BIBLE STUDY SERIES #353, 354 and 355

30 August, 1998

SEARCHING THE PROMISED LAND - PART IV

By Douglas C. Nesbit B.A.

Our series of Bible Studies, which began several years ago with the Call of The Almighty God to Abram in Ur of the Chaldees, has taken us down the generations of his progeny through Jacob (Israel) to the scene after the Israelites had encamped at Mount Sinai, the holy mountain. Now a formal tribal nation, and moving onward through the wilderness to The Promised Land of Canaan, they had sent forward spies, especially picked for their suitability to the task, to report on this land of destiny. In our last studies, in Numbers 13 and 14, we saw how these spies reported what they had found during their forty-day investigation of The Promised Land.

The spies had given a report which conveyed some measure of the bounty available within The Promised Land, but they had also brought back a report which filled the people with fear because they were looking to their own strength and ability, rather than to the Almighty God of all the earth for their sustenance. The spies, one from each of the twelve tribes, had, with two notable exceptions, failed in their own trust in God's power and ability to bring victory. The LORD had led these Israelites out of Egypt, from under the whips of Pharaoh's taskmasters and military forces. He had protected them, fed them, and granted them many miraculous evidences of His power along the way. He had revealed His Laws to them, so that they might have a civic structure capable of gendering a life of strength in body, mind and spirit, joined as a people to God Himself, and yet they had shown themselves afraid to meet the military challenge presented by the reports which the spies had delivered. Now these spies had been condemned to death by a plague from before The LORD. The people had proven themselves unworthy to be granted a divinely imparted victory and they now received God's judgment upon their failure to trust in Himself. The LORD now speaks His instructions, which we had only time to scan briefly at the end of our last study. We are reading, beginning at Numbers 14:25, the Scripture concerning what transpired at this point.

25. (Now the Amalekites and the Canaanites dwelt in the valley.) To morrow turn you, and get you into the wilderness by the way of the Red sea.
26. And the LORD spake unto Moses and unto Aaron, saying,
27. How long shall I bear with this evil congregation, which murmur against me? I have heard the murmurings of the children of Israel, which they murmur against me.
28. Say unto them, As truly as I live, saith the LORD, as ye have spoken in mine ears, so will I do to you:
29. Your carcases shall fall in this wilderness; and all that were numbered of you, according to your whole number, from twenty years old and upward, which have murmured against me,
30. Doubtless ye shall not come into the land, concerning which I sware to make you dwell therein, save Caleb the son of Jephunneh, and Joshua the son of Nun.
31. But your little ones, which ye said should be a prey, them will I bring in, and they shall know the land which ye have despised.
32. But as for you, your carcases, they shall fall in this wilderness.
33. And your children shall wander in the wilderness forty years, and bear your whoredoms, until your carcases be wasted in the wilderness.
34. After the number of the days in which ye searched the land, even forty days, each day for a year, shall ye bear your iniquities, even forty years, and ye shall know my breach of promise.
35. I the LORD have said, I will surely do it unto all this evil congregation, that are gathered together against me: in this wilderness they shall be consumed, and there they shall die.
36. And the men, which Moses sent to search the land, who returned, and made all the congregation to murmur against him, by bringing up a slander upon the land,
37. Even those men that did bring up the evil report upon the land, died by the plague before the LORD.
38. But Joshua the son of Nun, and Caleb the son of Jephunneh, which were of the men that went to search the land, lived still.

Well, that was the rather sad picture we left with you last week. Keil and Delitzsch note at verses 32-33, the meaning "But your sons will be pasturing (i.e. will lead a restless shepherd life) in the desert forty years, and bear your whoredom (i.e. endure the consequences of your faithless apostasy... .)" They also explain that the forty years would actually consist of the two years past, reaching to the Autumn of the second year, plus thirty-eight more years, bringing the total of wilderness wandering up to forty. They point out in a quotation, that, during these forty years, "Every year that passed, and was deducted from the forty years of punishment, was a new and solemn exhortation to repent, as it called to mind the occasion of their rejection." Keil and Delitzsch also answer certain scholarly suppositions which seek to dispute the certainty and accuracy of the account by reason of the memory of some on entering Canaan of their Exodus experience, pointing out that youths under the age of 20 might easily remember such, and likewise an argument regarding the ages of Aaron's sons, who would in any case, not be involved in the judgment upon that generation because the Tribe of Levi was excepted from the numbering in Numbers 1 and sent no spy into Canaan.

At verse 34, The Companion Bible notes, at the mention of "forty days", that the number 40 is "the number of probation." That reference also notes at verse 35, the verse which mentions the death of this whole generation (with certain exceptions which are named), that "Aaron died on first day of fifth month of fortieth year" and it adds as supporting references Numbers 20:28, and 33:38.

The New Bible Commentary on this chapter picks up its assessment under the heading "God's judgment", and explains the situation thus: "God tells Moses that He contemplates destroying the unfaithful people, and starting a new nation from Moses' own descendants (11-12). Moses pleads for the people, urging the glory of God, and laying stress on God's wonderful grace (13-19). The Lord declares that He has pardoned, in accordance with Moses' request (20). However, the generation which had turned against Him will die in the wilderness (22-35)."

Having regard to the words "By the way of the Red Sea" (25), the note continues: "This does not mean that they would return in the direction of the body of water which was crossed soon after leaving Egypt (Ex. xiii. 18ff.) The northern end of the Red Sea is shaped like a 'Y'; its western branch is now called the Gulf of Suez; the eastern branch, which is on the eastern side of the Sinaitic Peninsula is now called the Gulf of Akaba. It is to this latter that reference is made here. Only Caleb and Joshua will live to enter the Promised Land (30). The following generation will receive the victory from God's hand (31). The unfaithful spies died by the plague at once (36-37)."

Of the words "Ye shall know my breach of promise" (34), the note says "RV 'alienation'. It is to be feared that the AV translation of the Hebrew word tenuah as 'breach of promise' might give the impression that God would go back on a promise which He had made. Actually tenuah simply means 'opposition' or 'hostility'. The ancient Greek LXX translated it 'purpose of wrath'; the Latin Vulgate as 'revenge'."

39. And Moses told these sayings unto all the children of Israel: and the people mourned greatly.
40. And they rose up early in the morning, and gat them up into the top of the mountain, saying, Lo, we be here, and will go up unto the place which the LORD hath promised: for we have sinned.
41. And Moses said, Wherefore now do ye transgress the commandment of the LORD? but it shall not prosper.
42. Go not up, for the LORD is not among you; that ye be not smitten before your enemies.
43. For the Amalekites and the Canaanites are there before you, and ye shall fall by the sword: because ye are turned away from the LORD, therefore the LORD will not be with you.
44. But they presumed to go up unto the hill top: nevertheless the ark of the covenant of the LORD, and Moses, departed not out of the camp.
45. Then the Amalekites came down, and the Canaanites which dwelt in that hill, and smote them, and discomfited them, even unto Hormah.

The New Bible Commentary notes here, with the heading "The unsuccessful repentance", This is one of the most tragic passages in the Bible. When the people heard the divine decision, they wept. They were greatly stirred by the death of the ten spies whose advice they had accepted. Now that the opportunity for immediate possession of the Promised Land was denied them, and they were told that they must wander forty years in the wilderness, the temper of the people completely changed. They confessed their sin (40), and declared that they would now go up to the place that the Lord had promised. Moses told them that the opportunity was gone. To attempt now to take the land would be only a further step of disobedience, and would accomplish nothing. However, the people took things in their own hands, and undertook in their own strength to do what they had previously feared to undertake with God helping them. The attempt failed at its beginning. Driven back by the Canaanites, frustrated and despondent, nothing remained but the forty years of wilderness wandering to which God had doomed them." For the word "Hormah" (45).we are referred to notes on Deuteronomy 1:44.

We shall save the summary comments of Keil and Delitzsch on this passage for our next study.

6 September, 1998

SEARCHING THE PROMISED LAND - PART V

By Douglas C. Nesbit B.A.

Our series of Bible Studies, which began several years ago with the Call of The Almighty God to Abram in Ur of the Chaldees, has taken us down the generations of his progeny through Jacob (Israel) to the scene after the Israelites had encamped at Mount Sinai, the holy mountain. Now a formal tribal nation, and moving onward through the wilderness, they had approached their goal, The Promised Land, but, with the adverse report of the majority of the spies sent to search out this Land of Promise, they had balked at entering it. Thus they had forfeited their chance, and were told that they would wander in that wilderness through which they had been passing the last two years for another thirty-eight years, until all of the generation above twenty years of age, which had stopped at the border in unbelief, had died out.

They had been at the point of open rebellion against the leadership of Moses on at least ten different notable occasions during the previous passage across this wilderness of Sinai, during the last two years, and now, with the prospect of enduring another thirty-eight years of the same, and the knowledge that all who were of mature age among them would, by God's pronouncement, never see the Promised Land, being, instead, destined to die in that wilderness, they were not a little dismayed at this news. This prospect had so dismayed them that they had reversed their plan and now desired to take the land of Promise in their own strength, which they had just previously refused to do under God's protection.

Perhaps, we ought to review those verses with which we ended the last study. They come from Numbers 14:39-45:

39. And Moses told these sayings unto all the children of Israel: and the people mourned greatly.
40. And they rose up early in the morning, and gat them up into the top of the mountain, saying, Lo, we be here, and will go up unto the place which the LORD hath promised: for we have sinned.
41. And Moses said, Wherefore now do ye transgress the commandment of the LORD? but it shall not prosper.
42. Go not up, for the LORD is not among you; that ye be not smitten before your enemies.
43. For the Amalekites and the Canaanites are there before you, and ye shall fall by the sword: because ye are turned away from the LORD, therefore the LORD will not be with you.
44. But they presumed to go up unto the hill top: nevertheless the ark of the covenant of the LORD, and Moses, departed not out of the camp.
45. Then the Amalekites came down, and the Canaanites which dwelt in that hill, and smote them, and discomfited them, even unto Hormah.

Keil and Delitzsch note, concerning those passages "The announcement of the sentence plunged the people into deep mourning. But instead of bending penitentially under the judgment of God, they resolved to atone for their error, by preparing the next morning to go to the top of the mountain and press forward into Canaan. And they would not even suffer themselves to be dissuaded from their enterprise by the entreaties of Moses, who denounced it as a transgression of the word of God which could not succeed, and predicted their overthrow before their enemies, but went presumptuously up without the ark of the covenant and without Moses, who did not depart out of the midst of the camp, and were smitten by the Amalekites and Canaanites, who drove them back as far as Hormah. Whereas at first they had refused to enter upon the conflict with the Canaanites, through their unbelief in the might of the promise of God, now, through unbelief in the severity of the judgment of God, they resolved to engage in this conflict by their own power, and without the help of God, and to cancel the old sin of unbelieving despair through the new sin of presumptuous self-confidence, - an attempt which could never succeed, but was sure to plunge deeper and deeper into misery."

Keil and Delitzsch continue, turning our attention to the geographical situation. They state: "Where 'the top (or height) of the mountain' to which the Israelites advanced was, cannot be precisely determined, as we have no minute information concerning the nature of the ground in the neighbourhood of Kadesh. No doubt the allusion is to some plateau on the northern border of the valley mentioned in ver. 25, viz. the Wady Murreh, which formed the southernmost spur of the mountains of the Amorites, from which the Canaanites and Amalekites came against them, and drove them back. In Deut. i. 44, Moses mentions the Amorites instead of the Amalekites and Canaanites, using the name in a broader sense for all the Canaanites, and contenting himself with naming the leading foes with whom the Amalekites who wandered about in the Negeb had allied themselves, as Bedouins thirsting for booty. These tribes came down (ver. 45) from the height of the mountain to the lower plateau or saddle, which the Israelites had ascended, and smote them and... 'discomfited them, as far as Hormah,' or as Moses expresses it in Deut. i. 44, They 'chased you, as bees do' (which pursue with great ferocity any one who attacks or disturbs them), 'and destroyed you in Seir, even unto Hormah.' There is not sufficient ground for altering 'in Seir' into 'from Seir,' as the LXX., Syriac, and Vulgate have done. But (the Hebrew word) might signify 'into Seir, as far as Hormah.' As the Edomites had extended their territory at that time across the Arabah towards the west, and taken possession of a portion of the mountainous country which bounded the desert of Paran towards the north (see at chap. xxxiv. 3), the Israelites, when driven back by them, might easily be chased into the territory of the Edomites." Of "Hormah", they add "(i.e. the ban-place).is used here proleptically (see at chap. xxi. 3)." That word, "proleptically", by the way, which is used by Keil and Delitzsch, comes from Greek, and means a figure by which objections are anticipated and answered in advance, and also the dating of an event before its proper time. The Companion Bible notation simply states "Hormah = destruction."

The situation is made clear if we actually look up that reference found in Chapter 21:3, for there we read of the developments forty years later, when Israel again approached this area. The Canaanite king took some of them prisoner, so they vowed a vow unto the LORD and said "if thou wilt indeed deliver this people into my hand, then I will utterly destroy their cities. And the LORD hearkened to the voice of Israel, and delivered up the Canaanites; and they utterly destroyed them and their cities:" and he called the name of the place Hormah. Thus, even at the earlier time, when Israel was turned away, the place was given the name "Hormah" in the record, before that anticipated completion of retribution took effect.

In meditating upon the fact that Israel had, first, lacked the trust necessary to accomplish what The Almighty had ordered in His power, and then, in dismay at the prospect of the punishment, had resolved to accomplish it in their own power, we can see how much training was yet required in this wilderness schooling. The people had lacked the essential firmness to do their part under God's direction, and then, on being told that they had lost their "window of opportunity" to obtain the objective, some had boldly decided to attempt it without Him helping them at all.

How like ourselves. We, the descendants of those ancient Israelites today among the generally Anglo-Celto-Saxon and kindred peoples, will not obey God's Commandments, and yet we seek to enter our Promised Land of plenty, and the alleviation of social conditions, by our own chosen methods. Such methods will never accomplish what is intended regardless of the money being lavished upon them, for, God being denied His place of authority and leadership among us in the nation, human strength, brains and energy are of no avail.

Indeed, it puts me in mind of the way in which the authorities are pushing the Bible and specifically God's Commandments out of our courts, our school system, and all official governmental positions, and denying Him His rightful authoritative position at the head of His Kingdom, yet these same people are seeking to make social contracts and attain social goals in the power of humanist efforts, trusting multicult social engineering as a substitute programme in order to accomplish what they desire, but attempting it all totally in their own power. It will never be successful without total submission to The LORD.

When we present these Bible Studies before the public, I sometimes think that there are some individuals who believe that such studies are sectarian, divisive and diversionary because they speak of a time long ago and of a people in a land far away, whose leader, Moses, acknowledged God's authority in all national and spiritual matters. They appear to believe that there is little that can be learned from these ancient records of Holy Writ which we are studying. Today's humanists are adamant in forcing God's word out of our midst in every official and humanly legal way possible. They seek to accomplish the desirable social goals on their own. It simply will not work, the way they are going about it, and there are very logical reasons why it will not work. Perhaps we can explain some of these reasons in subsequent studies in the weeks and months ahead.

13 September, 1998

WILDERNESS SCHOOLING - PART I

By Douglas C. Nesbit B.A.

Our series of Bible Studies, which began several years ago with the Call of The Almighty God to Abram in Ur of the Chaldees, has taken us down the generations of his progeny through Jacob (Israel) to Egypt and Exodus, to Mount Sinai and Canaan's border. But at the border, on hearing the adverse report of the majority of the spies sent to search out The Promised Land, the people of Israel had failed to enter in, though promised The Lord's Strength. At the Land of Promise, they had balked, and thus they had forfeited their chance; their "window of opportunity." The penalty was that the whole generation above twenty years of age, which had stopped at the border in unbelief, must stay another thirty-eight years to wander in the wilderness for a total of forty years, having been assessed a year for each day that the spies had searched the land, until all that generation had died out except the few who had remained faithful, namely Joshua and Caleb, and Moses and Aaron. As things turned out later, we see that even the latter two would die before the crossing of the Jordan River into Canaan finally took place under the leadership of Joshua and by direction of The LORD.

Ending our last study, I ventured the statement that, as with those ancient Israelite ancestors of the generally Anglo-Celto-Saxon and kindred peoples today, their present day progeny are attempting something which will simply not work. I stated that "Today's humanists are adamant in forcing God's word out of our midst in every official and humanly legal way possible. They seek to accomplish the desirable social goals on their own. It simply will not work, the way they are going about it, and there are very logical reasons why it will not work."

Today, before we leave that point, I might interject a few comments to substantiate my statement. One reason why this humanistic anti-God and anti-Christ attitude will never work, and the main stumbling block to its success as I see it, is simply that, unguided by the ultimate source of all wisdom, the challenges are beyond the capacity of mere mortals to solve for they have not knowledgably experienced all time and space, let alone perceived its Maker. This lack is particularly present, in the case of those sophisticated heady and high-minded mortals who believe themselves of such superior intellect that they can comprehend all matters with what we might term a spiritually one-dimensional scientific approach. The reason it is beyond them is simply that the scientific approach eliminates at once, from all consideration or fair evaluation in the court of justice, every manifestation of "miracle."

When John the Baptist, then in prison and awaiting, as it turned out, his execution by decapitation, had heard of the progress of Jesus' ministry, he sent two of his disciples, to ask an important question, namely, "Are you he that should come, or do we look for another?" Incidentally, two witnesses were required by the Old Testament Law, as we find, in such passages as Numbers 35:30, Deuteronomy 17:16, and Deuteronomy 19:15, in order to validate a matter, as you may remember, and thus, as Luke 7:19 records, he sent two witnesses to inquire about Jesus' work. Jesus Himself, likewise, later sent seventy disciples, "two and two" as the AV terms it, into the places where he was going to preach, to prepare the way before him, in accordance with that same law.

And what was the reply of Our Lord to the question these two disciples of John, acting as witnesses, had brought to him? He replied "Go and shew John again those things which ye do hear and see: The blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them. And blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in me." So the miracles were real, and they were happening sufficiently rapidly upon one another that these two witnesses, before they returned to report back to John in the prison house, must have observed samples of all these types of miracles listed by Jesus.

Miracles do not fit the "paradigm" of the humanist. That term is a word sometimes used by humanists in a demeaning manner when addressing Christians, because they fancy it evidences their own superior intellectual status, although it simply means an example, a model or a scenario portraying an assumed picture of the truth.

Miracles come in all shapes and sizes, as we might express it. There are miracles of life and miracles piercing death. There are miracles in the design of the perfect fit of circumstance, and of age-long terminals matching timed events stretching down the long corridor of history. The Almighty has, above all, allowed the highest priority to the necessity of choice, so that love may be reciprocated in the words "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself." (Matthew 22:37, 39). This is so even though it meant human corruption and sin. He, knowing the end from the beginning, allowed the predestined flow of all of time to glorify His Holy Name at the crisis of all history, on The Cross of Calvary. Where, in the electrical materialism of atoms and molecules do we find the intellectual or spiritual expression of "love" that transcends death?

Not only are such elitists lacking in the essential humility of the truly wise, but, while pretending to have the best interests of others at heart, and offering the facade of well-intended concern for the ruffled feelings of multicult cross-currents, they assume a claim to the moral high ground with the whip of Orwellian legal terror to hold down any protest or opposition offered in the name of Our LORD. These so called "elitists" think that all the rest of the people of the world are "programmable" and that they know what the desirable form of such "programming" should be. If you are one who seeks to eliminate the word of God from society, deeming it but a false delusion of the gullible, and a remnant trace of superstitious impediment which sits upon the fast track to a world government under humanist direction, please be warned. God is not mocked.

As King David, the Psalmist so clearly words it, "The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God." (Psalm 14:1) Throughout all of history, The Almighty never has successfully been opposed, and He will laugh at the effort to dislodge Him from His rightful pre-eminence today. Indeed even their arguments against His word have been foreseen in the Holy Scriptures! Psalm 2:4 records David's words concerning the derision of God. Noting that the humanists are today granted power to make the rules, as "rulers", I might quote the whole of Psalm 2 as it so aptly describes the prophetic picture for the benefit of us all.

1. Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing?
2. The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD, and against his anointed, saying,
3. Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us.
4. He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: the Lord shall have them in derision.
5. Then shall he speak unto them in his wrath, and vex them in his sore displeasure.
6. Yet have I set my king upon my holy hill of Zion.
7. I will declare the decree: the LORD hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee.
8. Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession.
9. Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel.
10. Be wise now therefore, O ye kings: be instructed, ye judges of the earth.
11. Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling.
12. Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in him.

That portrays the picture I would want to present, and it is stated as a prophetic announcement to the intellectual heathens of our own time. Incidentally, because the AV uses that word "heathen", and singles such out for God's derision, I looked up a dictionary definition of the word heathen, and I find that the explanation given reads thus: "an inhabitant of an unchristian country, one neither a Christian, Jewish, nor Mohammedan..." and it adds "a pagan: an irreligious person." It is certain that not all religions can be perfectly true if they differ from one another, and I believe that there is but a single doorway to The Father, namely that alone which is found in Jesus Christ, but expounding my reasons for such an assertion further, as I have done frequently in the past, will have to be developed on another day.

Today, I am speaking of, and to, those who deny the existence of anything beyond that which can be dissected and tested repeatedly in a laboratory, and about which there is certainty in their minds. I am addressing those who, in the materialist certainty of their intellectual beliefs would deny the believer in the miraculous word of Holy Writ in the Christian Bible, his civic right to see the Christian faith received, respected and honoured by the legislation of an avowedly Christian Government as it has been done in former generations in our land, and Our Lord granted His honour and glory in the fullest establishment of His Kingdom.

I wish to leave with you today some thoughts to carry with you during the succeeding days. There are many who are "offended in Christ", which means that they are offended by hearing even the very name of Our Lord. They despise His true followers for being incapable of properly assessing their own proud intellectualism and embracing it as whole-heartedly as themselves. These will be shocked and dismayed at the appearance of the signal that the Second Advent is upon us. Let those who are wise prepare to meet their God, and let the world know that a witness to The Truth has been given to them, that they may be aroused from sleep, and find true wisdom in His Word.

We shall return to our regular studies in Numbers on our next programme.

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