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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 seem belaboring; however, each site reminds me that God is sovereign and orders the stops and the starts of His people.

Israel’s Exodus out of Egypt (Numbers 33:3-8)

From their Egyptian exodus (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 journeyed with His chosen people. He miraculously provided water and food along the way, proving He was a compassionate, 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 served as a reminder that a whole generation perished because they refused to trust the LORD and enter the land. Except for Joshua and Caleb, of all who left Egypt, twenty years and older, they had died short of their destination.

A Command and A Warning (Numbers 33:50-56)

Now, the LORD promised Israel a fertile and fruitful land; however, it was inhabited by the Canaanites. Therefore, to take possession of their inheritance, Israel would have to drive the inhabitants out of the land (33:52a). The nation 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 was to receive their inheritance based on the numerical size of the family (33:54).

Closing thoughts:

Numbers 33 closed with a warning: Should Israel fail to drive the inhabitants out of the land, the Canaanites would become “pricks in [their] eyes, and thorns in [their] sides” (33:55). Therefore, the people would have no rest therein. If Israel failed to obey God’s command and drive the Canaanites out of the land, the LORD warned that He would do to them what He would have done to their enemies (33:56).

Questions to consider:

1) Who recorded the history of Israel’s journey in the wilderness? (Numbers 33:2)

2) What feast day commemorated Israel’s departure from Egypt? (Numbers 33:3)

3) How old was Aaron, the high priest, when he died? (Numbers 33:39)

4) What was Israel’s fate if the people failed to drive the Canaanites out of the land? (Numbers 33:55-56)

Copyright © 2023 – Travis D. Smith

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