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Posts Tagged ‘mt pisgah’

Hills of Gilead, territory east of Jordan chosen by tribes of Reuben, Gad and Manasseh

As the Hebrews continued toward the border of their promised land they fought and subdued the people who occupied the land where they were traveling. As a result a large part of what is now Jordan became the territory of the tribes of Gad, Reuben and Manasseh. Moses allowed those tribes to have their inheritance there in exchange for their promise to assist the other tribes in subduing the occupants of the land on the other side (west) of the Jordan river.

Prior to their entering into the promised land Moses spent time teaching the people and giving the law. He wanted them to thrive in the land of their inheritance, and to do so they would have to obey God and adhere to his instructions. For, as they had seen, strict adherence to the Ten Commandments was the only thing that satisfied God. In Deuteronomy is recorded the word of God given to the Israelites before their entry into their land. Basically he told them they would be blessed if they obeyed God and they would be cursed if they didn’t. The word is quite extensive and specific. Here is some of it:

….if thou shalt hearken…. to do all his commandments….God will set thee on high above all nations of the earth:…Blessed shalt thou be in the city and blessed shalt thou be in the field. Blessed shall be the fruit of thy body…the fruit of thy ground;;;;the fruit of thy cattle…Blessed shalt thou be when thou comest in, and blessed shalt thou be when thou goest out. The Lord shall cause thine enemies…to be smitten before thy face: they shall come out against thee one way, and flee before thee seven ways……And the Lord shall make thee the head and not the tail….But it shall come to pass, if thou shall not hearken to the voice of the Lord thy God, that all these curses shall come upon thee, and overtake thee. Cursed shalt thou be in the field. Cursed shall be the fruit of thy body, and the fruit of thy land. Cursed shalt thou be when thou comest in, and cursed shall thou be when thou goest out. The Lord shall send upon thee cursing, vexation, and rebuke….The Lord shall make the pestilence cleave unto thee, until he have consumed thee from off the land….The Lord shall bring a nation against thee from far…..And he shall besiege thee in all thy gates…..and thou shalt eat the….. flesh of thy sons and of thy daughters…in the siege. (from Deuteronomy 28:1-53)

Friends, if you think this is gross, you need to know that it really came to pass eventually, for the Hebrews, the Israelites, the chosen people of God turned their backs on him. Their blessings went away and the curses came upon them, exactly as said.  Jeremiah records: They that be slain with the sword are better than they that be slain with hunger:….the hands of the pitiful women have sodden their own children: they were their meat in the destruction of the daughter of my people. (Lamentations 4:9-10)

Further, the Lord told them: And ye shall be left few in number, whereas you were as the stars of heaven for multitude….And the Lord shall scatter thee among all people…And among these nations shalt thou find no ease….(Deuteronomy 28: 62,64-65) And so it has been. The Jews have been scattered over the face of the planet, and continue to be persecuted. Anti Semitism is everywhere, even in the U.S.

But, God is not finished with his people the Hebrews: And the Lord shall scatter you among the nations. But if from thence thou shalt seek the Lord thy God, thou shalt find him…When thou art in tribulation, and all these things are come upon thee, even in the latter days, if thou turn to the Lord thy God…he will not forsake, neither destroy thee, nor forget the covenant of thy fathers which he sware unto them. (Deuteronomy 4:27,29-31)

Repentance was the key to restoring the Israelites to right relationship with God. It still is, not only for Israel, but for us who are not Israel. God is not mean, but his laws can not be set aside or ignored, for there are consequences for sin. He has provided the way for us all, through Jesus, to be forgiven and set on the right path, toward heaven, and not toward hell.

As the people drew near to Canaan, the promised land, the time came for Moses to die. The Bible tells us his eye was not dim, nor his strength abated. But God had already told him he would not go in, due to an incident in the wilderness where he had struck a rock for water instead of speaking to it as God had told him to do. Just one example of the immutability of the laws of God.

View From Mt. Nebo/Wikimedia Commons/Vyacheslav Argenberg

Moses’ brother Aaron and sister Miriam had already died. Joshua, one of the twelve original scouts who spied out the land of Canaan 40 years earlier had been named leader in Moses’ place. As God had said, only Joshua and Caleb remained of those twelve. God led Moses to the top of a high mountain (Nebo, Pisgah) where he could see the promised land stretched out before him, all the way to the Mediterranean sea. There he died and the Bible says God buried him in a nearby valley, but no one knows where.

After that God told Joshua to proceed into the promised land. They were encamped on the east side of the Jordan River. Just across the river lay the  Canaanite city of Jericho and their land. At this point you need to know that although God had promised to give the Hebrews the promised land, He did not mean it was to be handed to them on a silver platter. Indeed, they were to go in and take possession of it, by force.

Right away Joshua sent two spies into Jericho. Immediately they encountered Rahab, a harlot, who made them a bargain. She hid them from the officers of Jericho who, having discovered the two spies were in town, came seeking them. In exchange she extracted from the spies a promise that when the Hebrews attacked Jericho, she and her household would be saved. Rahab’s house was built into the city wall, and from a window of her house she let the spies down to the outside with a scarlet rope. She bound the scarlet rope in the window as a signal to the Israelites that her household was to be saved.

In a few days the children of Israel made ready to cross over Jordan. The Ark of the Covenant, borne by the priests, went before. As soon as the priests’ feet touched the waters of the river, the waters congealed into a heap and flowed no more until the last person had crossed over on dry ground. The first order of business after that was the circumcision of all the males who had not been circumcised. Those who had come out of Egypt were circumcised already, but those who were born after that had not been circumcised. Circumcision was a sign of God’s covenant with his people.

They celebrated Passover while camped at Gilgal in the plains of Jericho. The day after the Passover they ate corn from the promised land. Then, after forty years, the manna ceased and after that they ate the produce of the land of Canaan.

Next on the agenda was Jericho, their first battle in Canaan land. The city of Jericho was pretty impregnable. The walls were around six feet thick and somewhere between twelve and seventeen feet high. and at this point the gates are barred; no one is going in or out. What to do? The Angel of the Lord appeared to Joshua and gave him the strategy for defeating Jericho.

Once a day for six days the army of Israel in complete silence, with no one speaking a word, walked in a circle around Jericho, the priests bearing the Ark of the Covenant. The only sound to be heard was the fall of their feet and the wail of seven ram’s horns, blown by seven priests. Don’t you know the people in Jericho crouched in fear at the sound of those trumpets, and wondered what was going to happen next?

Old image in primitive style showing Jericho compassed by soldiers blowing horns, while Rahab lets the spies down from her window/Wikimedia Commons

On the seventh day they marched around the walls of Jericho, again in silence, not once, but six times and then one more. The people had been instructed that on the seventh go around they were to break their silence and shout when the priests began to blow the trumpets. And it came to pass, when the people heard the sound of the trumpet, and the people shouted with a great shout, that the wall fell down flat, so that the people went up into the city, every man straight before him, and they took the city. (Joshua 6:20)

Rahab the harlot, who bound the scarlet rope in her window, was saved, along with her entire family. You will find her in the lineage of King David and Jesus our Lord. Bible Gateway.com has an interesting article about her.

We have only scratched the surface of the marvelous story of God’s interactions with his people, the  descendants of Abraham. It is a never ending supernatural saga that will capture your heart and your interest once you begin to delve into the rich treasures so readily available to us today–the ages old scriptures, historical references, and current events. What God began with Abraham is coming to fruition right before our eyes. Pay attention.

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