Here we read of another country delivered into the hand of the Israelites. This was the country of Bashan, which was governed by King Og. The conquest of Sihon is often mentioned together with that of Og, to the praise of God; for in these two victories, Israel’s triumphs began (Ps. 135:11; 136:19, 20).
Og was a very formidable prince. He was very strong, and he was a giant (verse 11). His personal strength was extraordinary; a monument of it was preserved by the Ammonites in his bedstead, which was exhibited as a rarity in their chief city. We might guess at Og’s weight by the materials of his bedstead; it was iron, as if a frame of wood was too weak to support him. And we might guess at his stature by the dimensions of his bed, which was about 13½ feet (4.1 m) long and 6 feet (1.8 m) wide. He was likely double the height of an ordinary man, and yet Israel smote him (verse 3). When God pleads his people’s cause, He can deal with giants as if they were grasshoppers; no man’s might can secure him against the Almighty. The army of Og was very powerful as well; for he had the command of sixty fortified cities, besides the unwalled towns (verse 5). Yet all this was nothing before God’s people, when they came with a Divine commission to destroy him. O that every poor, timid believer would always remember the Lord’s Almighty strength, which is always engaged on the side of His people, and which is very frequently perfected in His people’s weakness! Take a moment to read the sweet passage of Scripture in Isaiah 41:14-16.
After the Lord had thus delivered Og and his kingdom into His people’s hands, they had possession of all of the fruitful country east of the Jordan River. Since Moses would not live to see the conquest of Canaan on the other side of the Jordan, God permitted him to see a foretaste of it in these victories over Sihon and Og. This country which had formerly belonged to these two kings was given to the Reubenites, the Gadites, and half the tribe of Manasseh (Num. 32). Moses here repeated the condition of this land grant, to which these tribes had agreed – namely, that they would send a strong detachment of armed men over the Jordan River to assist their brethren in the conquest of Canaan, and they would not return to settle in their possession until the rest of the Israelites were settled in their inheritance. We are hereby taught to not look at our own matters only, but also at the needs of others (Phil. 2:4).When we are at rest, we should desire to see our brothers and sisters at rest as well; and we should be ready to do what we can to help them toward that goal.
Moses gave encouragement to Joshua, who had been appointed to succeed him; for those who are aged and experienced in the service of God should do all that they can to strengthen the hands of those who are younger and setting out in the walk of faith. Moses reminded Joshua to consider what God had already done, for He certainly finishes what He begins; and he also encouraged him to consider what God had promised, for He had said that He Himself would be the one fighting for His people. And if God is for us, who can be against us? Let us not fear, for we reproach our Leader if we follow Him trembling!
What a delightful view is given us – in this charge of Moses to Joshua – of the zeal of this man of God, and his affection for the Lord’s cause! One of the sweetest offices of the Holy Spirit is to act as the “Remembrancer” of Jesus (John 14:26). And when He graciously performs this office by reminding the believer how the Lord has sustained and comforted His people in times past, He takes the most effectual method for giving us confidence for all that is to come.
Moses had prayed that if it was in harmony with God’s will, He would allow him to cross over the Jordan River into Canaan with the rest of the people of Israel. We should never allow any desires to remain in our hearts if we cannot, in faith, offer them up to the Lord by prayer. And if He does not, by His Providence, give us what we desire; yet it is just as good or better if, by His grace, He makes us content. Let it suffice us to have God for our Father, and heaven for our inheritance, even though we may not have everything that we wish for in this world.
God promised Moses a view of Canaan from the top of Mount Pisgah. Although he would not be permitted to see the people possess the land, he would still have a glimpse of it from a distance, which would yield him true satisfaction. Even great believers, in this present world, can only see the Promised Land of heaven at a distance. The Lord also provided Moses with a successor, who would carry on to completion that great work of bringing Israel into Canaan, which Moses was so much concerned for. It is a comfort to the friends of the Church to see the Lord’s work being carried on by others, when they themselves are about to pass on to glory. And if we have the pledge and prospect of heaven, let these suffice us!
Moses, as the law-deliverer to the Church, could not be permitted to bring the people into Canaan; for the law makes nothing perfect. But the bringing in of a better hope did (Heb. 7:19); and therefore, Joshua stood as a picture of the Lord Jesus, Who is the only One Who can bring His Church home to glory!
Lord, thank You for reminding us that giants are only dwarfs when You fight the battles of Your people. Help us go forth in Your strength alone, and then we shall be more than conquerors through our Savior Who loves us! Amen.
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