Numbers 33 – God’s Faithfulness Compels Faithfulness

Some thoughts for meditation following our daily devotional Scripture reading that is provided each week.

God instructed Moses to record the various places Israel traveled from Egypt to the edge of the Jordan. Moses provides one date, the day they left Egypt, and with only three exceptions wrote simply the locations of their travel.

The first exception was Israel’s departure from Egypt. Israel did not sneak away, they left openly and orderly as a conquering army while the Egyptians were burying their first born whom the Lord killed. The Egyptian plagues not only enabled Israel’s departure from Egypt, but through them the Lord judged Egypt’s gods, showing them to be false and impotent.

The second incident addressed in Israel’s itinerary was Israel’s passage through the Red Sea which is simply noted: “They passed through the midst of the sea.”

The third noted event was Israel’s lack of water at Rephidim about a month after leaving Egypt. This also is simply noted: “There was no water for the people to drink.”

This is a review sketch of Israel’s starting and stopping points from Egypt to the Jordan. Exodus-Numbers fills in the historical details, and Deuteronomy also provides such a review but also delves into the why of their experiences (cf. Deut 8:3ff).

Following this travel itinerary the Lord through Moses gave Israel specific instructions to utterly destroy everything related to Canaanite people and religion. No Canaanites were to be allowed to remain; Deuteronomy specifies they were to be completely annihilated. God gives three reasons for this systematic destruction of every Canaanite and every aspect of Canaanite culture:

  1. The land was not theirs but the Lord’s, v. 53.
  2. Any remaining Canaanites Israel allowed to remain would continue to be a pain and problem to Israel, v. 55.
  3. As Israel cohabited with Canaanites they allowed to live, Israel would take on Canaanite depravity and idolatry, so that God would judge Israel just as he did the Canaanites, v. 56.

Note:

  1. Reviewing history should focus on God’s provision, direction, and protection to encourage faithfulness to him. God’s faithfulness compels faithfulness.
  2. There is only one God, and he is the Lord God of Israel, the God of the Christian Scriptures. All others are created by men and demonically empowered and directed. The Lord will be vindicated. “I am the Lord, that is my name, and my glory I will not give to another, nor my praise to graven images” (Isa 42:8).
  3. Human hearts, lives, and worship must be directed toward the Lord, and wholly characterized and controlled by his character and commands. He destroys what is not and is glorified only by what is.
  4. There can be no peaceful fraternity between the godless and the godly. 2 Cor 6:14-7:1; Eph 5:3-7; 1 John 5:21
  5. Compromise always disobeys and dishonors the Lord, corrupts true religion, and troubles the saints.
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