Introduction: Welcome to Expound our verse by verse study of God's Word. Our goal is to expand your knowledge of the truth of God by explaining the Word of God in a way that is interactive, enjoyable, and congregational.
Skip Heitzig: Heavenly Father, thank you for the opportunity to set the week aside, to take a break in the middle of the week. Some of us have come from tiring days, days filled with worry or pain or future plans. Our minds have been elsewhere. And how good it is when brethren dwell together in unity, as the psalmist declared, and to push everything else aside, and to say for the next fifty minutes or so, my mind, my heart, my body, my very core is going to focus on the words of Scripture. Even if it were just reading through the Bible, there is great benefit in a church doing that, considering together the flow of your revelation in the pages of your Word.
So, help us, Lord, as we contemplate and get a grasp and go once again into the Old Testament as it prepares us for the new covenant. We appreciate more what we have in Christ when we think back to the days of Moses under the law. Help us to be aware, to be cognizant of your work presently in our lives, not just looking back, but considering now how these principles might alter or augment the way we think and do life, in Jesus' name, amen.
History has proven over and over again that truth and principle can either be forgotten or neglected. Truth and principle can either be forgotten or neglected. It happens incrementally, but, oh, it happens. It happens in institutions that start out one way but end up quite another way. Harvard University, when it started became the place to train men in the evangelical ministry to populate the Eastern Seaboard with ministers of the gospel. They had that as their aim. You couldn't find that anywhere on that campus today. They have gotten so far away---oh, incrementally. Over time they would look at something and address it, and go, "Well, that's not so relevant these days."
And then a little more, and a little more, until you have the liberal bastion of Harvard University today where you would be hard pressed to find very many professors who are sympathetic to the Christian gospel. So truth and principle can be forgotten or neglected over time. This is why my father would tell me the same things over and over and over and over and over---oh, and over again. I got so tired of hearing it. I could repeat it myself. I could have said, "Dad, stop. Let me finish this spiel for you." But I had too much respect to do that. But I gotta tell you, years after he is dead and gone, I remember what he said. So here in Deuteronomy we have all that we have learned so far in the Old Testament, especially in Exodus and Leviticus and Numbers. We have all that told to us again.
"Deuteronomy," from two Greek words from the Septuagint or Greek translation: deuteros, second; nomion, law. So the word from that translation means "the second law." Deuteronomy: the second law, the second giving of the law. Now, that doesn't mean that it is a repetition. It is not a repetition. Moses is not repeating himself. He's not repeating every single thing in those books or in the history of the nation up to this point, but he is recapping it. He is instructing with it. He is applying it. And why a second time? Well, for a very fundamental reason: first generation is dead. The whole generation, except for Joshua and Caleb, they've died in the wilderness. Moses, Joshua, and Caleb have outlived them all. They've been dead. Their carcasses were left in the desert, buried in the wilderness.
This is now the upstarts, the second generation, those who didn't die, the younger kids who weren't there, who just had certain things told to them by mom and dad and by relatives. Now Moses gathers the second generation just eastward of the Jordan River before entering the land and goes over some of those things again to the new generation lest they forget. And, by the way, that's one of the great themes of this book: "Beware," chapter 6, verse 12, "Beware, lest you forget" what the Lord has done. So lest they forget, lest they end up like Harvard University or many other institutions, Moses---who, by the way, is in this book 120 years old. It is the last few weeks of his life.
The book of Deuteronomy takes place in less than a single month as Moses gives three messages on the eastern side of the Jordan River in a little valley cross from Jericho. I was just in that valley a couple months back. And he gathers them there, and before they march into the land, he goes back over some of those principles in these farewell messages to this new generation. There is an outline to this book, and though there are many outlines, let me give you my own. It's very simple and I can divide the entire book up into three sections: a review of the past, that's chapters 1 through 4; the requirements for the present, that's chapters 5 through 26; and then a readiness for the future, that's chapter 27 through 34. So, a review of the past, requirements for the present, readiness for the future.
So, can you get a natural flow of the book of Deuteronomy? It's a story about what God has done in the past, what God is doing in the present, what God will do in the future. It is historical. It is legal. It is prophetical. Last few weeks of Moses' life. Think of it as a briefing to the next generation. Moses is giving a briefing of all of the history of that nation in the wilderness. Now, I know, you're thinking, "A briefing? This is thirty four stinking chapters. Hardly a brief." Well, it's sort of like a lawyer's brief. Have you ever seen one of those? Only a lawyer could call something that thick a "brief." And so, sorry to take a potshot at lawyers, but I've seen some pretty thick briefs. I remember looking at one guy's suitcase he was bringing into court and he had so much paper.
And he goes, "Oh, those are just a couple of briefs." I said, "I think you ought to change the name." But this is Moses' brief to this next generation. Verse 1, "These are the words"---by the way, the Hebrew Bible doesn't call this book Deuteronomy. The Hebrews call it Devarim. You're looking at me like, huh? Well, it's not any worse than Deuteronomy, right? In fact, it's easier to say. Devarim simply means "the words." You know why they called it that? Because those are the first few words of the book. They often did that. "These are Devarim"---"these are the words." So it's a book of the words, of Moses, the brief. "These are the words which Moses spoke to all Israel on this side of the Jordan"; that is, the east side of the Jordan. And if you're not sure where that is, in the back of your Bibles is a map.
And I will recommend that at some point in the study in Deuteronomy---maybe when you get home tonight---that you have your devotional time---or tomorrow morning---with the maps. I love studying the maps. I love getting my point of reference and location and miles and kilometers and elevations. It's helpful to me. So that little string of water that divides the land from north to south is called the Jordan River. Connected to it is the Sea of Galilee in the north, followed more by that ribbon of the Jordan River down to the Dead Sea where it ends in the south and is evaporated to some degree. So, that Jordan River, east of that, down south just above the Dead Sea is where they're encamped.
"These are the words . . ." there "on this side of the Jordan in the wilderness, in the plain opposite Suph, between Paran, Tophel, Laban, Hazeroth, and Dizahab. It is eleven days' journey from Horeb by way of Mount Seir to Kadesh Barnea." It didn't take them that long, though, did it? It didn't take them eleven days. From the point mentioned here, it took them 38 years, 40 years all total. "It came to pass in the fortieth year." You see the contrast? It's an "eleven days' journey," but, "in the fortieth year . . . ." Yeah, exactly. "In the eleventh month,"---so it's midwinter. It's January, February---"on the first day of the month, that Moses spoke to the children of Israel according to all that the Lord had given him as commandments to them."
It says it's an eleven day journey. What you should know is that when you read your Bibles, distance is usually computed by the time it takes to get from one place to another. It doesn't give it in miles, a Western mode of reckoning, or even kilometers, a European, Eastern, even Middle Eastern way. It doesn't do that, it just talks about how long it takes you. Now, that is sort of foreign here, but in big cities this is common. In big cities, like in Los Angeles, we use the biblical method. People would say, "So, so how far is it from my house to downtown LA?" And I'd say, "Oh, it's two hours." See, I didn't answer the question. They said, "How far is it?" I said, "It's two hours," because the biblical method is you reckon it by how long it takes you.
Now, if it was drive time, five in the afternoon, I would say, "Well, it's going to take you three and a half, four hours, at least." So in those days you traveled by foot. And that's about twenty miles a day. If you travel by camel, about thirty miles a day. Camels are cool. Have you ever ridden a camel? When we were in Jordan a couple months back, we had a camel ride down in Petra. And I've been in Egypt on camels and Israel on camels. But we were riding through this one area, and they're just fun. They're not particularly fast, but they're faster than walking. So, twenty miles, and thirty to thirty five miles per day on a camel. A caravan is about twenty, twenty five miles, sort of like on foot, but a little faster, because you carry with you victuals. You carry with you an infrastructure being able to eat and have snacks, etcetera.
You're moving with the caravan. So it's eleven days' journey. "But it came to pass in the fortieth year," and here is what we learn in looking back: they turned an eleven day march into a forty year meander. They went from marching, to meandering, and then to menacing. They went from marching to a destination, to wandering around the desert meandering from place to place over and over again, to menacing, to assaulting God himself, complaining against God's provision himself. That is their history and it will be brought up. Verse 4, "After he had killed Sihon, the king of the Amorites," which we have already covered in the past, "who dwelt in Heshbon, and Og the king of Bashan," which is a province up north on the eastern side, "who dwelt at Ashtaroth in Edrei. On this side of the Jordan in the land of Moab, Moses began to explain this law."
If I were to give to you a break down of just chapter 1, because I think it's helpful to outline the chapter, the first part of the chapter in this first farewell speech of Moses---remember the first farewell speech is the first few chapters. But in chapter 1, his first point is the sojourning from Mount Horeb. Now, do you know what Horeb is? Mount Sinai. Horeb is the mountain range. It's that whole region. It's called Horeb. One of the mountain peaks in the Horeb range is Sinai. So when you read "Horeb," technically Mount Horeb is right next to Mount Sinai. I have a picture of a tent on Mount Horeb in one of our offices upstairs. Just a little mountain peak next to a higher mountain peak, Sinai, but it's in that whole range. "On this side of the Jordan in the land of Moab, Moses began to explain this law."
So let me give you the outline of the chapter. Sojourning, that means traveling, sojourning from Mount Sinai, that's the first part of the chapter. The second part is sharing the load, the responsibilities that Moses had all to himself, which happened in Exodus 18. That's the first problem that came up that Moses had to come up with a new plan. So, sojourning from Mount Sinai, sharing the load. And then also in chapter 1, sending out the spies to look at the land, or the scouts. And then, finally, sinning against God. Those are the four things that Moses briefs the new generation on in chapter 1. "The Lord," verse 6, "The Lord our God spoke to us in Horeb," that's Sinai, "saying, 'You have dwelt long enough at this mountain.' "
Sometimes God has to say that to you. "You've been here long enough; time's up. You keep circling this mountain." He's going to say it a couple times in this book. You get into a routine, you get into what's comfortable, and the Lord has more for you, more territory for you to cover, more vistas for you to check out. But we get into our routine. And I've discovered something about us as humans: we hate it when our routine is upset. And sometimes the Lord, through whatever means, has to say, "You've hung out at this mountain long enough. Time to go. Time to move. Don't stay here." Now, you know, thirty eight years of one little place, you sort of get used to it. "Oh, I'm going to miss the sunsets at Sinai." Oh, wait till you see the new land. Much better.
So he says, as he's talking about the sojourn, "Turn and take your journey, and go to the mountains of the Amorites, to all the neighboring places in the plain, in the mountains, in the lowland, in the South"---that's an English word. The Hebrew's Negev. Have you ever heard of the Negev when you've watched the news in Israel? The Negev is the southern desert in Israel down toward the Sinai Desert. "And on the seacoast," that's the Mediterranean. Great spot. Good surf. "To the land of the Canaanites and to Lebanon as far as the great river, the River Euphrates." What I simply want you to make note of as Moses, 120 years young, is briefing the new kids on the block, the ones who are going to take over the land, their parents have all died, he lets them know the original boundaries of the Holy Land.
By the way, the boundaries of which never in their history have they enjoyed. It goes all the way from the south, which is present day Egypt; all the way to the north, which is present day Lebanon; all the way to the Euphrates River, which is present day Iraq. Now you know what's going on in the Middle East, right, and all the problems Israel's having with all of those neighbors? Can you imagine if Israel were to state, "Well, actually, God wants us to have Iraq as part of Israel, and Lebanon as part of Israel, and the top of Egypt as part of Israel." You can just imagine, that's World War III right there. But God promised that to them. God promised the Jews 300,000 square miles of land. That's a big---that's a big plot of ground for your house, 300,000 square miles.
In their zenith, at their peak, at their top under David and Solomon, they only occupied, when they expanded the boundaries to the utmost, 30,000 square miles. They only occupied one tenth of all that God promised them. Because, you see, a gift that is given to you has to be opened. If you just look at that gift and go, "It's just so pretty, I don't want to touch it. Don't want to open it. I'm going to keep it in the corner and I'm going to keep the Christmas tree up for twelve more months. I just like looking at it." You'll never enjoy it unless you open it up and use what's in that gift. So God gifted them a land, but they had to appropriate the land, walk through it, conquer it, take it, make it theirs, claim the promise of God. They never did that. They did it partly, but they didn't do it yet. They will do it in the future, by the way.
Eschatology, that's a whole nother subject. We won't go there now. They will at some point into the future. I pause on this point because I believe this is a familiar experience in your life. Paul the apostle said that "God has given to us great heavenly blessing, spiritual blessings in Christ Jesus, in heavenly places." Peter said, "All that pertains to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us by glory and virtue . . . therefore, add to your faith virtue, and to virtue knowledge, and to knowledge self control." You know the litany of that text. We covered it on Sunday mornings. But you get my drift. God has given you so much. I bet you haven't appropriated nearly enough. It's yours, but are you enjoying it? Are you experiencing it?
Do you ever ask yourself, "Is there something more for me to do to experience in the Lord, for his kingdom, for his glory?" Charles Haddon Spurgeon once wrote words that I remember reading when I was a brand new believer. He said, "Most Christians"---in fact, this was the first book I ever read as a Christian was Charles Haddon Spurgeon's book on prayer. And in one of his sermons in that book, he says, "Most Christians, as to the river of experience, have only waded up to their ankles. Others have gotten up to their knees in that river. A few have made it up to the breast. But a few---and oh, how few!---" said Spurgeon, "find it a river to swim in, whose depths they cannot touch." What's your experience with the Lord like? Ankle deep? Knee deep? Are you happy with that? Are you good with that?
Or are you ready to go, "I'm not good with that. I'm all in. I want to jump in that water, and if I drown, so what? It's I'd rather drown in God's blessing than anywhere else, any way else." Go on an adventure with God. Take him up at his word. Step out a little bit more. Maybe there's more land, more territory, more experiences for you to conquer. I love the idea of an adventure with God. So, " 'See, I have set the land before you,' " verse 8, " 'go in and possess the land which the Lord swore to your fathers---to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob---to give to them and their descendants after them.' And I spoke to you"---now they wouldn't have remembered that, because they were quite young and wouldn't have remembered the words Moses spoke.
So he's saying the collective "you." "You" being the children of Israel: you, your parents, all the ones that died, and the ones who are alive who were just babies at the time. "I spoke to you at that time, saying"---now he's moving from sojourning from Mount Sinai to sharing a burden that he felt. He's rehearsing a part of his own experience of leading the children of Israel. He's going to say, "You know what? This is not an easy gig being your leader all these years. And I couldn't do it alone. And I needed help." So he says, "I spoke to you at that time, saying: 'I alone am not able to bear you. And the Lord your God has multiplied you.' " You've grown since we started. " 'And here you are today, as the stars of heaven in multitude.' "
Does that ring a bell with some of you? Do some of your minds go back to Genesis 15 where God said, "Abram, go outside, look up. Look at those stars. Count them if you are able to number them. I am going to make your offspring more than what you could even look up and count with your naked eye. I'm going to multiply you." And so he says, " 'Here you are today, as the stars of heaven in multitude. And may the Lord God of your fathers make you a thousand times more numerous than you are,' " as he has. Not quite a thousand times, but I'll get into the stats another day. ---" and bless you as he promised you! How can I alone bear your problems, your burdens, your complaints? Choose wise, understanding, and knowledgeable men from among your tribes, and I will make them heads over you.'
"And you answered and said, 'The thing which you have told us to do is good.' And so I took the heads of your tribes, wise and knowledgeable men, and made them heads over you, leaders of thousands, leaders of hundreds, leaders of fifties, leaders of tens, and officers for your tribes." So, this is what happened, this is what I did, this is what you said. That's just rehearsing that whole sharing of the responsibility. I'll refresh your memory when this happened. Exodus, chapter 18. Don't have to turn there, but you can write it down if you're taking notes. Exodus 18 is where the threshold moment for Moses came. Jethro came to visit. Jethro was the father in law of Moses, his wife's dad.
Now, guys, you know what it's like when you have your father in law come to visit. You want to make a good impression. You want him know, "Look, I'm a good provider for your daughter. Look how I'm taking care of her. Look how important of a person I am." So it says in Exodus 18 that Moses was out there ministering to the children of Israel all day long, and he came home beat in the evening. He expected Jethro to go, "Moe, you are amazing, top drawer dude. I couldn't be more proud of you. My daughter's in great hands. You are a great guy and what you're doing is good." No. When Moses came home that night and his father in law was there, Jethro said, "Not good. The thing that you are doing is not good." And then he said this: "You are going to wear yourself out and you're going to wear the people out."
Moses had become a professional problem solver from morning till night. He had to listen to all the complaints, all the little problems of the people: "He snores and wakes up the neighbors in the tent next door." "She can't cook lamb very well; burns it every time." He had to listen to all this stuff day in and day out. And Jethro said, "Moses, this is not a good plan. You need help. You need somebody to shoulder the burden. One man, no matter how gifted, can bear ministry alone, and God never designed one person to be a one man show. He needs a team. "Moses, you need a team, man. You need helpers." And so these were selected leaders of thousands, hundreds, fifties, and tens. And so he took out of all the tribes these people.
Dwight Lyman Moody from Chicago, very practical and gifted evangelist, said this: "I would rather get a thousand men to do the work than to do the work of a thousand men." Now, that's just practical. Something about ministry---and I do love ministry. I love talking to people. Love praying for people. Love teaching people. Love planning. It's hard for me to go home. I love being around here. But I've discovered something about ministry: there's always more. There's always something else. There's always more to do. It's never done. And you can get into a trap thinking, "I need to do it myself," instead of, "I'm going to replicate and duplicate and train others up and release ministry into their hand." That's what Jethro was telling Moses to do, and even the people thought it was a good idea.
But notice, he said, "You pick them out of your tribe and I will release them into ministry." So the burden of ministry must be borne by many, but they must be carefully selected. They must be carefully selected. Let me read a parallel verse to you, couple of verses. You can just jot this down and look at it later. This is in a previous book, the book of Numbers. It's a corollary to Exodus 18 that I just referenced. "So the Lord said to Moses, 'Go and gather to me seventy men of the elders of Israel, whom you know to be elders of the people and officers over them; bring them to the tabernacle of meeting that they may stand with you. And then I will come down and talk with you there. And I will take of the Spirit that is upon you and I will put the same upon them; and they shall bear the burden of the people with you, that you may not bear it yourself alone.' "
Do you know what the corollary or the parallel of this principle is in the New Testament? Aah, somebody just said it. Acts. That's it, Acts, chapter 6. Sam is that always you or is that Jesse? Both of you guys. You guys are always coming up with it. You know these answers. You could come up here and teach this. It's Acts, chapter 6. You remember it says, "At that time the number of the disciples was multiplying." And so the disciples, the apostles had to get the people together, because the burdens were great. And he said---they said, "It's not desirable that we should leave the word of God and serve tables. Choose seven men from among you filled with wisdom, filled with the Holy Spirit. You choose them and with will appoint them over this ministry." And that helped solve the problem.
Here's the principle, never forget this: manage your life by what's important, not by what's urgent. Did you hear that? Manage your life, learn to manage your life by what's important, not by what's urgent. Early on, when I first started the church and I was newly married, and every urgent phone call was pulling at me, pulling at me, pulling at me, less and less time was spent with my wife and nurturing that newlywed relationship. Because "I'm doing the Lord's work. I'm solving problems. It's urgent," not knowing that I was creating a more urgent need at home. Soon I wouldn't just be listening to problems, I would become the problem. I had become the problem. And I found that the word "no," that little precious word is a spiritual word.
I've also learned a secret, and I guess I'm going to have to tell you the secret. You know, I've just sort of kept it a secret all this time. But sometimes people will say, "I've got to meet with you. It's urgent." And I will say, "I'd love to, but I have an appointment that I made a promise to keep with somebody else." Now when I tell them it's an appointment, usually people go, "Oh, okay. No problem. You made an appointment." If I tell them it's an appointment with my wife, they won't understand it. They won't. "Oh, well, you always have her." Not if I keep doing this. [laughter] So I've---now I've spilled the secret. I've learned to say, "Love to, but I have made an appointment, and I want to always honor that appointment." So cats out of the bag. [laughter]
By the way, have you ever thought how Jesus could say only after three years of ministry, three and a half years at best, three and a half years of public ministry, Jesus could say on the cross, "It is finished!" and before that he could say, "All that the father has given me to do I have done"? Now, I know how fast three years can go by. And I've been doing ministry, public ministry for thirty plus years. I can't say that. How could Jesus after three years say, "It's done"? Because there's a qualification---"All that the Father has given me to do I have done." Yes, he healed people, but there's a lot of people he left lame and blind and deaf. How do I know that? Because I read in the book of Acts some of those people that had been living in Jerusalem all of their lives get healed in Acts.
They weren't healed when Jesus was there the first time. So he didn't do it all. He did what the Father had told him to do. He lived day by day in the Father's will. "This is what God wants me to do. I can't do it all. This is what the Lord, specifically the Father, has for me." And that's a very important principle. It's the same principle: learn to manage your life what's important, not by what's urgent. There's a great little booklet on this, by the way, called The Tyranny of the Urgent. I commend it to every Christian. I have read it many, many, many times and I get refreshed every year, just about, by that little booklet Tyranny of the Urgent. It's worth the buck that it costs. It's worth hundreds times more that. And I left off in what verse? Sixteen. Just testing. [laughter] Just kidding.
"Then I commanded your judges at that time, saying, 'Hear the cases between your brethren, and judge righteously between a man and his brother or the stranger who is with him. You shall not show partiality in judgment; you shall hear the small as well as the great; you shall not be afraid in any man's presence.' " Don't let anybody intimidate you. " 'For the judgment is God's. The case that is too hard for you, bring it to me, and I will hear it.' " Now he got that advice from his father in law. Listen to your fathers in law. It can be a direct pipeline, sometimes, from God. So he copied almost verbatim what Jethro had told him to do.
" 'And I commanded you at that time all the things which you should do. So we departed from Horeb,' " verse 19, " 'and we went through all that great and terrible wilderness which you saw on the way to the mountains of the Amorites, and the Lord our God had commanded us---as the Lord our God had commanded us. Then we came to Kadesh Barnea.' " Quick refreshment: that was the staging area where they camped to spy out the land. And this brings us to the next little part of the outline of this chapter: sending out the scouts, the spies into the land. That's what he's going to rehearse with them. " 'So we came to Kadesh Barnea,' " the gateway to the Promised Land.
Verse 21, " 'Look, the Lord your God has set the land before you; go up and possess it, as the Lord God of your fathers has spoken to you; do not fear or be discouraged.' And every one of you came near to me and said, 'Let us send men before us, and let them search out the land for us, and bring back word to us by the way by which we should go up, and the cities in which we shall come.' " It makes sense, does it not? "Let's send out a group of people to see the nature of the land that God has promised, and the strengths as well as the weaknesses of the inhabitants of the land." However, though it sounds good, it sounds practical, it sounds pragmatic, it is nothing less than an act of fear and unbelief. "Bring back word to us." "Why?" "Well, we gotta spy out the land."
"Why? God spied out the land. Told you to go get it, go do it, walk through it, take it---it's yours." "Well, we want them---scouts, spies---to bring back word to us." "Why do you need their word? Isn't God's word good enough? You have God's word, you are more apt to listen to men's word." And they did. And they wandered for thirty eight more years because they did. That's why they---that's why they stayed meandering, because they didn't go. They paused. They sent out these emissaries. God knew the difficulties and God said, "Don't worry about it. Be courageous. Take it." But notice verse 23, Moses does admit to this, "The plan pleased me well, so I took twelve of your men, one man from each tribe." Now it is not going to please Joshua well when we get into the next book, whenever that will be.
In Joshua, instead of sending out twelve spies, since Joshua was one of the two spies of these twelve who came back with a good report, ten came back with a bad report. Only two, Joshua and Caleb, came back with the report of faith, saying, "Let's go. Let's take it. It's a good land. God is going to take care of those big giants. They're just big targets." So Joshua figured, "I'm not sending twelve. We don't need ten. Ten of them were bad dudes anyway. All we need is two good reports. And since I and Caleb gave the two good reports, let's send two spies into Jericho." And so they did. But, "The plan pleased me well, so I took twelve of your men, one from each tribe. And they departed and went into the mountains and came to the Valley of Eshcol, and spied it out.
"They also took some of the fruit of the land in their hands and brought it down to us; and they brought back word to us, saying, 'Here's a good land which the Lord our God is giving us.' " Duh! It's like so many meetings, you know the outcome before you go into it. You just have a meeting about what you already knew. "Well, we confirmed it. We just had a meeting. It's a good land." Yeah, I think God's been saying that for like---well, a whole long time now, hasn't he? "It's going to be a good land I'm giving you, land flowing with milk and honey." "It's a good land." 'Well, thank you for the report." "Nevertheless you would not go, but rebelled against the command of the Lord your God." Okay, they leave Kadesh Barnea, the staging area. They go north into the valley of Eshcol. And I've been in this valley.
"Eshcol" means cluster, so named because of the verdant landscape and the fruit that is in abundance. It's in a beautiful part of southern Judea, that area of the foothills. And "eshcol" means cluster. And if you recall, a couple of the men brought back a fruit sampling of the land and it was a cluster of grapes, an eshcol of grapes so big that it had to be suspended on a pole between two men. I hope that little picture gets in your mind, because to this day, when you take a tour with us to Israel, look at the Ministry of Tourism cars that go through Jerusalem. Now, we have a picture of it. You guys are on it. Do you notice what the symbol is? It's the symbol of Joshua and Caleb or two of these twelve spies bringing back an eshcol, a cluster of grapes. And that is to this day the symbol of the Ministry of Tourism of the nation of Israel.
But they wouldn't go up. They complained. See, from marching to meandering to menacing. They're complaining . . . "in your tents, saying, 'Because the Lord hates us, he's brought us out of the land of Egypt to deliver us into the hand of the Amorites, to destroy us. Where can we go up? Our brethren have discouraged our hearts, saying, "The people are greater and taller than we; cities are great and fortified up to heaven; moreover we have seen the sons the Anakim," ' " those special, tall dudes, NBA players, " ' "there." 'And I said to you, 'Do not be terrified nor afraid of them.' "And this is the last little four part outline of this chapter, the sinning that happens against God. "I said, 'Don't be afraid, don't be terrified. The Lord your God, who goes before you, he will fight for you.' "
I love the song we sing: "He, the Lord our God, he will fight for us." And that's what Moses said, "The Lord your God, he will fight for you, according to all that he did for you in Egypt before your eyes." "Look, look back, guys. You're saying, "We're going to die. God brought us out here to die.' How did you make it through the Red Sea? Were you guys sleeping when the Red Sea opened up for you and closed up for them? Do you not remember the great deliverance?" C. H. Mackintosh, one of my favorite Old Testament commentators on the Pentateuch, the first five books of Moses, C. H. Mackintosh said this: "Ten thousand mercies are forgotten in a single, trifling moment." There it is, here, whoosh! All God's mercies forgotten in a single, trifling moment. They panic. They get all emotional.
They hear the---"Well, the majority report is it's a bad place. Most of them said . . . We voted. Majority wins. We voted." Well, you're all wrong. Majority was wrong on that case. Only two had the eyes of faith. They should have taken it. Verse 31, " 'And in your wilderness where you saw the Lord your God carry you, as a man carries his son, in all the way that you went until you came to this place.' Yet, for all---yet, for all that, you did not believe the Lord your God, who went in the way before you to search out a place for you to pitch your tents, to show you the way you should go, in the fire by night and the cloud by day. And the Lord heard the sound of your words, and was angry, and took an oath, saying, 'Surely not one of these men of this evil generation shall see that good land which I swore to give to your fathers, except Caleb the son of Jephunneh shall see it.' "
You know "Caleb" means bold. Another translation: impetuous. Bold. Impetuous. Another translation: dog. I don't know which one he preferred. I'm guessing "bold." I don't think, "My name's Dog." It's sort of like "A Boy Named Sue," if you remember Johnny Cash. It'll toughen you up. "This is my buddy, Dog." Isn't there a guy on television named Dog? Yeah, yeah. Okay, won't go there. "The Lord was angry with me," verse 37. "The Lord was angry with me for your sakes." Before I get into this---I know, I'm watching the clock. This event, this event of them believing the ten spies and of not believing the two spies, this event of being at being at Kadesh Barnea and deciding not to go into the land, do you know what it will be immortalized as throughout the rest of Scripture? "The rebellion." "The rebellion."
It will often be looked back---even in the New Testament---"Don't do what they did in the rebellion." Even Psalm 95, here's a snippet of it: "The Lord is a great God above all gods, the King above all gods. Oh come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the Lord our Maker. For he is our God, and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand. Today, if you will hear his voice: 'Do not harden your hearts, as in the rebellion, as in the day of trial in the wilderness, when your fathers tested me; they tried me, though they saw my work. For forty years I was grieved with that generation, and said, "It is a people who go astray in their hearts, and they do not know my ways." So I swore in my wrath, "They shall not enter my rest." ' "
You want to know something? Those who are pardoned could still get hardened. Oh, they were pardoned. They went through the great deliverance from Egypt. Wonderful blood shed for them, and they became hardened. Those who are pardoned can still become hardened. I see it all the time. I think, "Guy, you're a crusty believer. [laughter] Man, you got a gnarly personality. Where's that faith and love and peace stuff hanging out at? What crevice is it at? Go dig that out and start using a little more of that stuff." Don't harden your hearts. The pardon should never become hardened. But they did. For thirty eight years they had settled for second best. God will bless his people within the limits placed on him by their sin. God will bless your life within the limits you place on God by your sin.
Remember what it says, Jesus went to a town and "He could do no mighty work there because of their unbelief." We can limit God's work by our own hardening. So that's called "the rebellion." I just wanted to place that somewhere here. " 'Except Caleb son of Jephunneh; he shall see it.' " And it will be Joshua's. We'll see that too. " 'And so him and his children I am giving the land on which he walked, because he wholly followed the Lord.' " Okay, Joshua and Caleb saw the giants and the fruit, saw the problems and the benefits. They saw---tell me if I'm right or wrong---those two men, Joshua and Caleb, saw exactly the same thing all the other ten saw. Right or wrong? Saw the same thing. They were all witnesses of it. They all saw the same thing, but they measured it differently.
You know what I mean by that? Two, Joshua and Caleb, measured the difficulties by the greatness of God. The ten measured the difficulties by the weakness of man. They saw the same thing, but they measured it differently: glass half full---glass half empty. "Those are big giants!" "Yeah, but we got a big God, a lot bigger than that. All that big guy is, is an easier target for me to hit." "Oh, no, but he's---lions and tigers and bears, oh my!" [laughter] Okay, have fun wandering. "And the Lord," verse 37, "was angry with me for your sakes, saying, 'Even you [Moses] shall not go in there.' " You know, Moses was humble. Did you know that? He was meek. Did you know that he is called in the Bible the humblest or the meekest man on the earth? Of course, he wrote that, by the way. [laughter] Just a little disclaimer there. [laughter]
Can you see him writing? "Oh, P.S. I am the humblest guy on the earth." [laughter] I gotta believe it's still by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, but. So Mr. Humble, Mr. Meek had a temper, had a seething temper. And he flew off the handle and misrepresented God and beat the rock the second time, saying---listen to this---"Must we bring water out of this rock?" Uh, "we"? You're not bringing water out of nothing, dude. All you're doing is tapping that little rock with a Popsicle. God can only---is the only one who could bring water out of a rock. "Must we . . . ." Hoo, you're like exalting yourself. So God said, "You know what? You misrepresented me. You can see the land; you can't enter into the land. You flew off the handle."
So, " 'Joshua the son of Nun, who stands before you, he shall go in there. Encourage him, for he shall cause Israel to inherit it. Moreover your little ones and your children, who you say will be victims, who today have no knowledge of good or evil"---he's rehearsing what happened when these second generation were just little kids---"they shall go in there; and to them I will give it, and they shall possess it. But as for you, turn and take your journey into the wilderness by the way of the Red Sea." The first generation used their children as an excuse for their disobedience. "Oh, we're just concerned about the safety of our children." What, and God isn't? "Well, our priority is our family first. We want to protect our children." Now, in saying that they were saying, "God doesn't take good care of our children."
So God said, "I heard that. And let me tell you something about your children, whom you're so worried about their safety: they're the ones that are going in the land. You'll all be dead. The ones you're worried about and you want to protect, I'm bringing them into the land. They're going to see it. They're going to experience it." "And then you answered and said to me, 'We have sinned against the Lord.' " Nice to have an awakening. A little bit too late. "'We will go up and fight just as the Lord our God commanded us.' "So they have second thoughts about it."And when everyone of you had girded on the weapons of war, you were ready to go up into the mountain. The Lord said to me, 'Tell them, "Do not go up or fight, for I am not among you; lest you be defeated before your enemies." '
"So I spoke to you; yet you would not listen, but rebelled against the command of the Lord, and presumptuously went up into the mountains. And the Amorites who dwelt in the mountains came out against you and chased you as bees do, and drove you back from Seir to Hormah. And you returned and wept before the Lord, but the Lord would not listen to your voice or give ear to you. So you remained in Kadesh many days, according to the days that you spent there."
Father, thank you for this first chapter of this fifth book in our Bibles, Deuteronomy. Thank you for the legacy of a man named Moses, as he stood there as a 120 year old veteran of wars, a man who had known Pharaoh's household, a man who grew up in Egypt, a man who went into the wilderness and was reshaped by God and then became a leader of these people, and so saw much and heard so much and suffered so much, not even getting into the land. We think, Father, of those who serve among us and pray that you'd strengthen them for the task you've called them to. Strengthen this congregation. May we inherit all the blessings that you have appointed for us individually and as a body, in Jesus' name, amen.
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