The Bible teaches that God desires to give gifts to His children. As the eternal Creator of all things that is omnibenevolent and righteous, God only gives gifts of the best quality! However, the Bible also teaches that the method by which God’s people must receive His gifts is by faith. God’s gifts are freely available to those God desires to give His gifts to. Knowing the weaknesses of His people, God does not require His people to earn gifts, which is why the scriptures refer to God as a gracious God. Yet still, the Bible firmly instructs that the people of God must demonstrate faith in order to receive the benefits that God’s gifts bring.
In Deuteronomy 2:24-37 the Bible reveal such a truth. This portion of scripture recounts the command that God gave to Moses to lead the children of Israel in an advance against the people of Heshbon. God commanded Moses to march against and attack Sihon the Amorite king, which were a very powerful group of people. God told Moses that He was going to give the king, its people, and the land over to the children of Israel. In that God said He would “give” those things over, one must consider the victory that God promised to be a “gift.” God assured the children of Israel that they would be victorious over the powerful nation of the Amorites if they fought against them. The Lord was also helpful to explain the purpose for His gift.
As the children of Israel marched north and prepared to cross over the Jordan River under the leadership of Joshua, Deuteronomy 2:24-37 explains that God had one last phase of work to do through Moses. God wanted the children of Israel to be assured and confident in their mission to overtake the land of Canaan. Therefore, God told Moses that He would strike fear into the hearts of all of the people of Canaan. God assured Moses that all of the inhabitants of the Promised Land would fear the children of Israel, and God would use the victory over Sihon as the catalyst to strike that fear. Since the Amorites were such a great nation, victory over them would cause great concern throughout the land of Canaan. Thus, there was a “method to the madness” of God, sending the children of Israel against one of the region’s most powerful people groups. The victory that God would give as a gift would have a rippling affect throughout Canaan, causing all of the people to have great concern about the true power and ability of God’s people.
It is important to recognize that as God gave the command to Moses to advance against the Amorites, God presented the opportunity to achieve victory as a gift. As such, Moses and the children of Israel had to demonstrate faith in the Word of God in order to receive the benefits of God’s gift. God’s gift was a victory against a powerful nation. In order to receive that gift, the children of Israel had to trust in God’s Word, trust that victory would come, march towards the Amorites, and engage in battle. The victory could not be received unless the people were willing to trust the Lord enough to engage in battle. Therefore, Moses assembled the children of Israel and marched into the Amorite region, asking permission to pass through peacefully as they did with Moab and Ammon. However, the Amorites did not allow Moses to do so, were combative in Moses’ request, and so the children of Israel waged war and won just as God said.
Deuteronomy 2:24-37 explains that the children of Israel utterly destroyed Sihon, his family, all of the inhabitants of Heshbon, destroyed all of their dwelling places, and took all of their cattle as plunder. God did exactly as promised, and because Moses trusted God’s promise, he marched forward in confidence, engaged in confidence, and won in glory! The scriptures boldly proclaim that there was not a single one that proved to be too strong for the children of Israel on account of God’s participation to bring victory Himself. God equipped His people to win, and since none can overcome God, there are none that can overcome His people when His people confidently advance in faith in order to facilitate the fulfillment of God’s promises. Hence, God’s desire to strike fear into the hearts of the surrounding areas was fulfilled, and the confidence of God’s people was increased.
Interestingly enough, the Bible explains that as Moses sent messengers to Sihon requesting to pass through Heshbon peacefully, Moses was assured of God’s promises being legit based on the response of Sihon the king. Sihon responded in opposition. Sihon responded combatively. Sihon responded in such a way that he wanted to fight and destroy God’s people. It was this response that caused Moses to have confidence in God’s promises. It was the promise of opposition that assured Moses that God’s Word was true and that victory was guaranteed. It was the treat of Sihon that gave Moses assurance in God’s gift being real and inspired Moses to march forward in faith. It is important to note that this is how the scriptures show God’s people should be encouraged. How can one trust in victory that God promises unless one recognizes the presence of opposition for God to overcome? If there is a lacking in opposition, how can God reveal Himself as Destroyer, Conqueror, Victor, and Almighty? The presence of opposition should assure the people of God as Moses was since the presence of opposition simply facilitates the opportunity for God to rise to the occasion, flex, and do what God does – win for His people! Knowing this, when opposition comes, those who know God’s promises and God’s Word should be encouraged and eager with anticipation to see how God WILL bring victory on behalf of His people for His own glory.
The Lord is diligent in His work. He is determined in His plans. When God communicates a promise, He sticks to it and does whatever is necessary to see it to fulfillment exactly as communicated. Over the course of history, the Bible teaches that the Lord has made a variety of promises to various people groups that stem past the children of Israel. God has obviously made promises to all of mankind concerning sin and His offer of mercy and grace concerning sin. Additionally, God has made certain covenants with specific people groups in order to show the world that He is faithful. As the world examines God fulfill these smaller promises to these people groups, the world can rest assured that God is able and willing to fulfill the weightier promises to all of humanity concerning sin, the devil, and death.
It is interesting to see examine God’s promises to people outside of the children of Israel in the Old Testament. While the Bible predominantly deals with promises God made to the descendants of Abraham, it is not as if Israel is the only nation God made beneficial promises to. In Deuteronomy 2:16-23 the Bible explains God’s relationship to the Ammonites. This portion of scripture recounts a conversation that God had with Moses as He prepared to move them farther north towards the Jordan River in preparation to take the Promised Land. In this conversation the Lord told Moses that He wanted the children of Israel to prepare to move on a certain day and time. This detail reveals that God’s plans are specific and detailed. God does not work in a reactionary way. God knows everything concerning the future. Thus, His planning and the timing of that planning is important. God has specific days and times in mind when it comes to the movements of His people.
As God told Israel to prepare to move, He warned them about how to engage with the Ammonites. Like the people of Moab, God told the children of Israel not to contend with the people of Ammon. God warned Israel that they should not engage in battle against them and that if they did, the Lord would not be with them. God was clear to explain the reason for this. God explained to Moses that, like the descendants of Moab, God had set aside a land inheritance for the descendants of Ammon. Genesis Chapter 19 explains that Moab and Ammon were brothers – the sons of Lot. Lot was Abraham’s nephew, and though Lot made poor decisions in life, was considered righteous in the eyes of God. God spared Lot’s life when judging Sodom and Gomorrah, and further enriched Lot by giving his sons these two portions of land. God was determined to give both Moab and Ammon land portions, and Deuteronomy 2:16-23 explains that God was equally determined to ensure they kept these portions of land. Not even the children of Israel were able to take their land away.
The testimony of Deuteronomy 2:16-23 also explains that as God gave the Ammonites their land inheritance, He also prepared it for them just as He did for the descendants of Esau. The scriptures testify that the land that the Edomites and the Ammonites took over had giants dwelling in the land before they each moved into their respective inheritances. Deuteronomy 2:16-23 candidly explains that God destroyed the giants from the land that were great in physical size, army size, and in physical ability. The Edomites and Ammonites had different names that they called these giants, but the scriptures compare them to the Anakim, which were the giants that God destroyed in the flood. Though giants overran the land that God desired to give Edom and Ammon, the Bible explains that God destroyed those opposing foes so that the people of Edom and Ammon were able to move in and overtake the land with ease to receive their inheritance.
These details are important to consider when seeking to know the character and nature of God. The Bible explains that the Edomites and the Ammonites spent more time committing wickedness than following the Lord that blessed them. Nevertheless, God was faithful to keep His promises to those people groups and did the necessary work Himself to ensure that His promises were fulfilled. Though God was sure to discipline and judge those who deserved to be judged, God was faithful to His Word and committed to keeping it over the course of time. The Old Testament speaks loud and clear regarding God’s work to increase the children of Israel, but these short takes on Ammon and Edom in Deuteronomy Chapter 2 show that God does not only increase the children of Israel. God does not only prepare land for the children of Israel. God does not only give inheritances to the children of Israel. As a good God, the Bible teaches that God desires to give good gifts to many people and is willing to do all of the necessary work to ensure that the beneficiaries of His promises are able to enjoy the goodness that He gives.
The Lord is determined in His purposes and is faithful to uphold the affects of His work to ensure that His promises are lasting. The Bible teaches that God has very specific desires and is very organized and orderly in how He goes about accomplishing His work. In fact, the results of God’s work are also very organized and orderly. One can look into the details of creation and see that God does things in particular ways, in particular orders, to accomplish particular things that He ultimately determines as good. God provided the sun, moon, and stars as instruments to tell time so that His people to could be equally as organized and orderly in service to Him. God created every animal of its own kind and assigned each kind of animal a particular dwelling place to have as its dominion and habitat. When God created Adam, he was merely put in place to manage the order and that God had already implemented. Adam was to serve as God’s tool that He would use to sustain the order that He originally created and ensure that His goodness was lasting for the benefit of His creation.
One can examine similar work in the testimony of Israel. In Deuteronomy 2:9-15 the Bible recounts the movement of Israel from Kadesh Barnea to the Valley of the Zered. Moses wrote that this journey took the bulk of their time in the wilderness – 38 years. In Deuteronomy 2:9-15 the Bible explains that as the children of Israel migrated north towards the Jordan River God warned the children of Israel to leave the Moabites alone. God instructed the children of Israel not to engage in warfare against the people of Moab. God assured the Israelites that if they engaged in battle against the people of Moab, they would loose. God had made certain promises to Moab just the same as He did to the children of Esau and the children of Israel. The scriptures communicate that God was faithful to keep those promises as time progressed.
The Book of Genesis explains that the people of Moab were descendants of Lot – the nephew of Abraham. Lot had two sons. One son was named Moab and the other son was named Amon. When God rescued Lot from the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah God allowed Lot to dwell in the land that was later referred to as Moab on account of the intercession of Abraham. The Bible explains that God sought to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah. When Abraham heard of this, he sought the Lord because Lot was living in Sodom. Abraham pleaded to God to spare Lot. God agreed seeing that, though Lot was in severe position of compromise, his heart was pointed towards the Lord so that God considered him righteous amongst the other inhabitants of Sodom. God delivered Lot from the destruction of Sodom and allowed him to settle in the mountains outside of Zoar. Deuteronomy 2:9-15 shows that much later, God was still faithful to Lot and his descendants; allowing them to dwell safely in that area.
God commanded the children of Israel to leave Moab alone. This was not because the people of Moab were righteous and good, but on account of the promises that God previously made. Moab was no better than Israel. However, there are two important factors to consider in God’s command. First, one can see that God is faithful to keep His promises no matter the conduct of the group. God will judge the individual or specific generation for their sin, but not at the expense of His promises to the people group as a whole. Secondly, as Lot was the nephew of Abraham, one must consider that the Moabites were distantly related to the children of Israel. God did not want them engaging in fights against their own family. In fact, as the scriptures progress, God speaks judgment through the prophets because of the fact that both the Moabites and the Edomites fought Israel or allowed Israel to be destroyed without helping. God judged those people for wishing harm against family.
Deuteronomy 2:9-15 shows that God had a good plan concerning the distribution of the land. God had assigned a particular region to the children of Israel and they were to take possession of that portion. However, the children of Israel were only to take the land that God determined. They were not to touch the land of the people of Edom or the people of Moab. God had also determined places for the Edomites and the Moabites and expected all of them to dwell peacefully in the regions and domains that He assigned fairly. Each people group was related to each other and so God expected peace. God made it fair so that each people group had its own space and God’s command to the children of Israel in Deuteronomy 2:9-15 shows that God expected His plans, and the fairness demonstrated within them, to last.
Finally, Deuteronomy 2:9-15 explains that God wanted the children of Israel to stay away from Moab for another reason. Recall that the generation that left Egypt was rebellious against God. The Lord promised that they would not enter into the Promised Land. Hence, while God wanted to protect the integrity of His promises through the land distribution and organization He authored, He also wanted the rebellious Israelites know that they would not advance. When God commanded the children of Israel to stay away from the people of Moab, it caused the children of Israel to prolong their journey towards the Land. It was this extra distance that caused the children of Israel to take 38 more years to prepare to move into the Land. That is not to say that the distance was the overall cause. Instead, the longer course caused more complaints, which caused more judgments, which slowed progress even more. God assured the rebellious Israelites that they would not enter into the Promised Land. Deuteronomy 2:9-15 testifies that the hand of the Lord was indeed against that particular generation of Israelites. God was determined to consume the wicked while upholding the essence of His previous promises and organized work. God was able to do all those things at once!
The Bible teaches that God does good to provide for the needs of His people. When the Bible shows that God’s people have significant or severe lacking, it is usually due to a form of judgment that God brings due to sin and rebellion against Him as His people refuse to repent. Otherwise, the Bible documents that needs of God’s people are sufficiently met. The scriptures do show that God provides more to some rather than others. Sometimes the Lord will choose to provide lavish abundance to His people that go well beyond the realms of “basic need.” Nonetheless, even for those that are not recipients of God’s favor in this particular way, God always provides for the essentials of His people.
Moses reminded the children of Israel of this truth in Deuteronomy 2:1-8. In this portion of scripture, Moses reminded the children of Israel about the commands of God when they left the area of Kadesh and journeyed north towards Edom during the 40-year wilderness journey. As the children of Israel made preparations to go that way, God reminded them that the people of Edom were relatives. Edom was the region of the descendants of Esau. Esau was the brother of Jacob, whose name was later changed to Israel. Thus, the people of Edom were the distant cousins of the children of Israel. This is important to consider when examining the movement and history of Israel. Though the people of Edom did not get alone with the people of Jacob, the Bible explains that God made important and specific promises to each patriarch. It is true that the children of Israel were promised the land of Canaan. However, it is also true that the children of Esau were also promised a land inheritance.
In Genesis 36:8 the Bible explains that Esau departed from Jacob and settled in the land surrounding Mount Seir. In Deuteronomy 2:1-8 Moses stated that God promised the descendants of Esau that they could keep that land as their own. God told Moses to remind the people that they were to deal kindly with the people of Edom and not seek to quarrel with them. God assured the children of Israel that He would not assist them in conflict because He would not take land from the people of Edom. In fact, God was so stern in His position regarding the land of the Edomites, that He told Moses that He would not even give them “one footstep” worth of land as their own. This shows the fairness of God. The Lord did choose the children of Israel as His own special people, but clearly the scriptures show that they were not His “only” special people. The Bible shows that God had specific plans for specific people because He desired to do specific things with those people to reveal Himself to everyone. As God promised the children of Israel the land of Canaan, He promised the Edomites the land around Mount Seir and both people groups would be sure to possess those portions of land.
The reason that God communicated these things to the children of Israel at this time was because God wanted them to cross through Mount Seir on their way to Canaan, but did not want Israel taking ANYTHING from the Edomites. Moses reminded the children of Israel that when they crossed through Edom, God commanded them to pay for everything and not take anything for free. The children of Israel might have needed food and water as they crossed through Edom, but God did not want His people freeloading off of others. Deuteronomy 2:1-8 explains that God adequately provided for the children of Israel so that they were well supplied with money to pay for the things they needed. God’s people were not in a position of need to where they needed to beg for charity because God is not one that neglects the needs of His people.
God accounts for ALL of the needs of His people! Deuteronomy 2:1-8 explains that God blessed the work of the hands of His people so that they had adequate funding to meet their basic needs. Deuteronomy 2:1-8 reminded the children of Israel that God knew about the “trudging” and difficulties of the wilderness journey, but was faithful to see that His people had all they needed in spite of those difficulties. They were never in a position where they had to beg, steal, or freeload off of the resources of others even though their conduct showed God would have been just to allow such a thing. Instead, Moses reminded the children of Israel that the Lord God had been with His people every step of the way and they never lacked a thing! They could afford to pay for the food and water they would need from the Edomites because of the provision that God gave, and so God expected them to use that provision responsibly to buy the basic things they needed rather than be cheap, greedy, or foolish and take from others, suggesting to them that God was unable to meet their needs.
As God provides for the needs of His people, the scriptures make it clear that God’s people should be responsible with such provision as stewards and then be fair with others in how that provision is used. The people of God should not seek to take advantage of others in order to hoard the resources that God gives. The people of God should not be cheap and try to cut deals with people or freeload off of others as if God is unable to pay fair price for the things one needs. The Bible teaches that as God provides, the people of God should freely receive His provision. The things that God gives are His. It all comes from His hand from the abundance of His own infinite resources. The people of God are expected to treat His provision as such and not worry about lacking concerning the basics.
Jesus taught that the Father knows the needs of His people and that if the sparrow and the grass of the field are well accounted for, certainly the people of God will be well taken care of just the same. Jesus reminded the people that God knows the needs of His people, is faithful to adequately meet them so that the people of God never have to worry about the basics. God knows His people need food so that His people should never have to worry about what to eat. God knows His people need clothing so that His people should never have to worry about what to wear. Deuteronomy 2:1-8 explained that God provided resources with the purpose to meet the “basic” needs of the people so that they wouldn’t have to worry about food, water, clothing and other “basic” needs. Today some consider other things as “basic,” squandering God’s provision on excess instead, thereby not having enough for “basic” needs. This is not God’s fault. This is bad stewardship. Deuteronomy 2:1-8 reveals that as God adequately provides, He expects His people to responsibly utilize in order to prove that He is a faithful provider.
The Bible teaches that the first step to salvation is repentance. Repentance and faith go hand-in-hand as one supports the other. The Bible explains that repentance is a change of mind from a fundamental perspective. Repentance deals with one’s acknowledgement of fault, remorse for that fault, and then a sympathetic desire to alleviate that which causes the fault by changing one’s mind to go in a different direction. The Bible shows that while true repentance involves emotion, it is not fueled by emotion. The Bible shows that repentance requires intellectual decisions and prolonged habit changes. True repentance touches every facet of one’s life based on one’s understanding of fault compared to one’s understanding of righteousness as defined by scripture and exemplified by Jesus.
The Bible explains that God requires repentance in order to receive the benefits of His promises. One must depart from sin and the wicked desires/habits of one’s flesh that are contrary to God and change one’s mind about what is right and wrong according to God’s standards outlines in scripture. Again, though this process involves emotion, repentance is not predicated solely on remorse or regret. It is good when one feels bad about doing wrong against God or a person, but repentance does not stop there. Thus, the scriptures show that when God’s people express remorse without a change of mind that stems from a change of heart, God does not acknowledge repentance. In other words, when one doesn’t desire to do right according to God’s standards, but merely feels bad about doing wrong, God will not offer forgiveness since such a person doesn’t truly seek forgiveness.
The Bible provides an illustration of this concept in Deuteronomy 1:41-46. In this portion of scripture Moses reminded the children of Israel that were about to enter into the Promised Land of the fate of the rebellious generation of Israelites. God desired His people to leave Egypt then go straight to the Promised Land to subdue it. However, the scriptures explain that God’s people did not trust in God’s promises. The children of Israel were fixated on worldly and fleshly comforts rather than spiritual ones so that they were ignorant of God, His promises, and the work He desired to do to fulfill those promises. Not knowing God, the people had no desire for the things of God. Not knowing God, the people were indifferent to God’s promises. Therefore, they responded to the commands of God with fear, complaints, and rebellion. God desired good things for His people, but the people rejected God’s favor, seeking vain things of the world instead.
Deuteronomy 1:41-46 explains that Moses reminded the people about how the rebellious generation responded towards God. As God examined the rebellion and unbelief of His people, He told them that they would not enter the Promised Land, but instead would wander the wilderness by the Red Sea. Upon hearing God’s judgment, the Bible states that the people actually had remorse. Deuteronomy 1:41-46 explains that the people confessed their sin against God. They admitted to the sin they committed in their complaints, in their fear, and in their rebellion. God had commanded the children of Israel to go and fight the native inhabitants of the Promised Land, but the Israelites rebelled in fear and unbelief. Though God assured victory, Israel denied God. Yet when God spoke to them through Moses to say that they were going to remain in the wilderness, the children of Israel confessed that they made a mistake in staying behind and not fighting. Deuteronomy 1:41-46 even states that when the children of Israel sought to apologize to God, they took up arms to prepare to fight later. Nevertheless, God was not pleased.
Moses reminded the children of Israel that God did not receive the apology of the rebellious Israelites. As God is able to look into the hearts of all people, He saw and recognized that the rebellious Israelites were simply emotional in response to God’s judgment. They didn’t like that they were getting in trouble. They never expressed a desire to do right. Repentance involves both, and since the children of Israel never expressed the desire to do right in faith through obedience to God’s commands, the Lord denied the people. God told the people not to go out and fight. God told the people that He would not go before them and bring them victory. God told the rebellious Israelites that He would not do as originally promised to that particular group because that particular group despised God’s promises. The children of Israel gave a half-hearted apology because they wanted stuff from God; not because they wanted God. God knew the difference and so denied the half-hearted people.
Deuteronomy 1:41-46 states that the people went out anyway to fight against the Amorites. Though God told the people not to go, the people went anyway, thereby revealing that they were not repentant. They did not have a desire to be obedient and faithful to God as exemplified by their immediate disobedience and further rebellion. Thus, God was not with them and the Amorite defeated the presumptuous children of Israel. Moses reminded the people that the rebellious Israelites were chased out as if bees were chasing them and were driven way back, far from the land of Canaan that was promised to them. Thus, the scriptures show that God will not forgive those who do not have truly repentant hearts. God is able to see the difference between a presumptuous heart and a repentant heart. God will freely forgive the repentant. God will freely forgive those who desire Him, His righteousness, His promises, and His forgiveness. God will not forgive those that simply say, “sorry” just to appease God to try and get stuff they want. Thus, the people of God should not be fueled to seek God in forgiveness by emotion, but should rationally and logically consider one’s position as a sinner, the consequences of such position, the work that God did to remove true believers from such a position, and desire to do right by God’s standards as exemplified by Jesus Christ. God promised that He would never depart from those who desire to be with Him in faithfully humble repentance. Those who are not should not expect God to bring the victories that He promises as seen in scripture.
The Bible teaches that God reveals His goodness and it is up to people to respond appropriately. God reveals His almighty nature. God reveals His sovereignty. God expresses patience. God communicates His promises. God offers mercy. God responds in grace. God’s essence is ultimately love. He makes these things known in public ways so that people have the opportunity to know Him (especially through His Word), but it is up to people to individually acknowledge God’s revelation and respond in an appropriate manner. Since God does so much to make Himself known, the Bible teaches that there are rough consequences for those that do not acknowledge the Lord or consciously choose to respond in a fearful, reverent, and humble manner. Therefore, God’s people would be wise to seek Him through His Word, which is the ultimately place of revelation. Upon pursuing God in the Word, one should seek to understand God’s identity by the Word and respond in the ways that the Bible prescribes that God approves of. Equally as important, the people of God should seek to avoid responding in ways that scripture says God does not approve of!
In Deuteronomy 1:34-40 the Bible explains that Moses took the opportunity to remind the children of Israel about their history. As the children of Israel made preparations in the plains of Moab to cross over the Jordan River and overtake the Promised Land, Moses sought to remind them of some critical things concerning God, His promises, and the appropriate response towards those promises. Moses began by reminding the children of Israel about the mistakes that were made by the generation that was delivered from Egypt and wandered through the wilderness. According to the Bible, God originally intended for the children of Israel to go directly from Egypt into the Promised Land. However, fear, unbelief, and rebellion kept God from permitting the Israelites to do so. Hence, God withheld the fulfillment of His promises for the next generation.
Deuteronomy 1:34-40 explains that as God examined the hearts of the Israelites that wandered through the wilderness, He grew angry and swore upon Himself that none of those people (with the exception of two men) would enter into the Promised Land. Though God had done great miraculous works to reveal His identity and intentions, the people of God responded in fear and complaints against God’s work and plans. As God grew angry, the Bible reveals that God most certainly hears the complaints of His people and sees the fear and doubt that resides in their hearts. The Bible teaches that God is all knowing. This is an example of that reality; and as God saw the wicked, fearful, doubtful, and ungrateful hearts of the Israelites, He was angered. The people despised God’s promises because they did not know God and by extension did not trust Him. Though God had done much to make Himself known, the children of Israel rejected those revelations, and by extension, rejected God. Only Caleb and Joshua were permitted to enter into the land. God withheld the opportunity to enjoy the benefits of His promises from millions of people on account of their unbelief, which was a reflection of their displeasure for God!
However, the Bible explains that God is faithful. Before swearing upon Himself that the rebellious Israelites would die in the wilderness, God swore upon Himself to make the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob a great nation, with a great land inheritance, and that He would bless all of the families of the earth through them. Thus, God was obligated to move forward with His plan. He simply removed a generation of people from the benefits that came with that plan’s fulfillment. Since God is faithful, He promised that the next generation would enter into the Promised Land. When the children of Israel left Egypt, they wandered through the wilderness for 40 years. The children that were born into the Israelite nation as heirs to God’s promises would be the one’s that received the benefits of God’s promises.
Deuteronomy 1:34-40 explains that as God saw that generation of Israelites, He saw a group of people that “had no knowledge of good and evil.” This was the reason that God sought to advance this particular generation. That generation of Israelites did not do anything extravagant or noteworthy to gain God’s approval. Rather, the scriptures explain that the generation that God would advance had God’s approval on account of ignorance. It is important to recognize the phrase that the Lord used to describe the children of Israel. The first time the mention of “knowledge of good and evil” is mentioned in the Bible in one phrase is in the Book of Genesis. When God created the Garden of Eden, He created many trees and plants, but emphasized the existence of two trees: the tree of life, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil. The Bible explains that mankind was to freely eat of the tree of life, but abstain from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. God had good reason for this.
The tree of knowledge of good and evil produced the fruit of awareness and understanding. The Bible explains that God had already determined everything that was “good” according to His perfectly righteous standards. Thus, consumption of the fruit from the forbidden tree would have reflected a heart that did not trust in God’s determination of “good” or a heart that was dissatisfied with God’s goodness, seeking better elsewhere. Likewise, the consumption of the fruit from the forbidden tree would have also made one aware of and gave understanding regarding evil. Since God is the Author of “good,” then evil is that which contrasts God’s nature. One that consumes fruit that produces “evil” reflects a heart that is contrary to God. Thus, the tree in itself was not the issue. Consumption of the fruit of the tree would have revealed a corrupted heart – one that did not trust in God’s determination of “good,” and one that sought to explore that which is contrary to God.
This heart condition is the exact heart condition of the rebellious generation of the children of Israel. They did not see God’s promises as “good.” They didn’t trust that His guarantees made to Abraham were the full extent of pleasure. They did not desire that which God determined to be “good,” figuring their position in Egypt was better. Therefore, they responded by pursuing evil and sought that which was contrary to God. They fashioned the golden calf to worship it instead of God. They sought to conspire against Moses to remove him from leadership. They sought to remain in the wilderness rather than advance into God’s promises.
Interestingly enough, the Bible uses two different Hebrew words in the Book of Genesis in regards to the consumption of the forbidden tree. When God commanded Adam to refrain from eating of the tree, God used the Hebrew word “da`ath” to describe the “knowledge” of the tree. This word refers to perception, discernment, understanding, and skill. Thus, God did not want people to perceive, discern, or understand a different and false version of “good.” Likewise, God did not want His people to become “skillful” in evil. However, when the devil tempted Eve in Genesis Chapter 3, he used a different word to describe “knowledge.” Genesis 3:5 uses the Hebrew word “yada.” This word has a variety of contextual usages, but refers to knowledge by revelation from within in the context of Genesis 3:5. The devil made the “knowledge” that God warned against sound like a “good” thing and used a different word than God to do so.
When God examined the hearts of the hearts of the children of Israel that would advance into the Promised Land and declared that they did not have “knowledge” of good and evil, God used the Hebrew word “yada” to refer to their “knowledge.” In other words, the children of Israel that would advance did not buy into the temptation of the devil to seek greater “goodness” through “evil.” They were ignorant of unfaithfulness. They were foolish in things that were evil. They were dependent on God for an understanding of that which was “good.” They were not like their fathers and mothers that died in the wilderness before them. As God expected in the Garden of Eden, the children of Israel abstained from false versions of “good” and kept away from evil. Thus, while one generation saw the revelation of God and responded in fear, doubt, and rebellion through complaints, and were cut off from God’s promises, another generation saw the same revelation and responded in faith through humble dependency on God, and God alone, and became the heirs to God’s promises!
The Bible explains that one’s confidence in the Lord and His promises is dependent on one’s knowledge and understanding of God. Though God commands His people to be strong and courageous, God’s command is given with the expectation that one will pursue a relationship with Him in order to receive His strength and courage. One’s ability to demonstrate strength is dependent on one’s understanding of God as almighty since the Lord expects His people to exercise His own strength. One’s knowledge of God’s identity as almighty, and understanding of how God flexes His strength will ultimately give one confidence to trust in His strength. Likewise one’s ability to be courageous is dependent on one’s understanding of God’s sovereignty. Courage is demonstrated when one continues to move in a forward direction in spite of opposition, danger, or risk. One’s confidence to do so is based on one’s understanding of God’s sovereign control over all things, thereby enabling victory at all times.
When Moses addressed the children of Israel as they prepared to enter into the Promised Land, he reminded them that the previous generation of Israelites did not do well in this regard. Deuteronomy 1:26-33 explains that Moses reminded the children of Israel about the rebellious generation of Israelites that refused to heed the command of God to take the land that He sought to give them. God was determined to fulfill the promises that He made to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and promised to exercise His sovereign control as Creator to ensure the Israelites inherited the land within the boarders that God predetermined. However, Deuteronomy 1:26-33 explains that Moses reminded the children of Israel that the previous generation was afraid. They saw the native inhabitants of the Promised Land and were fearful.
Moses reminded the people that the children of Israel rebelled against the command of God because of their fear. They saw the native inhabitants and figured them to be more powerful, greater in number, and larger in size. Seeing these physical attributes, the children of Israel refused to do as God said. Though God’s command to advance required conflict and opposition, God’s command was predicated on blessings and rewards. The children of Israel would encounter opposition, but God promised to take care of that opposition and guaranteed victory that would result in great spoils and rewards. Nevertheless, their examination of the physical circumstances caused the children of Israel to be paralyzed with fear and unresponsive towards the command of God. This is not good.
As Moses addressed the children of Israel that would enter into the land, he was sure to explain why the rebellious generation acted as they did. Moses’ testimony shows that the rebellious generation did not know God. As they communicated to one another about the difficult circumstances that faced them in the Promised Land, Deuteronomy 1:26-33 explains that the people speculated amongst themselves that God was sending them into certain destruction. The children of Israel examined the difficulty of opposition and accused God of sending them into battle in order to destroy them. The children of Israel actually believed that God would gather His people together, and command them to go into battle with the intent of leading them to destruction. This shows that the Israelites did not know God. They did not know the faithfulness of God. They did not know the gracious nature of God. They did not understand the immutable and unchanging nature of God. They didn’t understand the sovereignty of God. They didn’t understand the power of God. Seeing the numbers, size, and apparent strength of the native inhabitants of the Promised Land, the children of Israel figured that God was either unwilling to bring victory to fulfill His promises or was unable. Both of these suppositions go against the nature of God.
Examining this testimony, it is important to see that ignorance of God leads to fear, unbelief, and rebellion. Not knowing the promises of God leads one to suppose things that are untrue about God. Not knowing the faithfulness and immutability of God leads one to figure God changed His mind or plans regarding things He’s already communicated. Not knowing the sovereign control and power of God leads one to doubt that God is able to overcome any and all circumstances, no matter the magnitude that one perceives. Deuteronomy 1:26-33 explains that Moses reminded the children of Israel of God’s past work in Egypt. God expected His people to trust Him, be strong, and courageous because God had already revealed His faithfulness, His immutability, His sovereignty, and His power through the works He did to rescue Israel from the bondage of Egypt. God had already revealed Himself in incredible ways through the wilderness journey. The children of Israel had plenty of truths and experiences to rely on to know, understand, and trust in God!
As Moses addressed the children of Israel, he made a compelling statement about God. Deuteronomy 1:26-33 explains that God took care of the children of Israel and carried them forward towards the fulfillment of His eternally unconditional promises as a father carries a son! It was not just that God revealed His attributes to the children of Israel to instill faith in them, but that He did so with great affection to prove that His intentions were to bring benefit to His children. As a father seeks to provide benefits for his son, God sought to bring benefits for the Israelites. Though the leadership of God required the children of Israel to ensure difficulty and opposition, so long as God was carrying them in His arms as a father carries a son, the children of Israel had nothing to worry about. Who can pull the possession of God from the grip of His hands if He is the sovereign, almighty, faithfully unchanging God? If God were for the children of Israel as a father is for a son, who would be against them? Though difficulty and opposition were part of the journey, the scriptures clearly teach that one’s understanding of God based on His past works (as documented in the Bible) and unchanging nature should equip one to do as God commands in faith and with great assurance knowing that rewards and blessings are always found in the arms of the Living God!
The Bible teaches that it is impossible to please God without faith. According to the scriptures, one must believe in two fundamental principals about God. One must believe that God is. This means that one must trust in the identity of God as explained in the scriptures. One must believe in God’s eternally triune nature, His holiness, His righteousness, His immutability, His impeccability, and all other unique attributes as described in the Bible. One must trust those claims to be true. The scriptures also teach that is impossible to please God unless one believes that He is a rewarder to those who diligently seek Him. Thus, it is not enough that one trust God exists as the scriptures describe, but one must also diligently seek Him by the scriptures and then trust that God will provide rewards to those who do so. It is then helpful to know how God rewards and understand what God’s rewards consist of. God’s ultimate reward is forgiveness of sins, which facilitates eternal life in His eternal kingdom in heaven. Knowing this, one can examine the scriptures to see how God rewarded His people throughout history to see the patterns of God’s work, thereby developing confidence in God’s identity as a rewarder.
The testimony of Deuteronomy 1:19-25 explains that God made significant strides to fulfill the promises He made to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. God promised them that their descendants, the children of Israel, would be a great nation, receive a great land inheritance, and be able to bless all of the families of the earth. Deuteronomy 1:19-25 documents Moses’ dialogue to the children of Israel as he sought to remind them about the promises of God and the work He had already done to fulfill them. God had already multiplied the people to great numbers as documented in the census in the Book of Numbers. Moses also reminded the people that God intended to give the children of Israel the land long before the time that Deuteronomy 1:19-25 was written. God desired for His people to inherit the land immediately, but the conduct of His people prohibited Him from rewarding the people in the manner that He desired. Nevertheless, one can examine the testimony of Deuteronomy 1:19-25 and see how God desires to reward His people.
The scriptures explain that God spoke to Moses to inform the people that God was giving the land over. While the acquisition of the land would require fighting and conflict, the Bible explains that God was actually “giving” the land to the children of Israel. As the sovereign God who created the heavens, the earth, and everything in it, He was the Owner of the Promised Land. Thus, while the Amorites were already in the land, God would use the children of Israel to repossess that, which was His, and then give it over to Israel as an inheritance. Moses told the children of Israel that God was giving the land, and that they only had to go into the land and possess it. The conflict would result in victory. The battles would not be fair fights and the Bible teaches that God would fight on behalf of His people. For this reason, God commanded the children of Israel to move forward to take the land and not be afraid or discouraged.
Deuteronomy 1:19-25 explains that as Moses informed the people of God’s Word, the people request to send spies into the land to check it out. They wanted to see the condition of the land and gain insights into the people they would have to defeat in order to possess the land. While they were making efforts to move forward, the request to send spies first reflected a certain amount of reluctance from the people. God commanded the people to be fearless and courageous, but the people were tentative. Nevertheless, the spies went into the land – one spy from each tribe, 12 spies in all. They confirmed the things that God had said. The land was indeed good. The land was indeed the best of its kind. Though the native inhabitants frightened the spies, they could not deny that the gift God sought to give was exactly as the Lord promised it would be!
This testimony explains that God’s rewards are of the greatest quality. As the Lord promised to give the children of Israel a land inheritance, the spies confirmed that it was an excellent inheritance flowing with milk and honey. The gift that God sought to give was a good gift because God is a good God. He desires to give good things. The testimony also confirms that, as God is Creator and possesses all things, He is able to give anything He desires at any time. The children of Israel only had to trust this to be true. God told the children of Israel that He had given the land over, they just had to go possess it. They had to trust that God was sovereign and could give the land over. They had to trust that God was almighty and would bring victory. They had to trust that while the acquisition required some effort, the effort would be fruitful because God was in charge of it. God’s gift was on the table. The children of Israel just had to trust that to be true and pursue the Lord in faith through obedience in spite of opposition in order to receive the benefits of God’s promises.
The same goes for God’s promise and rewards concerning eternal life. The gift of eternal life is on the table. The price of forgiveness has already been paid. Salvation is freely available to anyone that trusts God was willing and able to give such a gift. One must simply trust that God is willing to give of Himself and able to do so. Like the children of Israel with the Promised Land, God’s people today must simply trust God’s promises to be true and pursue the Lord through His Word, being obedient to it, in spite of opposition, knowing that God promises victory, giving blessings of the greatest quality! This is the only way to please God; but when God is pleased with His people, the rewards are sweet!
The Bible teaches that faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God (Romans 10:17). This is because the Bible is arranged as a historical narrative of God’s work concerning the documentation of the promises He decreed and the work He performed to fulfill those promises. The Bible is a compilation of eyewitness testimonies that verify the miraculous work of the Living God to do that which He promised to His people. Thus, the testimony and history of the nation of Israel becomes extremely relevant to the people of God. The Bible provides the history of Israel because of the promises that God made to Israel. The Bible explains that God made eternally unconditional promises to Israel in order to use them as an example of His faithfulness and power to do that which He promised concerning sin, death, and the devil. As one reads the historical accounts of Israel in the Bible, one can examine God’s past work, acknowledge that God doesn’t change, and be confident in God to fulfill His promises in the future. The examination of God’s past work for Israel is proof of the work that God does and will do for His people in the future, especially in eternity!
In Deuteronomy 1:1-18 the Bible recounts some of the work that God did to progress the children of Israel further along in God’s plan. The Book of Deuteronomy overall is referred to as “the second law,” but is not “another law;” simply a recounting and elaboration of the law that was given on Mount Sinai. Thus, the first portion of the Book of Deuteronomy recounts much of the work that God had already done for Israel in order to build the faith of the people concerning the work that God would complete in the future concerning His promises. Deuteronomy 1:1-18 focuses on the promises that God made to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the Book of Genesis. God first spoke to Abraham in Genesis 12:1-3 promising to make his descendants a great nation, give them a great land inheritance, and bless all of the families of the earth through his descendants as well. Deuteronomy 1:1-18 recounts some of the things that God had done for the children of Israel through the wilderness journey to take them closer to the fulfillment of those promises.
First, the testimony of Moses in the Book of Deuteronomy begins by providing a date and time stamp to set the context of the book. Moses wrote that the contents of Deuteronomy took place one month before the children of Israel crossed into the Promised Land from the west side of the Jordan River. Moses wrote that the children of Israel were in the plains of Moab, 40 years, 11 moths, and one day after they had left Egypt. Thus, the contents of Deuteronomy span the time of only one month. The Book of Deuteronomy is a compilation of three major sermons from Moses where he reminded the children of Israel of God’s promises, and elaborated on the works that He would do to fulfill His promises, thereby equipping the Israelites to properly respond to the mercy and grace that God offered to His people.
Second, Moses reminded the children of Israel that God was already in the process of fulfilling the eternally unconditional promises made to Abraham. The children of Israel were already on their way to becoming a great nation. Deuteronomy 1:1-18 explains that God had already multiplied the people so that they were “as the stars of heaven in multitude.” While this comparison was merely an exaggeration, the scriptures also reveal that God’s intent was to continue to multiply the Israelites to be far greater than the size they were stemming from Abraham. The census of the Book of Numbers explains that the abled-bodied soldiers for all 12 tribes were several hundred thousand people. This did not account for women and children, which means that the population of Israel was likely in the millions! God was indeed multiplying a family that began with Abraham, Sarah, and Isaac.
In fact, Moses reminded the people that their numbers were growing so great that he was unable to meet the needs of the people as a leader. Moses confessed that he was unable to lead the people by his own individual efforts. Moses reminded the people that they had judged placed over them because the numbers in Israel were too great for one man to lead on his own. The Lord commanded Moses to appoint judges within each tribe and had leaders govern the people by the thousands, then by the hundreds, then by the fifties, then by the tens. The leadership and governing structure of the children of Israel was a witness to the fact that God was indeed multiplying the people and making them great.
Deuteronomy 1:1-18 also testifies that as God appointed leaders and judges in Israel to govern the people, their greatness as a nation was displayed through this leadership. God commanded these leaders to judge by His own righteousness that was communicated in the Law on Mount Sinai. Thus, as the judges that God appointed administrated justice according to the Law, God’s own righteousness would be demonstrated. The judgments of those people would be representative to the judgment of the Lord Himself per the Law. In this way, God’s own righteousness was to flow through His people. God’s greatness was to be made manifest through the righteousness of the people in their judgments, which were to be exemplary of God’s own judgment. The children of Israel were being transformed into a great nation by their numbers as well as by the righteousness they demonstrated in adhering to God’s Law. Moses recounted these things to the children of Israel before they made their way into the Promised Land to prove to the people that God was indeed faithful and able to do as promised. As God was in the past, so He is today, and will continue to be in the future!
The Bible explains that the Lord desires His people to be blessed and lavishly rewarded with eternal possessions of His own kingdom. The Bible also teaches that God desires to distribute these gifts, rewards, and blessings in a fair manner according to criteria that He determines as right and good. God is the great equalizer. Thus, God’s blessings, gifts, and rewards are distributed in perfect ratio according to the person that receives them. God does not give a person more than they can handle. Likewise, God does not cheat people out of wages that were hard earned. The Bible teaches that when it comes to rewards in eternity, God is like an employer that pays fairly according to the work that was completed by the laborer. This is why God reveals Himself so often in the scriptures as being fair; so that His people can rest assured that the distribution of eternal wealth in His kingdom will be right, good, and eternally satisfying!
An example of God’s fairness is presented in Numbers 36:1-13. In this portion of scripture, the Bible elaborates on the situation that was revealed in Numbers chapter 27. In that chapter, the scriptures revealed a problem with the plan for the distribution of the land. Each family was allotted a certain portion of land, but God made it so that the men of each family were to be the heirs of these inheritances. A family from the tribe of Manasseh did not have any sons (Zelophehad), but instead four daughters. Those daughters approached Moses and revealed the unfair nature of the land distribution. Since their father had no sons, their family would not get land. Moses sought the Lord and the Lord revealed that these women were right. God would not cut His people out of an inheritance just because of the gender of a person. God told Moses to distribute the land accordingly to the daughters as if they were sons.
In Numbers 36:1-13 the Bible explains that there was another issue discovered within this set of circumstances. Traditionally, when a woman married a man, the woman left her home to start a new family with her husband in his homeland. The woman would become one with her husband in a new place. Numbers 36:1-13 explains that some of the people from the tribe of Manasseh saw a problem with this. If the daughters of Zelophehad married men from other tribes, they would no longer possess their inheritance. The husband from another tribe would then absorb that portion of land. Thus, if this happened often enough, the portion allotted to the tribe of Manasseh could potentially shrink significantly over time. In fact, this was the case for any family from any of the tribes in which a daughter received an inheritance of land.
The people of Manasseh saw this as a problem and brought it to the attention of Moses. The scriptures explain that Moses sought the Lord. While the scriptures do not document the conversation that Moses had with the Lord, Numbers 36:1-13 explains that the solution Moses explained came from the Lord. Hence, the Bible teaches that Moses sought the Lord before offering a solution. The situation was complicated, and rather than try to solve the issue by his own flawed wisdom, Moses confessed his inadequacy by seeking God’s wisdom. Therefore, Moses received God’s wisdom, was able to bring forth a plan, and the Bible testifies that the plan was received, executed and the people were satisfied with the fairness that God’s plan facilitated.
The scriptures testify that God wanted the daughters of Zelophehad to marry within their own tribe. If the daughters of Zelophehad married men from the tribe of Manasseh, then the land inheritance would stay within the tribe of Manasseh, not go to another tribe. God commanded that the people practice this process across the board. If any woman received a land inheritance, she was to marry within her own tribe so that the land inheritance would stay within that tribe, and God’s original plan and allotment would remain intact and fair. The scriptures explained that the tribe of Manasseh had 52,700 men that were accounted for in the census; and while those men were men of various ages and many were already married, the large population shows that the daughters of Zelophehad had a good pool of men to choose from and were not as restricted or deprived as one might initially gather.
As God delivered a reasonable solution to ensure the integrity of His initial plan, the scriptures reveal that God has the desire for His fairness to be lasting. The scriptures communicate that God desires for His people to be blessed, but that His blessings should last from generation to generation. God wants His people to enjoy the gifts that He gives, not just today, or through a particular generation, but forever. As an eternal God, He desires His benefits to be everlasting so that the joy and opportunity that His goodness brings lasts without fading, enabling the people of God to enjoy His provision for ages to come!