Scripture reading – Numbers 33
It is fitting that Numbers 33 begins with a look back at the providences of the LORD, and His compassion on the children of Israel during their forty years in the wilderness. Admittedly, the names of the places where Israel encamped seems belaboring; however, each place reminds me that God is sovereign, and He orders the stops and the starts of His people.
He had been with His chosen people from their exodus out of Egypt (33:3-7), and passage through the midst of the Red Sea (33:8), to their return to “the plains of Moab by Jordan near Jericho” (33:50). The LORD had miraculously provided water and food along the way, and proved He was a compassionate, and loving God (33:9-37).
Nearing their journey’s end, we are suddenly, and unceremoniously reminded: “Aaron the priest went up into mount Hor at the commandment of the LORD, and died there, in the fortieth year after the children of Israel were come out of the land of Egypt…[he] was an hundred and twenty and three years old when he died in mount Hor” (33:38).
Aaron’s death serves as a reminder that a whole generation had perished because they refused to trust the LORD, and enter into the land. With the exception of Joshua and Caleb, all who left Egypt, twenty years and older, had died short of their destination.
Now, the LORD had promised His people a fertile and fruitful land; however, it was inhabited by the Canaanites. To take possession of their inheritance, Israel would have to drive the inhabitants out of the land (33:52a). Israel was commanded to destroy all the ways of the Canaanites, including their idols, and the high places where they worshipped (33:52-53).
The land was to be divided by casting lots, and each family would receive their inheritance by the size of their families (33:54).
Numbers 33 closes with a warning: Should Israel not drive the Canaanites out of the land, they would become “pricks in [their] eyes, and thorns in [their] sides, and [the Canaanites would vex them] in the land wherein ye dwell” (33:55).
The LORD warned: If Israel failed to fulfill His command, and drive the Canaanites out of the land, He would do to them what He would have done to their enemies (33:56).
Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith