man, Jacob who is Israel, the words are spoken to all of his sons, meaning the twelve tribes, and all who descend from them.
The expectation is that what will be directed will be accomplished within a certain amount of time, but if it fails to be accomplished, that which is left undone will result in problems not specifically for this generation, but for all generations to follow.
Thus, the idea of speaking to the children of Israel here means the people now and at all times ahead. A matter left unattended to can be and must be corrected later, or it will continue to be a festering wound for the people. This will be seen in the words to Moses as the Lord continues.
That is a good lesson for us, even now. The Lord has spoken to the world through His word. He has also spoken to His church directly through His word. A matter which is left unattended to, or which is in violation of His word, is guaranteed to result in a wound.
The only way to heal such a wound is to correct what caused it, and what has caused it to continue and grow, which was a violation of His word in the first place. Faulty doctrine is such a violation. The church will suffer from it, just as Israel suffered from violations of the law of the Lord.
The only courses that will result are continued expansions of the trouble if left uncorrected, eventually leading to rejection by the Lord, or a correction of the problem and returning to what is expected by Him. This is why Moses is told to speak to the children of Israel. Everyone is to be aware because the matter will, eventually, affect all. And, the instructions are for…
51 (con’t) ‘When you have crossed the Jordan into the land of Canaan,
At other times, the Lord spoke in general terms concerning entry into the land, such as in Leviticus 23:10 –
“Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them: ‘When you come into the land which I give to you, and reap its harvest, then you shall bring a sheaf of the firstfruits of your harvest to the priest.’” Leviticus 23:10
Now, the word from the Lord is that this general time spoken of before has arrived. With a simple crossing of the Jordan, the hope of the people will be realized. The imagery of Christ for the Christian is obvious. When we cross over Christ, meaning passing through what He has done for us, the journey home is complete. It may not be realized actually, but it is a done deal.
For Israel, Canaan is the anticipated inheritance. It is also the anticipated place of rest. Once they have entered the land, the people must act in accord with the word or the inheritance will be marred, and the rest will not be achieved. The question is then, how will this be achieved? The beginning to that answer is…
52 then you shall drive out all the inhabitants of the land from before you,
The verb for “drive out” here is yarash. It speaks of occupying as a possession. In essence, “you shall dispossess them from the land before you.” The meaning of this is explained more fully in Deuteronomy –
“When the Lord your God brings you into the land which you go to possess, and has cast out many nations before you, the Hittites and the Girgashites and the Amorites and the Canaanites and the Perizzites and the Hivites and the Jebusites, seven nations greater and mightier than you, 2 and when the Lord your God delivers them over to you, you shall conquer them and utterly destroy them. You shall make no covenant with them nor show mercy to them.” Deuteronomy 7:1, 2
To “drive out all the inhabitants” then means nothing less than destroying them. If they simply drove them out physically, they could regroup and attempt to retake the land they had been disinherited from.
Or, they could make an alliance with another nation and come back to destroy Israel. The remedy was not driving out physically, but driving out through extermination. Further, they were to…
52 (con’t) destroy all their engraved stones,
Here is a word which has only been seen once so far, maskith, or imagination. It is derived sekvi which speaks of the mind, and thus it refers to the imaginations of the mind in forming an image.
The NKJV wrongly says, “engraved stones.” Here, it is a single word signifying imagery of any type, not merely stone. Because this is dealing with the mind, it may be that it is some type of image used as a talisman or that which is intended to influence a person as in divination or the like. Using this same word in Leviticus 26:1, it said –
“You shall not make idols for yourselves; neither a carved image nor a sacred pillar shall you rear up for yourselves; nor shall you set up an engraved stone in your land, to bow down to it; for I am the Lord your God.” Leviticus 26:1
As can be seen, it is some type of imagery which could be bowed down to in idolatry. Therefore, any such imagery was to be destroyed. To have such images could, and would, inevitably lead the people to idolatry and/or sorcery. Further, they were told to…
52 (con’t) destroy all their molded images,
v’eth kal tsalme masekotam t’abedu – “and all images their molten you shall destroy.” Here, the word tselem speaks of an image of something else. The second word, masekah, speaks of that which is poured out, thus signifying molten. It is something cast into a shape which represents something else, like a Buddha, or a lion, or whatever. These were to be destroyed. Further…
52 (con’t) and demolish all their high places;
v’eth kal bamotam tashmidu – “and all high places desolate.” The word is shamad, which comes from a root signifying desolation. Thus it means to destroy until erased. The high places refer to places of worship which are on hilltops, mountains, and the like.
The idea is that the person goes up in order to bring himself closer to his god. This is contrary to the concept found in Scripture where God condescends to descend to His people. To elevate oneself through going to a high place signifies several things. First, it means that a person feels worthy enough to get closer to his god. Therefore, pride is involved.
Secondly, it means that the person has labored on his own to ascend to his god. Thus, personal works are involved in his communing with his deity. That obviously bears undertones of pride as well.
Thirdly, it denies the omnipresence of God because if God is truly God, He is everywhere. The symbolism of God descending, or “coming down to man,” is that of meeting man on his level, but it doesn’t actually mean that God is not omnipresent. But to go to a high place would give the mind that impression.
This offensive practice was never eradicated by Israel, even during the administration of Samuel, who is said to have gone to the high places to sacrifice, nor at the time of Solomon, who is said to have gone “to the high place that was in Gibeon” to meet with the Lord.
However, at times, kings of Judah such as Asa, Jehoshaphat, Hezekiah, and Josiah were noted as having obediently followed the Lord and destroyed these idolatrous places of worship. Unfortunately, as soon as a new king reigned, the people would go right back to their practices, sometimes even being spurred on by the king himself. In fact, of king Ahaz, it says –
“For he walked in the ways of the kings of Israel, and made molded images for the Baals. 3 He burned incense in the Valley of the Son of Hinnom, and burned his children in the fire, according to the abominations of the nations whom the Lord had cast out before the children of Israel. 4 And he sacrificed and burned incense on the high places, on the hills, and under every green tree.” 2 Chronicles 28:2-4
Later, similar words were spoken concerning Manasseh. So wicked had he become that there was finally no remedy. Even after the good king, Josiah, brought great reforms to the land, the Lord’s anger was too hot, and so He spoke forth His words of doom –
“Nevertheless the Lord did not turn from the fierceness of His great wrath, with which His anger was aroused against Judah, because of all the provocations with which Manasseh had provoked Him. 27 And the Lord said, “I will also remove Judah from My sight, as I have removed Israel, and will cast off this city Jerusalem which I have chosen, and the house of which I said, ‘My name shall be there.’” 2 Kings 23:26, 27
The law was agreed to, the people were warned, and eventually there was no remedy left. Though Israel always revered Moses as their great lawgiver, they failed to revere the Lord who is the true Source of that law, and they failed to heed the words of law which came through Moses.
Indeed, the fickled state of Israel is mirrored in our own hearts, lives, and churches as well. For many, there will not be a happy end to their walk, all because of idolatry of the heart and of the mind, and because of a failing to simply put self aside and trust in Jesus. For now, the Lord continues His instruction to Moses…
53 you shall dispossess the inhabitants of the land and dwell in it, for I have given you the land to possess.
The same word, yarash, that was used in verse 52 is used twice in this verse. There is a dispossessing of the inhabitants, and then there is the possessing by Israel. And this possession is based on an inheritance…
54 And you shall divide the land by lot as an inheritance among your families; to the larger you shall give a larger inheritance, and to the smaller you shall give a smaller inheritance; there everyone’s inheritance shall be whatever falls to him by lot. You shall inherit according to the tribes of your fathers.
These words here are similar to words found in Numbers 26 –
“Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying: 53 ‘To these the land shall be divided as an inheritance, according to the number of names. 54 To a large tribe you shall give a larger inheritance, and to a small tribe you shall give a smaller inheritance. Each shall be given its inheritance according to those who were numbered of them. 55 But the land shall be divided by lot; they shall inherit according to the names of the tribes of their fathers. 56 According to the lot their inheritance shall be divided between the larger and the smaller.’” Numbers 26:52-56
What is obvious is that this inheritance is not by size of tribe. In Numbers 26, the NKJV inserted the word “tribe” twice by saying, “To a larger tribe you shall give,” and “to a small tribe you shall give.” That is, as we saw then, wholly incorrect.
As it says in this verse now, “And you shall divide the land by lot as an inheritance among your families.” It is not by tribe, but by family that the size of the inheritance is made. The tribe’s inheritance is not based on its given size, but rather it is based upon the lot.
As it says, “…everyone’s inheritance shall be whatever falls to him by lot. You shall inherit according to the tribes of your fathers.” The Lord, through the lot, determined where each tribe would be situated. The division of that tribal land was to then be divided by size according to the family within the tribe.
This was the whole purpose of the second census which was conducted based on family. The importance of this was that by the Lord choosing where the tribes would be located, the prophecies which had already been spoken concerning Judah and other tribes would be fulfilled.
What happened within the tribal land was of less consequence than the actual location of the tribal land itself. Regardless of location, though, the importance of clearing the land – and the reason for it – is again stated and expanded on…
55 But if you do not drive out the inhabitants of the land from before you, then it shall be that those whom you let remain shall be irritants in your eyes and thorns in your sides, and they shall harass you in the land where you dwell.
This is a solemn and dire warning to Israel. It is not a maybe. Nor is it something tolerable but which could be ignored. Rather, it is a surety, and it is something that would constantly afflict and torment Israel, if they failed to heed.
The consequences for not dispossessing all of the people of the land are threefold. The first is that they would be l’sikem b’enekhem, or something which affects the eyes.
The word here is sek, and it is only found here in the Bible. It is believed to come from the word sakak, meaning a covering. How that can be then translated as a thorn, as most translations say, is difficult to justify.
The NKJV steps out and says “irritants.” That probably comes closer to the meaning. It probably signifies something that causes the eyes to be covered over like getting pepper-sprayed, and so it is a constant irritant. But even more, it would keep the people from seeing what is right, and what was harmful. Thus, they would be people without discernment.
The second consequence is that they would be v’litsninim b’sidekhem – “and thorns in your sides.” This word, tsanin, is more certain. It is a thorn. It is only seen twice. The second time, interestingly, it is speaking of being a thorn in the eyes, showing that the first word is something other than a thorn –
“But they shall be snares and traps to you, and scourges on your sides and thorns in your eyes, until you perish from this good land which the Lord your God has given you.” Joshua 23:13
The idea here is that no matter which way one turns, there will be the discomfort of sharp pains. Thus, there would be the constant spiritual needling of these people which would rob Israel of her ability to rightly pursue the Lord.
The third consequence is that “they shall harass you in the land where you dwell.” It is the same word which was used concerning the treatment of the Midianites when they troubled Israel, pulling them into physical and spiritual harlotry.
The harassing spoken of here would be both literal and spiritual. The word gives the sense of besieging. Thus Israel would be besieged by the very people they were to dispossess. Of these three consequences, Jamieson-Fausset-Brown wrongly states –
“This earnest admonition given to the Israelites in their peculiar circumstances conveys a salutary lesson to us to allow no lurking habits of sin to remain in us. That spiritual enemy must be eradicated from our nature; otherwise it will be ruinous to our present peace and future salvation.”
This is a poor analogy. They are equating collective Israel to us individually, which is not incorrect, but then they make the error of saying that what happened to Israel can be equated to a ruining of our own salvation.
People may argue over whether a believer can lose his salvation or not (which he cannot), but the analogy is still faulty because God has never forsaken Israel. If Israel is to be equated to the individual in Christ, which is acceptable and correct, the obvious conclusion is that the individual cannot lose his salvation – quite the opposite of their analysis.
What this can be equated to, is the state of individual churches which fail to deal with sin in their congregations. Eventually, judgment will come, and the church will have its lampstand removed. Regardless of that, for Israel, the words have been spoken, and they will assuredly come to pass.
Zechariah was a post-exilic prophet. What that verse implied is that the Canaanites remained in the land throughout the years of Israel prior to their exile, and they continued on in the land after the return of the exiles. This is even seen in Matthew 15:22 where he notes “a woman of Canaan” being in the region of Tyre and Sidon.
The Canaanites picture those who bring others into subjection, and thus false teachers who subject their people to false doctrines. What is seen of the inhabitants of Canaan troubling Israel in a physical way is directly equated to how false teachers brought Israel, and indeed many in the church, into spiritual bondage.
The promise of Zechariah 14 is that someday this will no longer be the case in Israel. They will be subject to the Lord, who is Jesus the Messiah.
The sad part for Israel here is that they had already seen the truth of what the Lord promises will occur when they were joined to Baal of Peor, and when they failed to eradicate the Midianites as expected. They were given advanced lessons in the consequences of their actions, and they failed to pay heed and learn. In their failing, the Lord finishes with this solemn promise…
*56 (fin) Moreover it shall be that I will do to you as I thought to do to them.’”
The chapter ends with the introduction of a new word, damah, or to be like. The Lord told Israel to dispossess the inhabitants of the land. This can then only be taken in one way. In failing to do so, and in being overcome by those they should have overcome, the Lord would make a comparative exchange and, instead, dispossess Israel.
And what this means, without holding back for the sake of political correctness, is that Israel’s two exiles, and the punishment they received before and during those exiles, were wholly self-inflicted wounds.
What occurred to them could have been avoided. But they were selected to be the example for the world to see. The law can save no one through his own futile attempts to live by it. Rather, the law can save anyone when his trust is in Christ who fulfilled it in his stead.
Israel was told to cross over the Jordan and to do certain things in order to be secure and free from harm, but they missed the typology of what the Jordan, or the Descender, anticipated. When they crossed over, it was in anticipation of entering their inherited rest. However, the book of Hebrews, quoting the 95th Psalm, says of the wilderness generation, “They shall not enter My rest.” The psalmist then says later in the psalm, “Today, if you will hear His voice.” Understanding that the psalmist lived long after Israel crossed the Jordan, the author of Hebrews then says –
“For if Joshua had given them rest, then He would not afterward have spoken of another day.” Hebrew 4:8
The only logical conclusion, which is explained fully by the author of Hebrews, is that Joshua did not bring them into their rest, and that he was only used as a type of Christ to come. When Israel rejected Christ, they made the same pattern as when Israel rejected the Lord after leaving Sinai when they refused to enter Canaan.
The point of the author’s words, and indeed the point of Israel’s existence as the people called by God, is to demonstrate – without a doubt – that the law cannot save anyone apart from Christ, and that all need Christ, even Israel – collectively and individually.
And how can we know that this is correct? All we need to do is look at what the typology has brought us to. Israel was in the wilderness under punishment wandering for the past 40 years prior to crossing the Jordan. That clearly pointed to Israel’s punishment and exile for the past 2000 years.
At the end of the exile, there will be a great battle which will then usher in the time of the millennium. A time when Christ will physically rule from Jerusalem for 1000 years. But what does it say about the people of the land at that time? Not that Israel is to dispossess them. Rather, Ezekiel prophesies about it –
“Thus you shall divide this land among yourselves according to the tribes of Israel. 22 It shall be that you will divide it by lot as an inheritance for yourselves, and for the strangers who dwell among you and who bear children among you. They shall be to you as native-born among the children of Israel; they shall have an inheritance with you among the tribes of Israel. 23 And it shall be that in whatever tribe the stranger dwells, there you shall give him his inheritance,” says the Lord God.” Ezekiel 47:21-23
The time of rest will be realized for this long wayward people, and that rest will include any who are there to dwell with them in the land. Both Jew and Gentile have been given, and continue to be offered, the same salvation. Someday, Israel will see this and reach out for what they have missed for so long.
God’s promised rest is what Israel anticipated, it is what they failed to obtain, and it is what is now realized in Christ Jesus. Hebrews says, “For we who have believed do enter that rest.” Have you called on Jesus? Have you entered into the rest promised by God? If not, today would be a great day for you to do so.
The fulfillment of the ages is coming quickly, and the time for the world, as it is now being run, is rapidly coming to a close. Be sure that you are ready for the day when things change, and God comes for His people and then judges the world in righteousness.
Closing Verse: “And there shall no longer be a pricking brier or a painful thorn for the house of Israel from among all who are around them, who despise them. Then they shall know that I am the Lord God.” Ezekiel 28:24
Next Week: Numbers 34:1-29 Is it the same as heaven? No, not a chance… (The Earthly Inheritance) (67th Numbers Sermon)
The Lord has you exactly where He wants you. He has a good plan and purpose for you. It may seem at times as if you are lost in a desert, wandering aimlessly. But the Lord is there, carefully leading you to the Land of Promise. So follow Him and trust Him and He will do marvelous things for you and through you.
I Have Given You the Land to Possess
Now the Lord spoke to Moses in the plains of Moab
By the Jordan, across from Jericho, saying
“Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them:
‘When you have crossed the Jordan into the land of Canaan
———-as I am now relaying
Then you shall drive out all the inhabitants
Of the land from before you
Destroy all their engraved stones, destroy all their molded images
And demolish all their high places too
You shall dispossess the inhabitants of the land and dwell in it
For I have given you the land to possess
And you shall divide the land by lot as an inheritance
———-among your families
As to you I now address
To the larger you shall give a larger inheritance
And to the smaller you shall give a smaller inheritance
———-so shall it be
There everyone’s inheritance shall be whatever falls to him by lot
You shall inherit according to the tribes of your fathers
———-as directed by Me
But if you do not drive out the inhabitants
Of the land from before you
Then it shall be that those whom you let remain
Shall be irritants in your eyes and thorns in your sides, it is true
And they shall harass you in the land where you dwell
Moreover it shall be that I will do to you
———-as I thought to do to them, so to you I now tell
Lord God, we are even now in a wilderness
And we are wanting to be led by You
Without You to direct, our lives would be a mess
And so, be our guide, O God; You who are faithful and true
We long for the water in this barren land
May it flow forth from the Rock, our souls to satisfy
Give us this refreshing, spiritual hand
And may we take it, and to our lives daily it apply
And we shall be content and satisfied in You alone
We will follow You as we sing our songs of praise
Hallelujah to You; to us Your path You have shown
Hallelujah we shall sing to You for all of our days
Hallelujah and Amen…
50 Now the Lord spoke to Moses in the plains of Moab by the Jordan, across from Jericho, saying, 51 “Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them: ‘When you have crossed the Jordan into the land of Canaan, 52 then you shall drive out all the inhabitants of the land from before you, destroy all their engraved stones, destroy all their molded images, and demolish all their high places; 53 you shall dispossess the inhabitants of the land and dwell in it, for I have given you the land to possess. 54 And you shall divide the land by lot as an inheritance among your families; to the larger you shall give a larger inheritance, and to the smaller you shall give a smaller inheritance; there everyone’s inheritance shall be whatever falls to him by lot. You shall inherit according to the tribes of your fathers. 55 But if you do not drive out the inhabitants of the land from before you, then it shall be that those whom you let remain shall be irritants in your eyes and thorns in your sides, and they shall harass you in the land where you dwell. 56 Moreover it shall be that I will do to you as I thought to do to them.’”