As we arrive at verse 50, the recorded itinerary of Numbers 33 reaches its final station: Abel-Shittim (meadow of the acacias, frequently called simply “Shittim,” a place on the east of Jordan, in the plain of Moab, nearly opposite Jericho.
It was the forty-second encampment of the Israelites, their last resting-place before they crossed the Jordan).
And, it was here where the Lord God gave Moses general instructions about just how the Israelites are to go about conquering Canaan.
In a nutshell, they are to drive all the people out who currently live there. Then Israel is to destroy all of their idols and idol worship paraphernalia. Wherever an altar, a temple or a high place to a pagan god has been built, it’s to be torn down.
To be clear: Canaan is to be emptied of its people. The Lord does not want them there anymore. The detestable religion of the Canaanites is to be overthrown and every remnant of it done away with.
The Lord has not ordered genocide, but it is understood that those who resist the Israelite takeover (soldiers in battle) or those who refuse to leave after the fight is won are to be killed.
Also inherent in the instruction (a long established God-principle) is that any who will forsake their false gods and join Israel are welcome to do so.
Under no circumstance are the Israelites to allow a foreign people or tribe to remain as a separate people, apart from Israel, nor can any god but Yehoveh be worshiped in the land of Canaan.
Please keep this set of instructions in mind from here forward: because what happens when we decide to modify God’s instructions because it seems more merciful or fair, loving or tolerant to our human politically-correct sensibilities is rebellion, plain and straightforward. And, the result WILL be a disaster.
Next, in verse 54, instructions are given on apportioning the land among the Israelite tribes. But, wait; hasn’t the Lord already given these same instructions? Yes and no.
In Numbers, chapter 26 the land apportionment was spoken of regarding taking a census of the tribes as a precursor to dividing up the land according to the size of each tribe.
But, that was when there were 12 tribes to divide the land among; now, there is but nine tribes plus 1/2 of the tribe of Manasseh. And, this because Reuben and Gad plus 1/2 of Manasseh received permission to settle on the east side of the Jordan River, and by doing so offered to give up any right to territory inside the Promised Land.
Chapter 33 ends with a dire warning (that wasn’t taken seriously by the way) from God to Israel that IF they did not follow His instructions, precisely, about the method used to take Canaan, bad things would follow.
Let’s read the last 2 verses of chapter 33:
But if you don’t drive out the inhabitants of the land from in front of you, then those you allow to remain will become like thorns in your eyes and stings in your sides — they will harass you in the land where you are living. And in this event, I will do to you what I intended to do to them. (Numbers 33:55-56 CJB)
Israel has NEVER heeded this warning; Joshua didn’t, David didn’t, not even the modern Israel that has returned to its homeland after a 1900-year exile has obeyed this divine directive. It still allows foreigners, not joined to Israel, to reside there. It allows pagan religions (particularly Islam) to exist alongside the worship of Yehoveh. It even gives its enemies positions in its governing body, the Knesset.
It allows and promotes atheism. It allows and promotes homosexuality. It allows and even defends Muslims controlling the Temple grounds of Yehoveh’s former dwelling place.
But, even worse, it gives away portions of the Promised Land to its enemies for unfulfilled promises of peace; land the Scriptures say it has utterly no right to dispose of because they don’t own it…the Lord owns it.
Until Israel stops these practices, secures the land as instructed, returns to the Lord and repents, there will always be wars, terrorists, and suicide bombings, and some group of people or another who devote their lives to making Israel miserable.
By the way, don’t anyone here shake your head knowingly at this and think, “How dumb can Israel be.” Because most of the problems in our individual lives…as members of God’s Kingdom, that entity that Paul refers to as the Israel of God or True Israel…are because WE do not secure our lives as instructed, we do not obey the Lord and repent, and so our lives are made miserable.
By the way: the land the Lord set apart for Israel; the land that Israel would soon conquer and possess at Joshua’s leadership is the West Bank. Does that name sound familiar? That’s right, the land that our current administration demands Israel give up to their enemies, the West Bank, is the very land that the Lord said was for Israel and Israel alone.
The Israelites have paid a terrible price for 3300 years for refusing to follow the Lord’s explicit instructions regarding that land and who is allowed to possess and dwell in it.
Do you suppose that those nations, like America, who insist that Israel continues to disregard those instructions are going to be spared God’s wrath? How about the approximately 50% of the Church that insists that Israel gives up its land because the Jews supposedly no longer have a right to it?
While researching for this blog post, I came across an interesting word in my bible called, “iconoclasm”. It was referenced to Numbers 33:52 and here is what I found.
I hope you have enjoyed today’s blog post and have learned some church history and what our part is now that we have learned some truth on what not to do. Please don’t forget to leave your comments below. Have a blessed day!