Yesterday’s blog shared how when we read history it helps to know what happens before and what happens after our particular reading. This is especially true in today’s reading.
Specifically, lets take a look at Numbers 33:50 – 56. This comes immediately after the entire journey to the edge of the promised land is recited, site by site, landmark by landmark. It is time for one more reminder of what their journey was about.
50 While they were camped near the Jordan River on the plains of Moab opposite Jericho, the Lord said to Moses, 51 “Give the following instructions to the people of Israel: When you cross the Jordan River into the land of Canaan, 52 you must drive out all the people living there. You must destroy all their carved and molten images and demolish all their pagan shrines. 53 Take possession of the land and settle in it, because I have given it to you to occupy. 54 You must distribute the land among the clans by sacred lot and in proportion to their size. A larger portion of land will be allotted to each of the larger clans, and a smaller portion will be allotted to each of the smaller clans. The decision of the sacred lot is final. In this way, the portions of land will be divided among your ancestral tribes. 55 But if you fail to drive out the people who live in the land, those who remain will be like splinters in your eyes and thorns in your sides. They will harass you in the land where you live. 56 And I will do to you what I had planned to do to them.”
In summary the Israelites are told:
- They must get rid of all the foreign gods and idols
- They must drive out all the people living there
- They must take possession of the land and settle it
- Why? Because the Lord had given it to them.
- They must distribute the land in a just manner
- Warning!!!! – If they fail to follow these instruction there are consequences
The giving of the land of Canaan to the Israelites was a promise of God’s. They were his chosen people and He wanted to bless them with this promised land. He was their God and they were His people.
All the way back to our reading in the first week of January we have the promise of God to Abram that the land was to be given to them by God.
Genesis 12:1 – 5
1 The LORD had said to Abram, “Leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you.
2 “I will make you into a great nation
and I will bless you;
I will make your name great,
and you will be a blessing.
3 I will bless those who bless you,
and whoever curses you I will curse;
and all peoples on earth
will be blessed through you.”
4 So Abram left, as the LORD had told him; and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he set out from Haran. 5 He took his wife Sarai, his nephew Lot, all the possessions they had accumulated and the people they had acquired in Haran, and they set out for the land of Canaan, and they arrived there.
The promise was repeated to Jacob a week later in our reading…
Genesis 28:12 – 15
12 He had a dream in which he saw a stairway [d] resting on the earth, with its top reaching to heaven, and the angels of God were ascending and descending on it. 13 There above it [e] stood the LORD, and he said: “I am the LORD, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac. I will give you and your descendants the land on which you are lying. 14 Your descendants will be like the dust of the earth, and you will spread out to the west and to the east, to the north and to the south. All peoples on earth will be blessed through you and your offspring. 15 I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.”
And again in Exodus 23:20 – 33
Over the next few months we will find out how well the Israelites did in following these instructions. We will have to come back and take a look at the whole history.