This chapter is a continuation of Moses’ words to the people of Israel, and it is full of memorials which brought to the people’s recollection the events with which God had distinguished His mercy towards them while they passed the borders of the Edomites, the Moabites, and the Ammonites. It also gives an account of Israel’s battle with Sihon, king of the Amorites in Heshbon.
Moses gave only a short account of the long sojourn of Israel in the wilderness. During this time, the Lord not only chastised them for their murmuring and unbelief, but He also prepared them for the conquest of Canaan. This He did by humbling them for their sin, and by teaching them to mortify their lusts, to follow Himself, and to comfort themselves in Him. Also during this time, the Lord prepared the Canaanites for destruction. The measure of their iniquity was filling up; and although they could have used that time as a space to repent in, they abused it instead by hardening their hearts.
Although Israel was kept waiting a long time for their deliverance and inheritance, it did come at last! But before God brought them to destroy their enemies in Canaan, he taught them to forgive their enemies in Edom; for we will remember from Numbers 20:21 that the Edomites refused to allow Israel to pass through their country in peace. Mount Seir had already been given to the Edomites, the descendants of Jacob’s brother Esau, as their place of possession; and the Israelites were not permitted to seize it. They were also cautioned to not meddle with the Moabites or the Ammonites. Even though the king of Moab had endeavored to have Israel cursed, yet they were not to retaliate. The Moabites and the Ammonites were to be spared because they were the descendants of righteous Lot (2 Pet. 2:7), who kept his integrity in the midst of Sodom. Besides, the land which they possessed had been given to them by God as their inheritance; it was not intended for Israel. God sometimes gives and preserves outward blessings to wicked people in order to show that they are not the best things that we can desire. He has better things than worldly treasures in store for His own children! Happy are those whom Jesus has delivered from the wrath to come, and whom He has given the promise of His Spirit in their hearts! Their inheritance cannot be affected by revolutions of kingdoms, or by changes in earthly possessions.
God tested His people by forbidding them to meddle with the rich countries of Moab and Ammon; and instead of those lands, He gave them possession of the country of the Amorites. If we keep ourselves away from what God forbids, we shall not lose by our obedience. The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof (Ps. 24:1), and He gives it to whomever He pleases. But although God assured the Israelites that the land would be their own, yet He commanded them to contend with the enemy. What God gives, we must endeavor to get.
Moses sent a message of peace to Sihon, king of Heshbon. Doubtless, it was by Divine direction that he thus acted, so that Sihon would be left inexcusable, even though God had hardened his heart. This illustrates the method of God’s dealing with those to whom He gives his Gospel, but does not give grace to believe it. Sihon began the war (verse 32); for God had made his heart obstinate (verse 30), and had hidden from his eyes the thing that belonged to his peace, so that He might deliver him into the hand of Israel. Those who meddle with the people of God are meddling to their own hurt. In this battle, the Lord made Israel victorious. They put all the Amorites to the sword – men, women, and children (verses 33, 34). This they did as the executioners of God’s wrath, for the measure of the Amorites’ iniquity was full (Gen. 15:16). They did not die as Israel’s enemies, but as sacrifices to Divine justice. In addition, the Israelites took possession of all that the Amorites had – their cities (verse 34), their goods (verse 35), and their land (verse 36).
The imagination can hardly conceive the feelings of Israel upon this great victory! They had journeyed so long in the wilderness, and been surrounded with fiery flying serpents; and now they entered into the possession of lands and houses full of goods! But while we are contemplating the mighty change of Israel in these things, let us not stop there! Let us look forward and imagine (if it is possible) what a surprise bursts in upon the soul of one who is newly escaped from both the wilderness of this world and the prison of a sinful body, when – being washed in the blood of Jesus, and regenerated by the Holy Spirit – the believer is introduced into the immediate presence and enjoyment of God and the Lamb! Well might the Apostle, under the thought of this, cry out, “Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither hath it entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him!” (1 Cor. 2:9)
Dearest King of Zion! As we behold the revolutions of empires, as they are recorded in this chapter; we cherish the thought (for it is a precious one) of the great happiness of our own lot, for we belong to a Kingdom which cannot be moved! Amen.
Join other families all around the globe! Receive the full-color, freely downloadable format of these thoughts in your email every day, and enjoy a FREE copy of my e-book A Call to Family Worship! It’s my prayer that you and your family will be equipped to receive abundant blessings from the hand of the Lord as you study His Word and worship in His presence together.
photo by Brightside Creative | Lightstock.com