Rather than reading the Bible through the eyes of modern secularism, this provocative six-part course teaches you to read the Bible through its own eyes—as a record of God’s dealing with the human race. When you read it at this level, you will discover reasons to worship God in areas of life you probably never before associated with “religion.”
© Charles A. Clough 1997
Charles A. Clough
Biblical Framework Series 1995–2003
Part 3: Disruptive Truths of God’s Kingdom
Chapter 5: Conquest and Settlement: The Disruptive Truth of Israel’s Holy War
Lesson 56 – Gratitude to God as an Incentive to Go on
03 Apr 1997
Fellowship Chapel, Jarrettsville, MD
One of the things we always run into danger with in the Scripture is we concentrate, necessarily, on this point or that point or some other point, we don’t develop a discipline to go back to the big idea, the big picture, the big framework, and that’s part of what this series is all about, is not necessarily getting involved in all the details, but going back to the basic picture, over and over again. We have come through all of these events and we are now going into the conquest and settlement. Each one of these events teaches us some doctrine, teach us some basic truth. The truths that we have learned are foundational to everything else. When we dealt with those first four events, we gave the doctrine of God, the doctrine of man, the doctrine of nature, a little bit of judgment/salvation and taught us something (a very important something) about good and evil.
We want to go back and look at the doctrine of good and evil that we went through, because to understand holy war and sanctification, necessarily we have to understand evil. We have to set these events that we’re talking about into a larger picture. That discipline of setting an event into a larger picture is what we should be doing in our Christian lives, because every day of our life is a little event and we have to keep setting that little event into the big frame of reference, there’s always the battle there all the time. When we get spiritually distracted it’s usually because we got myopia, looking at this little event independently of the large picture. So I hope if we keep going through this and repeating it that it will be a help to you.
We showed this last year, because this is the big picture, and part of getting the big picture is to be able to assimilate opposition. In other words, when we as Christians say we believe in the Word of God, we ought to be prepared to handle opposition, and while we may not be able to do anything except handle it here, that’s fine because that’s where the big battle is anyway, in the heart and in the mind. We want to be able to see and analyze the non-Christian position, the pagan position. In one sense we all, as Christians, have an advantage over the non-Christian, because we too are fallen, we too have sin natures, so we know what it is to think in a sinful way. We’ve spent most of our lives thinking sinful ways so we are acquainted with that method of thinking. The non-Christian, however, in principle, doesn’t have a clue as to how to think any other way. So in a way he’s weaker strategically and tactically because he doesn’t really have a taste of the other side. By the grace of God we do, so therefore we have access to another entirely different way of thinking. So we have an access to two pictures, he has access, usually, only to one, and a caricature of ours.
Going back to this whole basic picture, we want to think, first always think what the Scriptures say and then to think about what the opposition is, what does sin want to do to that picture. We said over and over again, the nature of God in the Bible is that He’s Creator. He’s the Creator of the universe and the most fundamental thing that we can ever think about God is the Creator/creature distinction. He is distinguished from that which He creates. He is not the same, He does not know the same way we know, He does not love in the same degree we love, He does not rule in the same way we rule. We have analogies to Him and finite versions of Him but we are not in the same category as God is. We say that He is ex nihilo, that’s the Latin term that was devised to describe God. By the way, some people have suggested that really that was a wrong thing, we should have changed the preposition and make Him into nihilo Creator, i.e., He created into nothing because there was nothing there to create into, rather than He created out of nothing.
A minor point about a preposition, but the idea is quite clear that He created with nothing outside of Himself. There are only four places you are going to find that belief, you’re not going to find it any other places. You will find it in some tribes, even to this day, southeast Asia being one of the most clearly documented cases, where prior to the missionaries, no Christian influence, some isolated tribes knew very well the Creator/creature distinction and they knew His name and they had access to an awful lot of pre-Genesis 11 material. The question is debated, where did these tribes in southeast Asia get this knowledge, they never had the Bible, no missionary told them, so obviously we say there’s a confirmation of the biblical position, namely they passed it on from father to son, father to son since Noah’s day. The second place is ancient Israel, not modern Israel, in modern Israel you would find it in the conservative and orthodox Jewish components but you wouldn’t find it in a secular component of modern Israel. You find it in the Bible, and you find it in fundamentalism. But you’re not going to find that believe anywhere else, so understand and not get upset when you may be in a classroom, listening to TV, or something else and they don’t believe that. What else is new? The world is in darkness.
That leads to say several things, and the most important thing that we can characterize is that God is personal and He’s also infinite. On the other side of this barrier, that’s what the world believes. There a million variations to this, but this is where our flesh wants to go. So when we have struggles in sanctification, and when we have to deal with things like holy war, that we’re dealing with now, people get all upset and agitated about this topic. The thing to keep going back to is the big picture, and what is the tendency of me and all people that have lived since Adam and Eve fell? What is our intellectual tendency, born of our flesh and our fallen natures? There is a preferred way to think sinfully, and I’m not talking about immorally, I’m talking about sinfully, the two are not necessarily the same. Satan never committed an immorality. So the point is that sin has a feature to it, and that’s the thing we want to go over. We find this in ancient myths and you can compare these. For example, you can compare ancient monotheism and ancient myths, or ancient Israel and ancient myths. This is a test that any kid that can read can do. It’s a test, so if you don’t believe what we’re saying in this class, I offer you the library, go to the public library and look it up yourself. Anybody who can read can come to these conclusions that I have here, western philosophy against the Bible and modern theology against fundamentalism. That’s where the battle is, two completely different ways of looking at the world system.
At the heart of the flesh idea is, not necessarily that we don’t believe in gods, of some sort or another, it’s rather that we don’t believe in a Creator/creature, that distinction of the transcendent Creator who is personal. We will accept gods as long as they are sort of super men, higher versions of ourselves, and if you’re studied the myths that’s all they are, they sin like men, act like men, kill and murder and do everything else like men. Those kinds of gods are perfectly acceptable. But the battle in the world system is that when we come along and start talking about Jesus Christ they want to absorb Him into that pantheon of other gods and goddesses. And that was exactly the accusation against the Christians and Christians were considered intolerant, rude, and politically incorrect in the Roman Empire because they refused to invite Jesus into the pantheon. What they did is they blew up the pantheon and then worshiped Jesus, and that was considered very intolerant of other people’s religious beliefs.
So this is why, because tolerance in that sense is this: it’s the idea that we have some sort of a Continuity of Being and that the gods are just bigger than men, greater than men, but still of the same sort of order, Dr. God and Mr. man. And behind the gods, because you have finite limited beings, and we want to remember this because this sounds very theoretical when we put it in a chart, but this is at the heart of all of our struggles, whether it’s prayer, whether it’s suffering, whatever it is. At the heart of this is that since you can’t have the infinite Creator you’ve got to have finite beings, it may be Venus, it may be Zeus, it may be Jupiter, it may be something, but the problem and the dilemma of paganism is that nobody is finally in charge. There’s always a committee of the gods and goddesses and they meet together and have fights, and out of the fight and the brawl one or two of them emerge winners for a while until another god comes along and beats them up. In that kind of a committee type theology nobody is finally in charge, and that’s the weakness of the whole system.
Therefore, to get around that, what the pagan has to do is what was done in the Star Wars motif, i.e. go to a force that is behind the gods. In that case you have Darth Vader and his father, the evil side of the force, but they weren’t the force, they were incarnations of the force. The force was an impersonal force, and so finally when you get beyond Darth Vader or you get beyond his father, or you get beyond whatever, you have nothing left, there’s no person there, it’s totally barren. It’s just a fate, a blind, impersonal fate. That’s the only hope that the non-Christian can have on intellectual ground once you give up Scripture.
Out of that rapidly comes the thing that we showed over and over again but figures prominently in what we’re going to do now. That is, once you accept these two positions, they lead immediately to two radically different ideas about suffering, death, murder, war, cancer, sickness, disease, etc. Everything you can think of that’s evil you’re going to look at in one of two ways, not three ways, not five ways, only one of two ways. In the biblical way of looking at evil what is the crucial event that we always ought to discipline our souls to think of? The fall, Genesis 3, the most critical event of history since creation, so we have to go back to the fall.
Why do we go back to the fall? The reason is because that little interval that we always point to that existed between Genesis1 and Genesis 3 is so important. Why? Why is that interval between the time that God created and the time that evil started, why is that absolutely critical to a biblical view of suffering, death, the whole question of evil? It tells us that evil was not there from the point of creation, and therefore evil has a boundary to it. You can talk to hundreds of people and that just doesn’t get up here, and the older I get and the more I’ve thought about this, this is so easy to see. And most people miss it by a mile. And I’ll tell you what happens practically in your life if you do miss it by a mile. You become bitter and angry at God. If you can walk into a hospital and see a dying child, it’s hard enough to deal with that kind of a situation but if you don’t have this straight you have to revert to a bitterness and anger against God Himself.
I’m sure if we had testimonies tonight you could go through your family, just your family, never mind your neighbor, but in your own family you would find people that lived all their lives, year after year, bitter at God for something that happened, it’s God’s fault, God let this happen, I lost my wife, it’s God’s fault, I lost my child, it’s God’s fault. I’m not going to church, I’m not going to go to that, hypocrites, I’m not going to have anything to do with that kind of a God, that attitude. Sorry fellow, if you think that way you’re screwed up, you’re really screwed up, because the universe wasn’t created with evil. When it left God’s fingertips it did not have evil in it; it had the capacity and the potential, yes. But the responsibility for evil cannot be placed upon God. The responsibility for creating a history in which creatures would choose evil, yes, that is His responsibility. So evil is bounded on this end.
Now we come, to get background for what we’re doing now. Let’s move on on the time line. Before we go any further on the time line, notice what happens down here. On the non-Christian basis evil has not boundaries; it always has been and always will be. If you’ve read a little about Oriental religion, New Age, Buddhism, Zen, what’s the characteristic of all these views? How do they have to ultimately deal with evil? Everybody faces evil, everybody dies, so they have to have answers to it. What are their approaches to it? They laugh at us, why don’t we turn around and start laughing at them—we ought to cry for them, their answer is so pathetic. What is their usual answer, what is their way usually of coping with it? In the Orient, and we always cite the Orient not because people in the Orient are more evil than people in the west, it’s just that in the Orient the people have had centuries to purify their own belief.
C. S. Lewis said really there are only two religions in the world, and he’s absolutely right, biblical Christianity and Hinduism. If you don’t have time to study a thousand and eight religions you don’t have to, you only have to study two. If you want to study unbelief in its highest form, study Hinduism, because that is unbelief well thought through. In this idea what you tend to always face is if you really believe the bottom line, what you’re going to have to conclude is that the only way you can escape evil is to do what? Not die, because if you die that evil keeps with you.
So logically if you believe that way, how do you escape from evil? The only answer that has ever been given is to be absorbed into the nirvana, or lose your existence. That’s existentialism and that’s the modern authors, this is the modern art, modern music, going in this direction because it’s just picking up a centuries old theme of unbelief. It’s the only exit I’ve got out of the room. If evil always is part of this, whether it’s material or immaterial, the only way to stop it is to destroy it. That’s why there’s this famous saying in the Orient about a drop drips back into the ocean and becomes part of the ocean, that way you get rid of consciousness and if you get rid of consciousness you get rid of the pain. It’s a very trapped type of thing, and on this basis you never get rid of it, shoot yourself, do whatever you want, take drugs, whatever, but you’re not going to get rid of evil.
On the Christian basis evil has a start, and now we come to this: evil will be put aside. It goes on forever because there’s eternal existence for the creatures, but it will be split so that good and evil once again become separate and apart. The splitting of good and evil at the end of history, the return of Jesus Christ and the ultimate judgment of God, and the relegation of evil to an eternal garbage heap called the Lake of Fire is inherent in the Christian message. We have people that want to apologize for that, ooh, we just don’t like that, that’s not a user-friendly religion. Excuse me, but if you don’t have this, you’ve to go to that, and I don’t call that user-friendly; so they may not like it, we may not like the Christian answer but do you have any better answer? I throw out the challenge, come up with a better answer, and until you do, you’d probably better shut up about criticizing the Christian position.
That’s the idea that we’re going with tonight; we’re going to focus in on this splitting that occurs between good and evil, because God says He bounds evil, it starts and it will be dealt with, and in this interval between the beginning of evil and the end of evil, that’s the period of abnormality. Everything during those two termini are abnormal. Our whole existence right now is abnormal. This is why statistical surveys of social behavior cannot be used to create values, because all you’re doing is you’re describing abnormality. If you have a bell-shaped curve, what is the mean in a bell-shaped curve? It’s the mean sinful behavior pattern. How thrilling. Yet we have people, sociologists, who want to do the bell-shaped curve and make that the norm. If you’re out on the two sigma or three sigma end of the normal distribution you’re an extremists. No, it just means you have an unusual variety of sin, that’s all, but it doesn’t mean that you’re not sinful.
What we want to deal with is put this chart… this chart is the basis for the conquest and settlement that we’re studying on holy war. We’ve looked at the first event which is the covenant breaking at Sinai, we’ve looked at holy war, and we want to spend a little more time in those two. By way of review and background, the first five books of the Bible are called the Pentateuch, and what’s the relation of these books, why are they clustered together? Who clustered them together? Moses. So Moses and his colleagues collected revelation available to them and compiled it what we call the books of Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy. We’ve looked at Genesis and here’s sort of the logical structure of Exodus, Leviticus and Numbers, and then Deuteronomy. Deuteronomy is a review of all the events of those three books, but 40 years later. Deuteronomy is a back look, deuter means second, nomos is law, the second law, the second time the law was expounded. It was first expounded by God and Moses when it was given, then we have this big gap, this interval of 40 years and then Moses, just before he died, preached this sermon. That’s why I said take a stop watch, read Deuteronomy and you get an idea how long he spoke.
Deuteronomy 9 is a passage where God is speaking and He wants to brief people on going in to conquer. If you look at the notes on page 4 at that map, you’ll see the place called A, Kadesh-Barnea, and A was the official strategy, go conquer the land. Strategy B was used 38 and 40 years later. But by the time of Deuteronomy 9 he’s looking back at the opportunity to invade from the south. However let’s look at Deuteronomy 9 from the standpoint of a retroflexion upon their own history. Verse 1, “Hear, O Israel! You are crossing over the Jordan today to go in to dispossess nations greater and mightier than you, great cities fortified to heaven,” so they’re all ready to go, this is in strategy B 38 years later, but he’s looking back to the event where they could have done it by strategy A 40 years earlier. There’s certain things stated in verses 3, 4 and 5, principles that we’ll see again and again in this conquest and settlement that tell you why over hundreds of years Christian devotional authors would fondly return to the book of Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy for devotions. You wonder why on earth are Christian devotional writers going back to these passages in Scripture. That’s one of those questions. I said we have genocide, we have intolerance and we have a refusal to peacefully coexist, and yet Christian devotional writers will go back to these passages again and again for principles in the Christian life.
This will come together as we work our way through it. Verse 3, God speaking, “Know therefore today that it is the LORD your God who is crossing over before you as a consuming fire. He will destroy them and He will subdue them before you, so that you may drive them out and destroy them quickly, just as the LORD has spoken to you.” Who’s the “them?” “Them” are the peoples inside that black area on the map; “them” are the people that were forecast in Genesis 15; when God gave the covenant a land was promised. I was just reading an Old Testament author who pointed out something; the fourth frequently used stem in the Old Testament is l-a-n-d. The fourth most used root, substantive root, in the Old Testament is l-a-n-d, and that shows us how important land is and the dimensions of the land because the dimensions of the land go back to the covenant.
And what’s the whole idea of a covenant? A covenant or a contract is established to monitor behavior, and when you monitor behavior you measure integrity of character. The testament is a testament of does God structure history to fit the Abrahamic contract, that’s the issue. Is God faithful to that contract, or isn’t He? The land is prominent because you can measure it, you can lay it all out, measure it, draw it on a map, etc. It’s easy to see what’s happening to the land, it’s one-third of the covenant. He’s going to destroy them, i.e., the occupants of the land who by now, the Genesis 15 passage, “the iniquity of the Amorites” has become full, these people have rebelled and rebelled and rebelled, and they represent a subset of the human race located geographically in the land of Canaan, who had rebelled to the maximum and were theologically a damned people; they are a damned people, they are scheduled for extinction. Not a pleasant idea.
Just as the Jews become a picture of God’s grace in history, the Canaanites, the Amorites, the Jebusites become a picture of people going to hell. That’s what they’re a picture of. They represent, in their personal histories, what happens when men rebel and rebel and rebel and finally the boom is lowered. They’ve never learned to submit to God’s authority. They didn’t learn it in their home, they didn’t learn it in their schools, they didn’t learn it in their society, so they will learn, they will learn it in hell and they will have a long time to learn what it means. There’s no escaping from authority in this universe. God is in authority, whether I like it or not, whether you like it or not, God is in authority and everybody will finally say one way or the other we have to adjust to that. These people are going to be adjusted to that. He says, “you may drive them out and destroy them quickly, just as the LORD has spoken to you.”
Verses 4-5 are a warning to believers. It’s easy to get fat-head and be self-righteous, and conclude when God does this separation that it’s because we’re such beautiful people and we have such wonderful integrity, and we wouldn’t do those ugly horrible things, after all… this kind of thinking gets started, and it’s just prideful thinking. Verses 4-5 are a tremendous passage of Scripture. “Do not say in your heart when the LORD your God has driven them out before you, ‘Because of my righteousness the LORD has brought me in to possess this land,’ but it is because of the wickedness of these nations that the LORD is dispossessing them before you.  It is not for your righteousness or for the uprightness of your heart that you are going to possess their land, but it is because of the wickedness of these nations that the LORD your God is driving them out before you, in order to confirm the oath which the LORD swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.”
Looking at verses 4-5 and thinking through in your hearts, let’s put ourselves in that situation for a moment, and that kind of thinking that’s going on that’s being challenged by God in verses 4-5. What is God arguing, can anybody state His argument about the whole idea of this holy war, this whole conquest and settlement thing that’s going on here, this event that we’re looking at, this whole 400 year period. What is God insisting is the issue here? Whose objective is involved? Is it man’s or is it God’s? Is it even believing man’s? Or is it God’s? It’s God’s objective; it’s God’s objective! It’s very easy, simply because we’re part of God’s people to somehow think it’s our objective, that this is something for our benefit. Ultimately it’s not, we enjoy benefits, but the objective is God’s purpose in history, that’s the objective. It’s not to give us religious versions of aspirin; it’s not to give us psychological relief. All those are benefits, don’t get me wrong, but that’s not the purpose of it. There are far higher, greater purposes to history than us, and that’s what this passage is about. It’s because God has a plan and primarily because it goes back to this diagram, if God doesn’t get rid of evil, then it’s not contained.
Notice verses 4-5, I do this because I, the God of the creation, against whom this evil began, I am going to eliminate it, you just happen to be involved in the process, but the process is mine, not yours. It goes on because of My promise to Abraham, not because I looked down and I see you’re such wonderful people. This takes the pride out of it. These are excellent verses to remember that no matter what blessings we get from God it’s grace, it’s not because we have righteousness in and of ourselves. We saw imputed righteousness; the righteousness is Christ’s, not ours. Verses 4-5 when meditated upon will keep us in the middle of this holy war thing from getting bitter toward people. You can be righteous and courageous and stand up in the most awesome way to the opposition without becoming personally bitter at evil people.
The warning here is that whatever the plan is, the objective is God’s objective. Years ago a man by the name of James Wilson, a Christian officer in the Navy who for many years wrote for the Christian Officers Union in the military, had a book in which he had summarized the principles of war. Sometimes it’s reprinted; it’s a great book if you ever get a chance to get it. What he did, he went through the literature of military science and in military science one of the things you study are the principles of war, it’s an art form. That sounds kind of funny, but there’s such a thing called military science and you study it.
Today millions of dollars are devoted to military science to train, we don’t do so much of it at Aberdeen Proving Ground but there are army bases and air bases where they do nothing but train and train and train, over and over and over and over again, I personally am convinced that military training, whatever the subject, is far superior to anything I’ve seen in the civilian non-military community. There’s a simple reason for it. In the military you get the lesson right or you die, there’s a little motive to learn what you’re supposed to be taught. That’s why the first thing you learn is there’s authority structure, so you don’t have this circus that we call a public school system, where every Tom, Dick and Harry can say whatever they want to, to the teacher. You don’t say whatever you want to, to some drill instructor. The drill instructor is in charge and the officer is in charge, and that’s because it’s the only way to survive.
When Wilson starts out his book he starts out with an objective, and he has a neat illustration that I want to share, because I will share out of this as we go through this because the background for this conquest and settlement really is military science, and the reason for that is, is not that God uses military science to illustrate His principles, it’s rather military science exists because this is God’s universe and that’s the way the universe runs. He’s talking about the objective. “In war, then, let your great object be victory, not lengthy campaigns.” The issue isn’t the glory of the campaign; the issue is get to the objective, get it over with. He says “imagine a situation wherein when war is declared by Congress their objective is victory, they pass the assignment to the Commander in Chief, the Commander in Chief meets with the Joint Chiefs of Staff, to over simplify it, the decision might be to invade and occupy specific nations in Europe and Asia. The plan would be assigned in Asia to the Commander in Chief Pacific, in Europe to the Commander in Chief Atlantic. These subordinate commanders must then make an estimate of the situation, come to a decision and develop a plan. They in turn assign objectives to subordinate commanders, commander in chief Pacific orders commanders 7th fleet to land certain armies of Marine divisions in the assigned country in Asia. The process of estimating the situation, making a decision, and assigning objectives to subordinate commanders continues right down to the company, platoon and squad level.
Every man in the chain of command has his objective assigned to him by higher authority. Now suppose an individual infantry man has as his objective the top of a sand dune on a beach in Asia. He’s pinned down by enemy fire and he cannot make a move. While he’s in a position he suddenly sees a paper floating across the beach. So far, this is a very real situation, but let’s suppose we make it a little unreal and even ludicrous. The paper happens to be a page from the Joint Chiefs of Staff operation order. As the page lands in front of him, he reads the assigned objective to the Commander in Chief Pacific saying, ‘invade and occupy such country X on the continent of Asia.’ This is too much for him, he cannot even get off the beach, and they’re telling him to occupy the whole nation. To him it is unrealistic, since he cannot understand how the whole can be taken, he might even lose the will to get top of the sand dune.” Wilson’s point there is that you have to keep in mind the total objective, but that high level objective is many layers removed from your little battle and my little battle.
In this case, verses 4-5, it’s God’s objective to remove evil from this land, that’s His big objective and we have to keep that in our sights. But on a daily basis it’s to walk around Jericho, as He tells us, it’s to not take loot, as Achan did, it’s to by faith assume that we can invade the land in the first place, we’re going to see in Kadesh-Barnea they didn’t accept that. So the analogy we’ll begin to develop to our own Christian life in a little bit, we just want to enmesh and bury ourselves and get lost, as it were, in the text of this Old Testament period of history. In Deuteronomy 9 God says that it’s My objective, verse 6, “Know, then, it is not because of your righteousness that the LORD your God is giving you this good land to possess, for you are a stubborn people.” And that’s that first point, remember the covenant breaking at Sinai, the people were having party time down at the bottom of the mountain while the law was being given, and it shows the fact that there’s a necessity for a circumcised heart. Deut. 10 deals with that.
Let’s start in Deuteronomy 10:10, this gets back to the first of the seven incidents, the covenant breaking at Sinai. Moses is talking and he says “I, moreover, stayed on the mountain forty days and forty nights like the first time, and the LORD listened to me that time also; the LORD was not willing to destroy you.  Then the LORD said to me, ‘Arise, proceed on your journey ahead of the people, that they may go in and possess the land which I swore to their fathers to give them.  And now, Israel,” remember the law was addressed to the heart. Pagan law, non-Christian, non-biblical law is always addressed to the behavior alone; it’s always just a public thing, but God, when He addresses us in law He ties values and ethics to the law and addresses the heart. It’s always addressed to the depths of the heart. So in verse 12, “And now, Israel, what does the LORD your God require from you, but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in all His ways and love Him, and to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul,  and to keep the LORD’s commandments and His statutes which I am commanding you today for your good?” Notice in verse 12, “love the Lord with all your heart”, we went through what the word “love” means, in that day and age it had a very political connotation as well as romantic, it means to obey, to carry it out.
Verse 14, “Behold, to the LORD your God belong heaven and the highest heavens, the earth and all that is in it.” Verse 14 reminds you of what distinction? What did was say was the basic thing that underlies the whole big picture? The Creator/creature distinction. Right in the middle of this passage what do we see? God reminding them who it is that is the Creator. See, you have to have a big picture of God. Verse 14, “Behold, to the LORD your God belong heaven and the highest heavens, the earth and all that is in it.  Yet on your fathers did the LORD set His affection to love them, and He chose their descendants after them, even you above all peoples, as it is this day.” Verse 16, “Circumcise then your heart, and stiffen [your neck] no more.” How do you do that? In other words, what is the motive to keep on keeping on during this period of pressure and not nice living in this conquest and settlement? Is it operation bootstrap, I just sit there and think well, God’s a great God and I’m just going to keep doing it.
Read a little bit further, because here’s the content of the motivation, like we saw last time in Exodus 20. Verse 17, “For the LORD your God is the God of gods and the LORD of lords, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God who does not show partiality, nor take a bribe.  He executes justice for the orphan and the widow, and shows His love for the alien by giving him food and clothing.  So show your love for the alien, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt.  You shall fear the LORD your God; you shall serve Him and cling to Him, and you shall swear by His name.  He is your praise and He is your God, who has done these great and awesome things for you which your eyes have seen.” What is he talking about, the “great and awesome things which your eyes have seen?” It isn’t the conquest and settlement because that’s future to this verse. So what are the great and awesome acts? What was the previous historical act? The Exodus. And what does the Exodus show us? Salvation.
Conclusion: What is then the biblical revelation; what does biblical revelation say that is the motive that we are to go back to, to charge our batteries so we can keep on keeping on? Where do we go? Do we look at ourselves? Do we look at our Christian life, our victories and our defeats? That’s not here. He wants us, in our heart of hearts, to go back to what? Because the motive to keep law, to love the Lord with all our heart, there’s a prior motive to that, because of what He has done for us. “I am the LORD your God who brought you out of Egypt, therefore,” and He gives us the law. So the motive behind the law is gratitude for my salvation. So where do I get the power to go on? Where do I get the power to face the struggles in the Christian life? Where do I go? I go back to graciousness and gratitude to my God for my salvation.
In the Church Age, in our age, centuries after this God is still doing the same thing, the principle hasn’t changed from Old Testament to New Testament, because what is the ordinance that is ordained to be performed century after century in the Christian church? Communion. And what is the objective in communion? Is it to commemorate our personal defeats and victories? No. The objective in communion is to get our eyes off… there’s many great blessings but there’s also a lot of gook and stuff in our life, it’s to get off of that and on to what Christ has done for us. The bread and the wine, held up as the emblems, this is My body, this is My blood. You don’t hear any mention, this is your testimony, these are the six answers to prayer you got last week, these are the nasty things that have happened to you over the last ten days, it’s not there. “This is My body which is given for you; this is My blood which was shed for you.”
The motive is the same design in the New Testament as it is in the Old Testament. The motive you get charged inwardly only as we look to what He has done for us. This is why communion is repetitive, baptism is once in our lives but communion is over and over and over and over and over, repeated, repeated, repeated, repeated. Why? Because we have to remember it, because in day to day living we forget, our minds get cluttered, clutter, just clutter, noise, confusion. We’ve got to get rid of that stuff and stop and think what has He done for Me. We owe Him, that’s the motive for obedience, not that we’ve got to do it to earn something, it’s the other way around. We owe Him, that’s the motive, whether Old Testament or New Testament.
Okay, that’s what circumcised heart means, because you can see the command, verse 16, see that your hearts are circumcised. And then proceeding in verses 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, it’s a rehearsal of the Exodus, the fallout of the Exodus. He tells them in verse 16 this is what I want you to do, and basically in verses 17-22 he’s told you how to do it, think on My great acts that I have done. That’s the first event, we’ve covered that tonight, we’ve gone through the declaration of holy war and circumcision of the heart. [blank spot, then tape garbled for a while, when it’s clear he is giving a modern-day illustration involving aircraft and intelligence] …if it’s armed and doesn’t come off the rack of my wing, what do I do? If I have to flee the enemy aircraft and I use up more fuel, now I’m low on fuel, now what do I do? All those things have to be thought through and the basis of doing it is intelligence.
[He’s in Numbers 13, verse 2, “Send out for yourself men so that they may spy out the land of Canaan, which I am going to give to the sons of Israel; you shall send a man from each of their fathers’ tribes, every one a leader among them. [v. 3 “So Moses sent them from the wilderness of Paran at the command of the LORD, all of them men who were heads of the sons of Israel.”]
Moses goes back through and the list of tribes, verses 5-16, this is his personnel; he makes every tribe participate in the intelligence. Verse 17, “When Moses sent them to spy out the land of Canaan, he said to them, ‘Go up there into the Negev; then go up into the hill country.  And see what the land is like, and whether the people who live in are strong or weak, whether they are few or many.” In verse 19 see “how are the cities in which they live, are they like open camps or with fortifications?” Verse 20, “And how is the land, is it fat or lean? Are there trees in it or not? Make an effort then to get some of the fruit of the land.” Verse 21, “So they went up and spied out the land” all the way up to the north end, and then they came back with some of the grapes. By the way, when they said in verse 25 [“When they returned from spying out the land, at the end of forty days,”] they came back from the intel position. Verse 26, “They proceeded to come to Moses and Aaron and to all the congregation of the sons of Israel in the wilderness…and they brought back word to them and to all the congregation and showed them the fruit of the land.”
What had God promised? That this land was flowing with milk and honey, it was going to be a blessing. What does verse 27 report? Is it a blessing, does this land have assets, does it have resources? You bet it does. Has God been faithful to His promise so far? War hasn’t started yet, but is the land what God said it was? Yes. Now this is what I love about the Old Testament, I love it because God portrays man warts and all, and I have my warts and I like to see somebody else have theirs, and it’s encouraging. Verse 28, “Nevertheless, the people who live in the land are strong, and the cities are fortified and very large; and moreover we saw the descendants of Anak there.  Amalek is living in the land of the Negev….  Then Caleb quieted the people before Moses, and said,” we’re going to go take it. “‘We should by all means go up and take possession of it, for we shall surely overcome it.” Verse 31, “But the men who had gone up with him said, ‘We are not able to go up against the people, for they are too strong for us. [v. 32] So they gave out to the sons of Israel a bad report of the land which they had spied out, saying, ‘The land through which we have gone in, spying it out, is a land that devours its inhabitants; and all the people whom we saw in it are men of great size.”
Just from the history that you know, what do you think, who had the bigger army, Egypt or the Canaanites? Think this one through. Egypt was the super power in their day. What did God do to their military machine? He drowned it. Did He need any help from the Israelites? Did they get with their swords and their spears and took on Pharaoh and his chariots? No. God took care of that. The Exodus happened without any help. So He’s asking them to go in and they do an analysis, they find in verse 27 that what God said about the land is true, but then they add the fact that this is not going to be a pushover, we’ve got some opponents, verses 31-32, we’ve got a big problem here. Verse 33 is a classic statement, “There also we saw the Nephilim…,” by the way, these people were large, “and we became like grasshoppers” but look what the text says. Remember that who wrote the text is the Holy Spirit, He doesn’t say “we became like grasshoppers in their sight,” but “we became like grasshoppers in our own sight,” it’s just a little faint recognition of the fact of what is going on, they’re getting psyched out here. How many times have we all gone through this process?
The mental processes that we’re going to observe in this conquest and settlement are directly analogous to the mental processes of living the Christian life and that’s precisely why devotional writers come back to these pages and these events, to gain inspiration and guidance in living the Christian life. Do we have opponents? You bet we have; spiritual unseen guys that are very, very powerful, the principalities and powers of the air. Are they going to let us have our way? Not if they have anything to say about it they’re not, this is their world. This is Satan’s world, he owns it, we’re the intruders, we’re the aliens, we have come like the Jews onto his turf. Do you think he likes us here? Do you think he really enjoys seeing us gathered together to study Scripture? I don’t think so. Therefore he doesn’t enjoy you trying to establish a godly home. Do you think he’s going to take that lying down? No-no. There’s opposition, this is an evil world because evil hasn’t been removed yet. Remember the objective.
At the end of chapter 14 look what happens, verse 31, after they say this unbelieving expression, now look at how God inverts it, they’re afraid they’re going to die, they’re so concerned about their homes. He says in verse 31, “Your children, however, whom you said would become a prey—I will bring them in, and they shall know the land which you have rejected.  But as for you, your corpses shall fall in this wilderness.” So that generation, verse 33ff, that entire generation had to die before the unbelief was purged out of that land and they could once again take the land, this time by campaign B on the map, from the east side. But between campaign A and campaign B is thirty-eight long years, enough time, literally, to allow unbelieving elements in the people of God to die out so the younger people who could believe could take the objective. What a lesson.
Then in verses 42-43 look what happens. This is the grand conclusion of the discussion. Moses says in verse 42, because he sees clearly now, they’ve blown it, “Do not go up, lest you be struck down before your enemies, for the LORD is not among you.” Forget it, you’re not going to get this objective now. Verse 43, “For the Amalekites and the Canaanites will be there in front of you, and you will fall by the sword, inasmuch as you have turned back from following the LORD. And the LORD will not be with you.  But they went up heedlessly to the ridge of the hill country; neither the ark of the covenant of the LORD nor Moses left the camp.  Then the Amalekites and the Canaanites who lived in that hill country came down, and struck them and beat them down as far as Hormah.” The first military defeat they had, because they rashly said they’re going to go up.
Verse 40, “In the morning, however, they rose up early and went up to the ridge of the hill country, saying, ‘Here we are; we have indeed sinned, but we will go up to the place which the LORD has promised.” Look at the juxtaposition of those two clauses. “We sinned,” no problem, we’re going to take it anyway. It doesn’t work. The Lord speaks to the heart and if the heart isn’t right the externals fall apart, and that’s what the whole thing about this is going to be. Love the Lord with all your heart and the other things follow; take that away and everything else collapses. You can’t fake it. You can’t go through the motions, it doesn’t happen, it won’t occur. We get defeated when we do that. That’s one of the things we’ll get into again and again. Read Numbers 13-14, a fantastic area of devotion to read, and I suggest for next week, page 81, if you’ll prepare by looking at Joshua 2-6, because that’s the famous battle around Jericho and we’ll look at that.