Deuteronomy Lesson 9
Settling Transjordan; Joshua’s Commission & Moses’ Exclusion from the Land
05 January 2010
© Charles A. Clough 2010
Just to review, on your handout the first part of that goes up to the kind of theology, the practical theology of where we’re at in this series, and that is that when we fail a test and you’ll notice those four verses, they’re very well-known verses in the New Testament, 1 Corinthians 10:13, Romans 8:28, 1 Thessalonians 5:18, Philippians 4:6-7, that passage in 1 Corinthians 10 theologically comes out of the text that we’re looking at, that is, the failure of the first generation of Israelites coming out of Egypt, and the failure at Kadesh-Barnea. And then Paul argues in that, that first step is “there has no testing taken us but such as is common to man, but God is faithful, who will not allow us to be tested above that which we are able.” So 1 Corinthians 10:13 is a wonderful filter guarantee that tests and trials that come into our life are not going to be overwhelmingly above the assets that God has given us to meet those tests. And the Kadesh-Barnea, first generation, is the historical illustration of that. That generation could have conquered the land but they were scared and they did not appropriate the promises that God gave them.
And of course, Romans 8:28 we know that, and the other, 1 Thessalonians 5:18, the theology of thanksgiving versus the theology of murmuring and complaining. So all of those depict the practical everyday kind of truth manifestation that we see in this history that we are looking at. The history may be three thousand years old but the spiritual principles are very contemporary.
Now on the outline you’ll see where we want to review Moses’ argument. When you study a book of the Bible one of the things that you want to come away with isn’t just a set of verses but you want to come away with a sense of the fact that this book, or this letter, was written for a purpose and there’s an argument, there’s a rationale behind it. Christianity is a cognitive religion and that you think your way in it. It doesn’t mean it’s built on rationalism; it’s built on revelation. The revelation is the revelation of a rational mind, namely God’s mind; God is 100% rational. So when He speaks to us He speaks to us rationally and He has arguments and persuasive approaches.
So in Deuteronomy 1:6-4:4, the whole large chunk of text that we’re looking at is Moses’ first exposition. This is where he’s going to address a generation that is new. They have grown up in homes with fathers and mothers who basically failed at a critical point in their lives. So that first generation was largely a disaster generation. And so what Moses has to do in his expositions is overcome the spiritual debris of a failed test, because even though the first generation failed that test doesn’t mean the test has gone away. God is going to give the same test to the second generation that the first generation failed to meet. So Moses has to reequip and I think in the last couple of lessons I used the illustration of Robert E. Lee and the military situation. After Gettysburg he had to pull together the army of the south and save it, and it was one of the most memorable military retreats in history, to be able to preserve what he had left and to be able to use it another day. That takes a lot of skill because you’re dealing with a defeatism, you’re dealing with sorrow, you’re dealing with tragedy, you’re dealing with a total reverse, and to be able to pull out and recover from that kind of a disaster takes great people. And so Moses is dealing with that in this whole thing.
Next you’ll see in the outline, Deuteronomy 1:6-3:29, which is going to be where we’re going to end up tonight. We’re going to finish that section, from 1:6-3:29. And just to review, remember the first, chapter 1, we dealt with Sinai to Kadesh, and then from Kadesh and the wasted years, that dealt with that first generation, the first test. Then in 2:1-23 he had to maneuver the second generation’s march toward the land, he had to maneuver around these nations. And he had to maneuver around Edom, he had to move around Ammon and Moab, and we’ll mention that in a little bit. And then in 2:24-3:11, there he got involved in holy war because there were two nations that did not want him to go through and even though he offered a gracious passage. So now that gives you the big idea where we’re headed.
So tonight we’re looking at those last two sections, 3:12, so if you’ll turn there, Deuteronomy 3:12, we’ll pick up the text right there and we’ll finish down toward the end of chapter 3. In this passage we’re dealing with two areas, in verse 12 and verse 22 we’re dealing with the settlements, and we’re going to deal with some doctrine that comes out of this, that’s fundamental in Old Testament thinking and has an application for us today: Settling Transjordan & Joshua’s commission. And then the final few verses, the tragic end of Moses, in the sense that here was this great leader, but he was a member of the first generation, and God absolutely refused to allow Moses to come into the land. And it’s quite an abruptness to God’s conversation with Moses, which we’ll explore tonight.
So what’s the force of the argument? The whole force of this argument that Moses is making is that God has been faithful and you people, he’s talking to the second generation, you people need to know your history, you need to know what your parents when through, you need to know the provisions of God, you need to think back to your lives in the past so that you can retrieve the evidence that God has been faithful, whether we have or not He is faithful. It’s almost like he’s asking these people to do a journal of their Christian life, and that’s something that sometimes you might do in your Bible, or maybe you have a book, a devotional book that you like to read, to jot down things as they happen in your life and you’d be surprised, go back there three or four years later and you will have forgotten some of these things that you wrote down, and you’ll say oh, yeah, God did that. Journaling in that sense is a positive help for your faith.
Now we want to look at Deuteronomy 3:12 and if you look carefully at verse 12, “And this land, which we possessed at that time, from Aroer, which is by the River Arnon, and half the mountains of Gilead and its cities, I gave to the Reubenites and the Gadites.” Now as he starts … okay, Abraham’s family tree. This is one of those little details of Scripture, you want to pay attention to it because you can read it and never even see it in the text until you read carefully, and that is, what was going on, and the little box there under 3:12 in the handout, you’ll see: “Yahweh’s orders” and the “Covenant Rationale.” God, in 2:5, remember He said go toward Edom, ask for safe passage, guarantee to Edom that you’re not going to leave junk all over the land, you’re going to be able to go through that land and you’ll take care of things, you’ll buy, you know, do commerce and stuff, you’re not asking for freebies, you want passage, safe passage. And Edom refused. But Moses was not permitted to charge through Edom because Edom is part of Esau and he’s part of the family, the Abrahamic family, and God had granted Esau that land. So, hands off.
Then he does the same thing with Moab, and Moab refused, and so he went around Moab, and the same with Ammon. Now in Deuteronomy 2:31 he comes to Sihon. Now we’re coming up to the Gentile non-Abrahamic culture, not any immediate relations to Abraham, and you’ll notice that in this case, as we saw last time, they refused passage, just like the other three, but this time God ordered holy war; you are ordered to move through their country. If they oppose you, destroy them. And they did the same thing to Og. So that got us last time into holy war, and a very contemporary topic with the Islamic Jihad, so we want to say a few things about holy war and then show why God keeps this holy war mentality in the Scriptures, because it’s not just in the holy war texts of Deuteronomy or Numbers, but the attitude of the holy war is seen in the imprecatory psalms.
In fact, most of us probably haven’t realized that every time we say the Lord’s prayer we’re actually praying an imprecatory psalm. There’s a little clause in the Lord’s prayer, “Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven,” now you might not have realized that but what you were asking for is holy war in the sense of being in position, by force if necessary, of God onto the human race, “Thy Kingdom come,” and we know from the book of Revelation what it looks like when “Thy Kingdom comes.” It doesn’t come placidly, it doesn’t come with calmness, it doesn’t come through political invitation; it comes in a violent way. So it’s inescapable, it’s built into the Scriptures, whereas Islam tends to make a counterfeit version of it, we nevertheless have to deal with this. And we need to think this through because perceptive unbelievers will challenge you about this—well, you Christians have holy war in your Bible.
Last time I gave you five or eight points about holy war, this time I want to kind of review some of those but do it under the mode of asking two questions. So the first question that is in your handout is: What is the justification for holy war? Is there an ethical justification for it; that’s the bottom line, because it exists. And the answer, as we saw last time, and that’s the next slide, was this from Dr. Meredith Kline, which I thought was the clearest exposition that I have seen in a succinct fashion. Dr. Kline taught Old Testament theology for many years at Westminster Seminary. And whereas we would differ with Dr. Kline in the sense that he is an amillennialist, I believe, not a premillennialist, nevertheless, he has an accurate depiction of what holy war is about.
If you remember this quote he argues that if you are going to use the ethical standard of common grace holy war is wrong because common grace, by definition is common, it’s grace to both believer and unbeliever, to just and unjust. Every time it rains we can thank God that He sends His rain on the just and unjust alike, He sends His sunlight on the just and unjust alike, that’s common grace, common to all men, sinners or not, righteous or not. So judged by that standard holy war is bad; holy war does violate that standard.
But the question is, that is the standards of common grace; now grace is a privilege that is extended to a fallen entity, the human race. God is not obligated to extend grace to sinners. Now if you want a case in point to prove that, what did He do to the fallen angels? Fallen angels are never given grace; no grace has ever been given to Satan. God’s justice is perfectly intact whether He offers grace or not; it just turns out, thankfully, we are members of the human race, that when we sin we have grace offered to us. Angelic beings don’t. This is why, I’m sure, the fallen powers hate us because every time they look upon us we remind them of what they don’t have. They’ve never had an opportunity to repent and be saved. So it’s sobering to think this through a little bit because see, we take grace for granted, that because God has been gracious, therefore He always will be gracious, therefore He ought to be gracious. Not necessarily; He does not have to be gracious.
So, at the end of history God is going to stop grace; that’s what judgment is about. One day there won’t be any more grace. Grace is a temporary entity, or temporary mode of operation in history that is not going to be forever and ever; it is one day going to be ended, and that’s judgment. And then those who have rejected grace go to hell, go to the Lake of Fire, and that’s justice; we deal with a holy righteous God and He is not ever going to compromise His integrity. He didn’t to get us salvation, He went through the whole details of His Son bringing atonement, the salvation we have is not an infringement upon God’s holiness, it is compatible with that holiness and that’s why there is only one way to be saved. God doesn’t arbitrarily forgive because He feels sorry for us; for Him to arbitrarily forgive somebody, as in the case of Allah, or the case of other gods, that forgiveness is arbitrary and what it ultimately means is gods who arbitrarily forgive lose their integrity. A god cannot maintain his integrity and forgive unless there’s a just basis for his forgiveness. So this is basic to the gospel.
So what is the justification? It’s the end of grace. And under that I’ve got five little points to make that help us to think this through. Divine justice existed from all eternity. It always has existed, always will exist; divine justice hasn’t changed. Second, divine justice is exercised in the judgment of Satan, both in the Garden and in the book of Revelation you see this. The Lake of Fire, now if you’ll hold the place in Deuteronomy for a moment and let’s turn to Matthew 25 for the fine print. In Matthew 25 there’s one little clause there in the text, but Jesus said this; He said this at the Olivet Discourse as He was saying what the end of history is going to be like. And in Matthew 25:41 He says, “Then He will say to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire,” now notice this phrase, “prepared for the devil and his angels.” It doesn’t say it was prepared for man, it says it was prepared for the devil and his angels, those are people who have never been offered grace; they wind up in everlasting fire because of rebellion. The everlasting fire is the manifestation of God’s justice, and they wind up there because of that. Now mankind joins that when we join the angelic beings in rebelling, and we rebel in two ways: we rebel against God, but then we also reject the invitation to be saved through the Lord Jesus Christ. So we share, but the “everlasting fire,” it says very clearly here in the text, “was prepared for the devil and his angels.” It doesn’t say it was prepared for man; it’s sort of like man gets there because he chooses to go along with Satan.
So that’s the fourth thing, horribly man joins Satan’s destiny when he rejects divine grace in Christ. Then finally, holy war in the conquest period was against a population. Notice “a population,” it was specifically limited to a particular population; holy was not promiscuous, holy war was not ubiquitous, it was not to everybody, it was to a defined group of people and they are the descendants of Canaan. And in Genesis 15:16 that was where Abraham said in four generations these peoples will be so demonically empowered, have such power and such all-encompassing evil in their culture that they’re dangerous, they’re a cancer to the human race and they need to be surgically removed. So that’s the case, it’s a special case in history. Now it turns out that the peoples of Genesis 15:16 happen to be the descendants of Canaan who, in Genesis 9:20, was cursed by Noah. So it’s as though Canaan bred this race that went capluey. So, that’s a little bit of the justification for this.
Now what is the relevance for the Christian? This is not just a problem in Old Testament theology, but this carries over into the New Testament. So let’s look a little bit at this. The answer is that the holy war principle continues but with the ultimate targets in mind, Satan and his demonic hordes, not their human puppets. This is why Paul says, “we wrestle not with” what? “Flesh and blood,” but we do wrestle with “principalities and powers.” So there is a holy war going on and we are in opposition to personal beings who have as their objective to stave off their judgment as long as they possibly can and to take down as many people as they possibly can. You talk about suicide bombers, I mean, the principalities and powers are ultimate examples of determined destroyers. And this is why it behooves us as believers to stay close to the Lord and look carefully at His Word because we’re fighting an enemy that we don’t even see; all we see of the demonic powers are deceptions and we can’t even tell the deception, can we, unless we measure it by something. And what is the standard we use to measure it, to find out whether something’s deceptive or not? It’s the Word of God. So we have to be careful as believers that we don’t walk around in a battle zone disarmed. This is why the Word of God is so important to understand it, because we are being shot at. This is why Peter warns us, he says Satan walks around like a what? A roaring lion. He’s not a little pussy cat; he’s a roaring lion; he’s out for meat. And the idea is that we’re the sheep and we’re the meat that he’s after. So it’s a picture of we live in a threat condition because we live in a fallen world and there are real demonic powers operating all around us all the time.
Now under point B: What is the relevance for the Christian, holy war is Jehovah’s war, Yahweh’s war. That’s very clear in the Old Testament, it wasn’t Moses’ war, it wasn’t Israel’s war, it wasn’t Joshua’s war. Later in the book of Joshua there’s that famous scene in Joshua 6, I believe, where Joshua is doing a recon of Jericho and suddenly he meets the Commander, which is the preincarnate Jesus Christ. And all of a sudden he is saluting the Lord and the Lord takes over, it is the Lord Jesus Christ in His preincarnate form, Yahweh warrior, who is the Commander in Chief, because it is His war, not the war of the Jews, it is the war of Yahweh and He’s using Jews but it’s not their war. And that’s why, whenever you have a group of people, such as in Islam it’s Mohammed, who try to mimic this, who try to counterfeit a holy war, they don’t understand that you don’t get holy war until you first terminate grace. And Mohammed really never understood grace to start with. So it’s all screwed up. What, in one sense to be as open-minded as possible, holy war is about is solving the evil problem. But the tragedy is when you look at religion and it tries to do these holy war things, they’ve misdiagnosed the problem. They want to in some amorphous way get rid of evil but they really don’t understand evil, and how that’s gotten rid of. So these are all counterfeits to the real thing.
Now we continue to fight against the principalities and powers so we have to beware of their strategy and tactics, all of which center upon our thoughts and our emotional life. That’s where the battle is. Yes, it can be physical, it can be disease, it can be things that happen, Job is a good example of economic disaster, but ultimately it’s a battle for our mind because the principalities and powers want to thwart you and me from worshipping God. And they will do anything they can to cut off, to persuade, to distract, to deceive us from worshipping our Lord. And they have a thousand different ways of doing it; that’s why Scripture is so necessary so we can guard our mind.
So let’s go back to Deuteronomy 3:12 and we’ll see what the history is. If we can have the next slide, I think it’s a map. This won’t show up very well but the Transjordan is this whole area east of the Dead Sea, going all the way up. There’s the Sea of Galilee, and beyond that up where you see Dan is Mount Hermon. This is Transjordan, because this is the Jordan River, “Trans” is the other side of Jordan, across the Jordan. This was not part of the original land promise; it became added to the land because there were these two guys here, Sihon up here and further north Og, who refused passage, and that’s when God authorized a little extra chapter here and Moses moved up this area and took out Transjordan, both of these kings.
Up there just northeast of the Sea of Galilee you’ll see a mountain range; that mountain range plays, in our present history, it’s known as the Golan Heights. And it’s there where Syria put artillery installations prior to 1967 and they would fire artillery down off the top of those mountains across the Sea of Galilee into the Jewish farmlands. And it’s a great place, I mean, you set artillery pieces up there and you can blast the whole northern end of Israel. So when you hear in the negotiations on the news about gee, I wonder why Israel doesn’t want to give up the Golan Heights, they don’t want to because if they did they’ve given up the high ground. They didn’t have the Golan Heights originally; they had to take the Golan Heights to prevent their farmlands from being blasted by the artillery being set up on the Golan Heights.
Okay, in Deuteronomy 3:12, “And this land, which we possessed at that time.” Now just a point of observation of the text, we’re dealing demonstrative pronouns here, and there are two in this sentence; one is a demonstrative near and the other is a remote, “And this land …” dot, dot, dot, dot, dot, “at that time.” Now think about a demonstrative pronoun for a minute. A demonstrative pronoun looks out at reality from the standpoint of the speaker. So where you have something near, “this land,” it’s where Moses is talking; Moses actually, we think, Deuteronomy, it’s being written while Moses is in this area. So he’s talking, he’s motioning, this land, so he’s there, back at that time, he’s not there anymore, that’s the past. So that’s why these demonstrative pronouns are useful. He says, “I gave it to the Reubenites and the Gadites,” and then in verse 13, “I have it to half the tribe of Manasseh,” now that’s two and a half tribes out of twelve. That’s one-fifth of the nation now has been given their inheritance.
Now in verses 18-20 he then gives the command to those two and a half tribes that already have received their land and then he tells them to do something. “Then I commanded you at that time, saying: ‘The LORD your God has given you this land to possess. All you men of valor shall cross over armed before your brethren, the children of Israel.  But your wives, your little ones, your livestock (I know that you have much livestock) shall stay in your cities which I have given you,  Until the LORD has given rest to your brethren as He did to you and they also possess the land which the LORD your God is giving them beyond the Jordan. Then each of you may return to his possession which I have given you.’ ”
So far, he’s saying you guys got your possession; now leave your wives here, get your farmlands started, but then you owe your brethren help. There’s a unity to the nation that later on fell apart. From the very start Israel was to be a unified nation, the twelve tribes; they were to share one another’s burdens. And this is a plea, by Moses, for those two and a half tribes, not to be selfish, they got their land but not to be selfish, come on, help, you owe your brethren; they fought with you for your land, you come and you fight with them for their land. It’s very simple, very straightforward. But the emphasis seems to be on the possession. Notice how in verse 18 the emphasis is possession; verse 20 that ends this paragraph, the emphasis is on possession.
So we’re going to look at the text, we’re going to have to ask ourselves this issue of inheritance, land and possession. Now, as I said when I started the book of Deuteronomy, we’re going to get into every area of life. And tonight we’re going to get into the issue of what does ownership mean? What does inheritance mean? What does a capital asset mean? Because all of that is involved in the issue of the land. So instead of just going across this as a nice little Bible story and they all get their land and they were happy ever after, we’re going to have to ask some questions here because these were real people, they had real families, they had to raise money, they had to run their families, they had an economy and they had to build a culture and a civilization. And you can’t build a civilization on emotions, on hot air; you’ve got to have substance. So land becomes substance.
So let’s think about land. Land, why is the emphasis, and in the handout I’ve got a little section there, why the emphasis upon inheritance of land—especially notice in association with possession of the land is the word “rest,” a rest. Land was granted to tribal male led families. We’ll have to get into the gender issue later in the book of Deuteronomy. But right now title was given directly by God to these tribes and the families in the tribes. These were land grants, which introduces us to the biblical doctrine of private property. Now in an agrarian economy, what is land, economically speaking? It’s your capital asset; it’s how you start your business, because it’s the land where you grow the grain to feed your cattle, it’s the area of pasturage, so the land is the capitalization of the whole social order here. When they inherit the land, that’s their starting economy. You can’t have a business if you don’t have capital. That’s what’s wrong with half the politicians, they think somehow jobs are created, and then they wonder why jobs aren’t created; well, the jobs aren’t created if the businessman can’t have business and the business man can’t have a business and hire people unless he has capital. You’ve got to start with capital. Think of it this way; giving of the land is the capitalization of the economy of Israel, and God is giving this.
So capitalization was for economic production and financial freedom, but Israel had a little zinger to the way they handled capital assets, and it’s an intriguing thing, because you may say how is economy, how is economics tied in with salvation? I’ll tell you; every area of creation has been deliberately designed to teach us something about our relationship with God. And economics is used again and again in Scripture. Think of the New Testament—imputation. Imputation is from economics in business, it’s an accounting term. Now why do you suppose that God uses the doctrine of imputation, which borrows from the economic transactions that were going on in accounting, to depict salvation? Well it’s the other way around, God designed economics so that we are involved daily in an economic mode and if we will have the eyes to see, those economic modes are talking about our relationship with God. They’re not arbitrary; they’re not separate from our salvation experience.
So here we have this land grant given, but in the Bible here’s the exception. And this is one when you read this in the Bible you want to back up. This is the kind of question, when you see it in the text you want to stop and say wait a minute, what is happening with this? There’s something different going on here, and here’s what it is. The land was given irrevocably to the tribes. Now where have you ever seen an economic capitalization transaction done in a culture that was irrevocable? This is unique with Israel. The title to that land could never be taken away from that tribe—never! Now what do you suppose that’s analogous to in salvation? Eternal security. See, these economic principles here are soteriological principles, and they would have understood, a Jew that had been raised in this culture, when he comes to the New Testament and Jesus says come and inherit your salvation with Me, they would have known instantly what Jesus was talking about. But you have to learn a business in order to get that truth, in order to understand how Jesus uses it.
So we want to explore the doctrine of ownership and private property a little bit. So that’s also on the handout tonight, and this won’t be the last time we deal with this, this is just introduction to property, ownership and the market place. The first point is that God is the ultimate property owner by virtue of creation. There is no such thing as absolute ownership apart from God’s absolute ownership. That’s why in the real sense there’s only eminent domain for God Himself. God has ultimate ownership.
Now, Psalm 24 and Psalm 50, if we had time we’d go to there, that’s where God owns the cattle on a thousand hills and so forth those kind of passages. But those two passages from the psalms are good biblical references so you can grab a text and see how God asserts His absolute ownership of all things.
[Psalm 24:1-2, “The earth is the LORD’s and all its fullness, the world and those who dwell therein.  For He has founded it upon the seas, and established it upon the waters.” Psalm 50:10, “For every beast of the forest is Mine, and the cattle on a thousand hills.  I know all the birds of the mountains, and the wild beasts of the field are Mine.  … For the world is Mine, and all its fullness.”]
Now this has profound economic implications and we’ll interact with those as we go through the series, between the socialists and the libertarians. Both of these schools of economics fail to understand that the absolute ownership is in the plans of God Himself. God is the owner! And we’ll shortly see how that has been misconstrued over the centuries also.
Point 2, Property ownership implies the right to exclude others from the asset. That’s what ownership means; it means you have it. Every kid understands that, what’s the first thing you see with kids fussing with toys? “That’s MINE!” And they intuitively understand ownership, and there’s a big fight to share because they don’t understand that a toy might be owned not by them but by the parents who are owners of that jointly, so all the children are somehow involved in that ownership, and there’s a big battle because in their mind a baby comes equipped to understand from day one what ownership means; it’s built into us, it’s part of our imagehood. So let’s look at details under point 2. God in Eden demanded exclusion of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil; didn’t He? This is My property, I’m giving it to you, so that’s subsidiary ownership. Adam and Eve are given subsidiary ownership of the Garden, but they are not given ownership of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil—stay away from it.
They violated that. And so ultimately, after they violated that, what did God do to their ownership of the Garden? Out of here! And that’s the first instance of capital punishment, because who bore the sword that was a lethal weapon that could kill anybody that transgressed that property? The fiery cherub. So you start off with ownership of property right there in the Garden of Eden, and it’s subdued. In other words, God subdued creation, He planted the garden, He arranged nature, which shows you, by the way, pristine nature untouched by man is not the highest state of nature; the highest state of nature is when man has dominion over it and brings it to its full productivity and beauty. And that’s what God is showing by creation a garden. He didn’t create the Garden for the whole earth; He created a garden locally. And Adam and Eve were given that, they were shown what subduing the earth means, what dominion means. And so they had this and God said out of here, because God as ultimate owner could have assert His ownership, His absolute ownership, and throw them off the property.
Now point 3, the tribes will be given title, but it will be under God’s contractual stipulations in how they are to use the land asset. God is going to say I am the absolute owner, but I am giving you creature rights of ownership, but because you’re a creature and I’m your Creator, I’m going to tell you how you are to use your asset and those are the Biblical rules. So what are they: Well, first you have blessing and cursing applied to the management of capital assets and that’s Deuteronomy 28, Leviticus 26. And both the blessings and the cursings deal with economics, they deal with the production, or lack thereof, or loss of those assets depending on whether they were utilized in accordance with the way God wanted them to be utilized or not. Then God designed principles of economic prosperity of poverty applied. These are indirectly asserted in Scripture, but we learn them every day in the market place. If we develop something we can keep that asset but if we keep it and we don’t invest it and we don’t use it, it’s a dead asset in the sense it doesn’t do anything, it just sits there. And of course if we have assets in paper money it’s dissolving in front of us through inflation. So we always have the pressure to do something with an asset. So all this socialism about ownership is selfish; it is bizarre. People that say that don’t understand what ownership means from the standpoint of Scripture.
Which leads me now to point 4, and we’ll get back to this shortly, but these are controversial but I think they’re true and I will show you later on from Scripture. Remember we said Deuteronomy is a book of social justice, and everybody likes to talk about social justice. I have to kind of laugh when I hear some of these people yak-yak about social justice, they don’t know what justice is. Real justice is talking about the Lake of Fire. You talk about social justice; do you want justice? I don’t want justice; I want to enjoy a little grace, thank you. So let’s talk about what justice looks like from the standpoint of private property.
One, Roman Catholicism over 1300 years has perpetuated an anti-biblical view of property ownership because Thomas Aquinas defined ownership from Aristotle, and the point that is made there in history is this, and the point has basically set up the theology of the Roman Catholic Church. Aquinas argued that ownership and property rights don’t exist as a natural right; they are grants by the government, they are positive law. So ownership is not really an embedded natural right. Then the subsequent papal encyclicals developed the idea that because God owns the cattle on a thousand hills, point 1; point 2, the Roman Catholic Church is a country, it’s a state, we send, you know, embassies, it’s a state church or a church state, and so the Vatican is a nation, and as a nation it’s the possession on earth of God Himself. If God owns the cattle on a thousand hills, what do you think is an implication? That the Church owns it and this controlled European history; it was the Church that dictated who would be the king in this area, that area, some of the other areas, because the Church ultimately had the right of ownership, because of its position with God.
This explains what happened in Latin America. I never could figure it out until it was pointed out to me how you could have Jesuits going down to Latin America, supposedly die-hard Catholics, develop liberation theology and support communist Marxism. How did that happen? My goodness, look at Poland. It was the Catholic Church that stood up to communism in Poland, what went wrong with the Catholic Church in Latin America? How did it get so screwed up in Latin America?
Well, the same way they got screwed up in Europe; economic prosperity came to northern Europe, it did not come to southern Europe. You can take a map of Europe with two color crayons and color in the areas of Protestantism in Europe, and then color in the areas of economic prosperity in Europe and you’ll see an interesting correlation because there’s a completely view of economics and labor between Protestantism and Catholicism.
So the Catholic Church set up a situation where they already eroded the idea that if you had a piece of property it was yours; in their minds it really wasn’t yours; in their minds the church had to be sort of the protector to make sure you wouldn’t use your property selfishly because the Church, after all, is the physical presence of God on earth. So you bred in Latin America millions of people that had a very, very weak idea of what private ownership means and property; and property and ownership are a corollary to political freedom. That’s why communism and fascism always tries to tell you how to run your business, tell you what ownership is, because their axiom behind it is this: ownership, in the sense we’re talking about, equals selfishness, and we’re here as the guardians of morals, to see that you don’t use your property selfishly. And therefore we have the right to interfere, and tell you how you’re going to use your property, when you’re going to use your property, what you’re going to sell, we can even dictate to you a just price.
You can smell this; this is socialism, this is Marxism and it’s even fascism; Hitler, opposite to communism, see how all these “isms,” they all at bottom are doing the same thing, on the one hand you hand you have the communists come in and they have everything in communal ownership. Well, you know, it’s like everybody owns the post office, try going down and claiming your brick. Communal ownership is communism, it’s another attempt by the councils, because it’s not really communal ownership, it’s the bureaucracy in power that controls that, or in Hitler’s Third Reich you had fascism where the Nazi government, if you happened to own a company that made tanks they had the right to come in and tell you who you could hire, how you could build a tank, this and that and everything else. So they interfered with the ownership.
So Roman Catholicism has bred historically a very, very weakened view of private ownership, by characterizing and set in motion a moral judgment, a moral disposition to equate ownership with selfishness. Liberal Protestants weren’t any better. Liberal Protestantism in Europe did the same thing except they called it socialism and politically in Europe you have many political parties called democratic socialists. Democratic socialism is an outworking of liberal Protestantism because they are after the idea that private ownership is dangerous; it’s dangerous because people can use it selfishly and we are the guardians of selfishness, to curtail and restrain selfishness.
Then finally, our own camp, conservative Protestants, we’ve ignored the issue and so we send out missionaries and they spend thousand and millions of dollars evangelizing people like we have in Africa, and never teach them a thing about private property and then wonder why we haven’t overcome poverty. So, everybody is really screwed up here and it’s largely because we have failed in our circles to understand the theology of the Old Testament. It’s all there in the Old Testament, but the ramifications of this ownership and private property and giving land, and what people do with the land, its implication is the whole basis of economics. And here we are, fiddling around, as we’ve done.
For example in Africa, as a case in point, Erin Wilson, who goes to our church, got an award in the Wall Street Journal contest for writing a fantastic essay which I hope someday in a missions conference we have Erin give her paper because it is excellent. Erin did a lot of research in that paper and she found out this, in fact, the name of her paper is When Medicine Turns to Poison, a story of Aids in Africa—when medicine turns to poison. Now what did Erin mean by that? What she did is she traced the fact that millions and millions and millions of dollars have been given to Africa; it never gets down to where it counts. Who rips off the millions of dollars? It’s the hierarchy, it’s the bureaucracy; the poor people in the villages don’t get it.
See, that’s where Christian missions, and there are some today, that are revolutionizing in Africa because what they’re doing is saying we’re not going to give aid to Africa, we’re going to give aid to the believers at the personal level and we’re going to enable them to start their own businesses. And gee, after five years guess what’s happened to poverty—it’s going away. How come, is this magic? No, it’s just utilizing economic principles that God has built into the creation. He holds us responsible for our property. If you don’t use your property right you starve. And this is what happened in Israel, and there are controls that God built in to deal with the poor and so forth, but the idea is ownership is essential. And it is the economic counterpart to salvation. That’s why inheritance is spoken of in the New Testament in terms of salvation.
Summary then, of chapter 3:12-20. Transjordan settled with two and a half tribes; it was a gift because those two countries in Transjordan, on that side of the Jordan River, they had unprovoked assault against Israel. Israel was authorized to take than land. Second, it was a historical testimony to God’s faithfulness because now the second generation not only had the memory of Egypt, but they had added to that memory the conquest of Transjordan. They remember, we did battle with Sihon; we took sixty cities; sixty! And God was faithful in all of that. And because of the fall now faith needs the Word of God understood as the authority because they had to follow the Word of God, and because of the fall man must conquer in order to restore his dominion. Let’s think about that one for a minute; that’s a vital thought we’ll see again and again, why a holy war? Why are we fighting principalities and powers? Because we fell; and the god of this world seized ownership. And we are the insurgents, and God wants us to have victory, but the point is, we’re in enemy territory, we are not in Heaven, we are in the enemy’s land. That’s why John, the apostle, says: and the cosmos is controlled by the evil one, Satan, and we don’t get blessings without claiming God’s promises against the evil powers, against the deceivers, against heresy. We always have to push our way, trusting the Lord to do it, it can’t be our strength, but we’re automatically involved in a conflict. We are in a cosmic war. So this is why these war passages in the Bible are so important.
Now finally, if you look at Deuteronomy 3:21-22, we’ll look at the last end of this, at Joshua’s commission, just two verses here and then we’ll finish up with Moses. “And I commanded Joshua at that time, saying, ‘Your eyes have seen all that the LORD your God has done to these two kings; so will the LORD do to all the kingdoms through which you pass.  You must not fear them, for the LORD [your God’ Himself fights for you.’ ” Now in the Hebrew text, verse 21, the “you,” y-o-u, is singular, second person singular. But in verse 22 it’s the second person plural. Let’s think about why that’s so. See, back in the south, Mike will laugh at this one, but they remembered the difference between the second person singular and the second person plural because the second person plural to a southerner would be y’all; we laugh at that because it’s a southern type thing in Texas, but it’s there because we’re frustrated as English speakers, because when we say “you,” we’re not saying is it “you” singular or “you” plural. The King James knew, thee and ye; that’s been lost in our language. But here in verse 21, “I command Joshua at that time, saying, ‘Your eyes,’ ” Joshua, it’s “Your eyes, have seen all that the LORD your God has done to these two kings; so will the LORD do to all the kingdoms through which you pass.” Now it’s plural,  “You all,” the nation, must “not fear them, for the LORD your God [Himself] fights for you.” The idea there is that the entire nation has to have that trust in the faith.
I found this quote in one of my military books. Alexander the Great, just prior to his collision with Pericles and the Iranian Persians, said: “I am not afraid of an army of lions led by a by sheep; I am afraid of an army of sheep led by a lion.” The idea being the leader has to set the tone for the whole situation; if you have a bunch of lions led by a sheep they’re doing their all uncoordinated thing but you have the sheep led by the lion and they’re coordinated, disciplined.
Now we come, after the commission, the commissioning of Joshua is going to go on here several times in this book so we won’t spend time with it, just except now to point out that after all is said and done it’s going to be Joshua’s turn, and that’s why, right after verse 22 you have this sort of very poignant almost sad text. The sadness comes out when you see some of the sharpness with which God addresses Moses.  And “Then I pleaded with the LORD at that time, saying:  ‘O LORD GOD, You have begun to show Your servant Your greatness and Your mighty hand, for what god is there in heaven or on earth that can do anything like Your works and Your mighty deeds?  I pray, let me cross over and see the good land beyond the Jordan, those pleasant mountains, and Lebanon.’ ”
I think there’s one more slide. This is taken just north of the Dead Sea where this scene takes place, at the end of the book he’s narrating his prayer but he’s going to come back to this. Right here, Mount Nebo, it’s a high land area, and it apparently is high enough so he could look down on the valleys, this is just part of that map zoomed in on, so he says,  “For the LORD was angry with me on your account, and would not listen to me.” Now look at that: “He will not listen to me.” Now here’s Moses, the great intercessor, he was the guy that saved the nation. Remember when the nation, God threatened I’ll blow them away Moses and start a new nation with you, Moses says no, because now Pharaoh will, you know, he’ll misinterpret what You’ve done here, God, and Your glory is not going to prevail if that’s what you’re going to do. But now in verse 26 we have this very, almost fierce verse, “the LORD was angry, He wouldn’t listen to me. So the LORD said to me: ‘Enough of that! Speak no more to Me of this matter.’ ” In the Hebrew literally it says: “Much to you, don’t speak any more, I’m not going to listen.” So again, the Hebrew text is so picturesque in the way it sees these conversations; it’s not usually the way we think God speaks, but sometimes He gets really ticked and this is the way He speaks, with emotion and fire. And it’s kind of sad in one sense that, well, He’s telling Moses shut up, I’m not going to listen to you any more so just don’t bring it up, I don’t want to hear this again, I’m not going to listen to you.
 “So go up to the top of Pisgah, and lift your eyes toward the west, the north, the south, and the east; behold it with your eyes, for you shall not cross over this Jordan.  But command Joshua, and encourage him,” now look at the contrast in pronouns between “him” and “you;” “him” is Joshua, “you is Moses.” “But command Joshua and encourage HIM and strengthen HIM, for HE shall go over before this people, and He shall cause them to inherit the land which you will see.’ ” See, that’s pretty tough stuff, when you have to walk away with this sobering thought about this, why is God so made at Moses? And if you go back, we don’t have time tonight but if you go back to Numbers 20:1-13 you’ll see the incident that made God so mad and it seems like an innocent thing, the people were complaining and they needed water, and God isn’t going to provide, and God told Moses go ahead, speak to the rock, and out comes water. Well, Moses was so irritated at what was going on, everybody complaining and moaning and groaning and rebelling that he just took the stick and whacked the rock, he was ticked off, he was mad. And God said I didn’t tell you to hit the rock, I told you to talk to the rock. There’s a theology involved in that. And so Moses violated that and just for that violation now he can’t come into the land. He is doomed, in that sense, along with the rest of the first generation. This is the leader of the country.
Now what lesson do you think the people learned from this? What was the take away truth? If you had been in the second generation, and you had seen all that Moses did, you deeply respect him, but you see that God will not listen to him and keeps him out of the land, I think that would tell me that this God, He doesn’t play favorites here; just because you’re number one does not mean you’re going to have your way. And so even this little incident here, of keeping Moses out of the land is part of the theology of preparation for these people. They have got to understand that God is a God we have to respect, say Yes Sir, No Sir, and No excuse Sir. This is the way it is.
So that’s what we have now on Deuteronomy and we’re going to start next time with some of the commands and statutes and so forth, and get into the Law, but all this has been just a historical prologue for that second generation that they may openly walk by faith. Don’t think that these people were sanctified by works; they weren’t. It had to be a struggle by faith.