-As the book of Numbers begins to wind down, we see a chronological listing, from their starting places, that Moses had composed of their wilderness journeys out from Egypt under the direction of God through him and Aaron (Numbers 33:1-2). They journeyed from Rameses in the first month on the fifteenth day on the next day after the Passover. They ventured “out boldly in the sight of all the Egyptians, while the Egyptians were burying all their firstborn whom the LORD had struck down among them. The LORD had also executed judgments on their gods (Numbers 33:3-4).” They camped at Succoth, then Etham, which is on the edge of the wilderness. From there, they turned back to Pi-hahiroth, which faces Baal-zehon, and camped before Migdol. Then they journeyed from before Hahiroth and “passed through the midst of the sea into the wilderness” going a three days’ journey into the wilderness of Etham and camped at a place named Marah (Marah- bitter, Exodus 15:23-26). Then they went to Elim where there were 12 good springs of water and 70 date palms and camped there (Numbers 33:5-9, Exodus 15:27). They then went and camped by the Red Sea, and after that they went into the wilderness of Sin. The journey took them from there to Dophkah, and from there Alush. After Alush, it was Rephidim, where there was no water to drink (Exodus 17:1-7). After that testing from and quarreling with God, they moved out towards the wilderness of Sinai and then on to Kibroth-hattaavah. From there it was Hazeroth, and then Rithmah, and then Rimmon-perez, and then Libnah, and then Rissah, and then Kehelathah, and then Mount Shepher, and then Haradah, and then Makheloth, and then Tahath, and then Terah, and then Mithkah, and then Hashmonah, and then Moseroth, and then Bene-jaakan, and then Hor-haggidgad, and then Jotbathah, and then Abronah, and then Ezion-geber (Numbers 33:10-35). Quite a journey of vast experiences, right? All in the wilderness and all designed to draw them closer and more dependent on their God. After this, they camped in the wilderness of Zin, that is, Kadesh. Later, they came to Mount Hor, “at the edge of the land of Edom.” It was here that Aaron went up to Mount Hor at the command of the LORD and died in the fortieth year after the sons of Israel had come out of the land of Egypt. He went up on the first day of the fifth month (the month of Ab on the Hebrew calendar). Aaron was 123 years old when he died on Mount Hor (Numbers 33:36-39). At that time the Canaanite, the king of Arad who lived in the Negev (south country of the Promised Land), heard that the sons of Israel were coming. This was a time of victory for Israel as they relied upon the LORD and destroyed the invading army (Numbers 21:1-4). From there in Mount Hor they went to Zalmonah and camped there. Then they journeyed around the land of Edom stopping at places like Punon, Oboth, and Iye-abarim, which was at the border of Moab. They then went out to camp at Dibon-gad, and then Almon-diblathaim, and then the mountains of Abarim before Nebo, which was just east of the Jordan at the north side of the Dead Sea. Finally, “They journeyed from the mountains of Abarim and camped in the plains of Moab by the Jordan opposite Jericho. They camped by the Jordan, from Beth-jeshimoth as far as Abel-shittim in the plains of Moab (Numbers 33:40-49).” The Promised Land was in sight and the conquest was coming!
-Then the LORD spoke to Moses near the end of his earthly life in the plains of Moab where they were camping opposite Jericho near the Jordan River. He said, "Speak to the sons of Israel and say to them, 'When you cross over the Jordan into the land of Canaan, then you shall drive out all the inhabitants of the land from before you, and destroy all their figured stones, and destroy all their molten images and demolish all their high places; and you shall take possession of the land and live in it, for I have given the land to you to possess it. You shall inherit the land by lot according to your families; to the larger you shall give more inheritance, and to the smaller you shall give less inheritance. Wherever the lot falls to anyone, that shall be his. You shall inherit according to the tribes of your fathers. But if you do not drive out the inhabitants of the land from before you, then it shall come about that those whom you let remain of them will become as pricks in your eyes and as thorns in your sides, and they will trouble you in the land in which you live. And as I plan to do to them, so I will do to you (Numbers 33:50-56).'"
-*Application* Certainly this prophecy and warning has come true through the centuries as the Israelites have had constant and unrelenting problems with those trying to co-habit in the Promised Land that Yahweh gave specifically to His chosen people for the salvation of the nations. Just this morning I read where Israelites were murdered by Palestinians who now declared war on them negating a peace treaty that has been in effect for some time. God knew the future and wanted the enemy eradicated so that a permanent peace could be established. Sometimes we have a hard time with this, since having a Christ-like mind includes wanting mercy over judgment. But, there are times when God, who is omniscient, foresees the terrible results of letting the enemy survive and thrive. We must follow God’s commands even when they may seem contradictory to His nature and goodness. This isn’t easy, but often it is necessary. It is the result of a fallen and marred world. Let us pray for those who make these kinds of decisions every day in defending our nation and its freedoms, abroad and at home. Also, lift up Israel in her time of trouble knowing that the sovereign LORD will always defend them and bless those who support her (Genesis 12:3).
Verses to Memorize: Numbers 33:51-53, 55-56