The journey from Kadesh to Mount Seir involved going through Seir which was the home of Esau's descendants, the Edomites. Esau was the brother of Jacob and sold his birthright and lost his blessing through Jacob's deception (Genesis 36:8-9). The Israelites were told not to fight them, and many commentators believe such a large number of people coming through this land would have depleted the water stores of the Edomites. Therefore, the Israelites were instructed to pay for everything in order to avoid a conflict. In Numbers 20:14-21, the Edomites refused to let the Israelites pass, and Moses wisely did not engage in conflict and went another way.
Moses described the trip northward through Moab. They were told not to do battle because God had not promised them that land. Remember that the Moabites were descendants of Lot, Abraham's nephew who lived in Sodom and Gomorrah and had to flee at its destruction (Genesis 19). They were also not to attack the Ammonites who were also descendants of Lot (Genesis 19:36-38).
The chapter concludes with a description of the defeat of the King of Sihon in Numbers 21:21-35. In Deuteronomy 2:34, the Hebrew word haram means "to give over [to the LORD] often for total destruction." This word is also used in 3:6, 7:2, and 20:17. We will talk more about the question of the morality of killing the total population - men, women, and children - when we read Deuteronomy 7. I know this is a tough thing for many of you, and I want to pray about it before I launch into something here. It is an important question to ask and deserves a prayerful response.
What really struck me today was that God had careful instructions for the Israelites. They were not free to conquer willy-nilly. They were not free to conquer the land of the Edomites, Moabites, and Ammonites. They could only conquer Canaan, and that is because He had a sovereign plan and purpose in the conquering. We will see this unfold over the coming months as we study Joshua.
I am also seeing a pattern of God's faithfulness to His covenant people despite Israel's failure and rebellion time after time. Despite all of these failures, God continued to provide every need and guided them:
For the LORD your God has blessed you in all the work of your hand. He knows your trudging through this great wilderness. These forty years the LORD your God has been with you; you have lacked nothing.(Deuteronomy 2:7, NKJ)My friend and I were just talking today about God being with us even in our wilderness experiences. He knows our trudging (love how the New King James words that). I am so grateful.
Take a look at that time-line again and highlight times where you can see God's fingerprint of faithfulness in your life, even in the "trudging" times. Then, respond in praise and worship!
You are a faithful God. We praise and worship You! We are so thankful for all the times You have guided us through the wilderness areas of our lives. Help us to NEVER forget those times of the past so that we might be able to face the future with faith. We pray this in Jesus' name. Amen.