Deuteronomy 3 “Next we turned and headed for the land of Bashan, where King Og and his entire army attacked us at Edrei. But the LORD told me, ‘Do not be afraid of him, for I have given you victory over Og and his entire army, and I will give you all his land. Treat him just as you treated King Sihon of the Amorites, who ruled in Heshbon.’ “So the LORD our God handed King Og and all his people over to us, and we killed them all. Not a single person survived… “So we took the land of the two Amorite kings east of the Jordan River—all the way from the Arnon Gorge to Mount Hermon… “When we took possession of this land, I gave to the tribes of Reuben and Gad the territory beyond Aroer along the Arnon Gorge, plus half of the hill country of Gilead with its towns. Then I gave the rest of Gilead and all of Bashan—Og’s former kingdom—to the half-tribe of Manasseh… “At that time I gave this command to the tribes that would live east of the Jordan: ‘Although the LORD your God has given you this land as your property, all your fighting men must cross the Jordan ahead of your Israelite relatives, armed and ready to assist them… “At that time I gave Joshua this charge: ‘You have seen for yourself everything the LORD your God has done to these two kings. He will do the same to all the kingdoms on the west side of the Jordan. Do not be afraid of the nations there, for the LORD your God will fight for you.’ “At that time I pleaded with the LORD and said, ‘O Sovereign LORD, you have only begun to show your greatness and the strength of your hand to me, your servant. Is there any god in heaven or on earth who can perform such great and mighty deeds as you do? Please let me cross the Jordan to see the wonderful land on the other side, the beautiful hill country and the Lebanon mountains.’ “But the LORD was angry with me because of you, and he would not listen to me. ‘That’s enough!’ he declared. ‘Speak of it no more. But go up to Pisgah Peak, and look over the land in every direction. Take a good look, but you may not cross the Jordan River. Instead, commission Joshua and encourage and strengthen him, for he will lead the people across the Jordan. He will give them all the land you now see before you as their possession.’
Death and destruction mar the Israelites every step as they advance to their promised homeland. What justice is there in this and what is God speaking to us through this passage?
As always, a challenge with reading these scriptures and making judgment is easy but with a little effort, it is possible to see this story in perspective. The narration of events was by Moses to the Israelites of their 40 year journey from slavery to being established in their own land. A few pages of the Bible does not cover the detail of what took place but gives us enough to draw from.
Just as the Israelites were attacked by King Sihon in chapter 2, they were attacked by King Og of Bashan. We have to remember again that they asked for peaceful passage through the Amorite kingdom just as they did with the 4 other kingdoms they passed. While 3 were peaceful, it was not the same with King Sihon and King Og.
One thing we must also note is that God warned the Israelites not to attack or harm the Edomites, Moabites and Ammonites. Their lands and possessions were totally out-of-bounds of the journeying Israelites. This is a clear sign of God's justice to those who follow Him and those who don't. There was certainly much wisdom in God's direction and while it is easy for us to condone bloodshed, we must remember that God has the right to judge and is in the process of bringing about what is right in His sight.
Also, it is sad to note that King Og did not heed to the warning God issued him when the Israelites destroyed the kingdom of his neighbour. Instead of letting the Israelites pass through peacefully, he brought God's wrath on himself dealt at the hands of the journeying Israelites.
A lesson for us today is to always be mindful of God's words which are a blessing to those who faithfully obey and destruction to those who oppose or chose to ignore!
The other aspect of today's chapter that might have saddened us is God's refusal to Moses when he pleads for the ability to see the promised land that God had previously denied him access to. This again seems very harsh of God for all that Moses had done to serve Him and His people. God's answer to Moses' prayer was a mixture of mercy and judgment. What Moses asked here in sincere prayer is no different from the many times we ask God things in prayer too and we sometimes don't get what we ask for. Why?
God sees it good to deny many things we desire. He may accept our prayers, yet does not grant us the very things we sometimes pray for. Even if God by His providence, denies us our desires, he certainly makes us content without them. We need to be satisfied knowing that God is on our side and does what He wills for the glory of His name and has provided for us a better gift than the greatest desires of our heart, a glorious inheritance - an eternity in His holy presence!
We in our humanness live for today and for the things that we know and understand but often miss the fact that through Jesus Christ, God has given us riches far better than anything this world can ever give us. Our hope is in heaven in God's presence and our ticket is through the shed blood of Jesus while our new life in Christ is made possible through the leading of God's Holy Spirit.
The real question is not if God is fair or not but instead it is - can we put our faith and trust in Him through Jesus Christ and live in faithful obedience, knowing He is GOD and has our best in mind?
In His Loving Service,