Book of Deuteronomy Chapter Three Commentary by
Pastor Ron Beckham
The Spiritual Rock
Verses 1-3: "Then we turned and went up the road to Bashan, and Og, king of Bashan, with all his people came out to meet us in battle at Edrei.2 But the Lord said to me, 'Do not fear him, for I have delivered him and all his people and his land into your hand; and you shall do to him just as you did to Sihon king of the Amorites, who lived at Heshbon.'3 So the Lord our God delivered Og also, king of Bashan, with all his people into our hand, and we smote them until no survivor was left." The Word of God, as expressed through Moses' recollections of recent events in the history of Israel, is presented in two forms here: 1) Out loud to the people of Israel at that moment, and 2) it was being written within the Book of Deuteronomy we are reading right now. In Verse 3 and the following verses (4-7), we are reminded of events also recorded in Numbers 21:33-35. We are to be encouraged by those words that God was with His people in the past and He is with His faithful ones right now. We are His. He is with us. We are safe in Him.
Verses 4-7: "We captured all his cities at that time; there was not a city which we did not take from them: sixty cities, all the region of Argob, the kingdom of Og in Bashan. 5 All these were cities fortified with high walls, gates and bars, besides a great many unwalled towns. 6 We utterly destroyed them, as we did to Sihon king of Heshbon, utterly destroying the men, women and children of every city. 7 But all the animals and the spoil of the cities we took as our booty." The verses here add to the factual information recorded in Numbers 21:33-35—Moses was being prompted by the Holy Spirit to include details that were not previously mentioned. We learn that an amazing sixty cities were taken from the armed soldiers and citizens of King Og, and it is noted that ALL those cities were well fortified. Note this: If your problems seem insurmountable, remember that the God who called you is also WITH you in your struggle. We are also to see that Og and ALL of those in Bashan were destroyed. And just like it was for faithless Og, a lack of faith in the Lord leads to destruction for individuals and nations alike.
Verses 8-11: "Thus we took the land at that time from the hand of the two kings of the Amorites who were beyond the Jordan, from the valley of Arnon to Mount Hermon9 (Sidonians call Hermon Sirion, and the Amorites call it Senir): 10 all the cities of the plateau and all Gilead and all Bashan, as far as Salecah and Edrei, cities of the kingdom of Og in Bashan.11 (For only Og king of Bashan was left of the remnant of the Rephaim. Behold, his bedstead was an iron bedstead; it is in Rabbah of the sons of Ammon. Its length was nine cubits and its width four cubits by ordinary cubit.)" In about a month or less from the time Moses publicly uttered these words, the men of Israel were going to invade the land of Canaan, and they knew it. Their fathers, when urged to do the same a generation before, lacked faith in the Lord—their unbelief led to indecision and even more mistakes. Recent victories of this new generation against impossible odds were brought to their minds anew, designed by the Lord to give them the faith that would lend courage in the months and years to follow. An example reflecting the appearance of the soldiers they defeated is seen in the size of King Og's bed, which was approximately 13 1/2 feet long by 6 feet in width. Many of Moses' listeners at the moment, who had seen that bed which was dragged out after the battle, would have been nodding their heads and elbowing their neighbors as they recalled that moment. Og likely was a man well over six feet tall, at a time when the typical Israelite was far smaller in stature. When called by the Lord, we do not dwell on our limitations or fixate on the obstacles, but instead we look to the Lord, the One who called us—He will bring us through.
Verses 12-17: "So we took possession of this land at that time. From Aroer, which is by the valley of Arnon, and half the hill country of Gilead and its cities I gave to the Reubenites and to the Gadites. 13 The rest of Gilead and all Bashan, the kingdom of Og, I gave to the half-tribe of Manasseh, all the region of Argob (concerning all Bashan, it is called the land of Rephaim. 14 Jair the son of Manasseh took all the region of Argob as far as the border of the Geshurites and the Maacathites, and called it, that is, Bashan, after his own name, Havvoth-jair, as it is to this day.) 15 To Machir I gave Gilead.16 To the Reubenites and to the Gadites I gave from Gilead even as far as the valley of Arnon, the middle of the valley as a border and as far as the river Jabbok, the border of the sons of Ammon;17the Arabah also, with the Jordan as a border, from Chinnereth even as far as the sea of the Arabah, the Salt Sea, at the foot of the slopes of Pisgah on the east." Moses was bringing back to the minds of the Israelites, just as he is speaking through the centuries to you and me, that the seemingly impossible can happen in our lives when we trust in the Lord. Just as it was for ancient Israel, it can be for us right now. We can't accurately predict the outcome of future events, which tends to make us afraid, but God, who lives in the future as well as the past and certainly is here right now, already knows what will happen. Don't dwell on past failures, or on frightening possibilities in the future, but look instead to His call and trust in Him who is with us at all times.
Verses 18-20: "Then I commanded you at that time, saying, ‘The Lord your God has given you this land to possess it; all you valiant men shall cross over armed before your brothers, the sons of Israel. 19 But your wives and your little ones and your livestock (I know that you have much livestock) shall remain in your cities which I have given you, 20 until the Lord gives rest to your fellow countrymen as to you, and they also possess the land which the Lord your God will give them beyond the Jordan. Then you may return every man to his possession which I have given you.’" Have you placed your faith in the Lord? Have you made a decision to trust in Him? Did you breathe something like, "Lord, I give you my heart and my life... I am Yours. Thank You, Lord. In Jesus Name. Amen." Are you doing it right now? We saw the Lord's assent to the wishes, the prayers of the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and Manasseh seen in Numbers 32, granting them the right to settle east of the Jordan River. The qualification to that right was that those three tribes were required to send troops across the Jordan to fight alongside those who would settle west of the river. When you give yourself to the Lord, you give Him everything and do well to carefully trust in His instructions. You will find that in return, He gives you everything you could ever want and more. He really loves you and me. God would watch over their families and new homes east of the Jordan River, and He is watching over you as well.
It was established in places like Numbers 27:18-20 that the secretary-assistant Joshua was being groomed to succeed Moses as the religious-political leader of Israel, and so in Verses 21-22, "I commanded Joshua at that time, saying, 'Your eyes have seen all that the Lord your God has done to these two kings; so the Lord shall do to all the kingdoms into which you are about to cross. 22 Do not fear them, for the Lord your God is the one fighting for you.'" There would be a series of great battles on the other side of the Jordan River, and in sending Israel with Joshua as their new leader, he and they were being reminded of two great important factors that exist for us also. The Lord has given us victories in the past, even those we have not recognized as His handiwork. He gave us life, placed us within a life-setting, fed us and enabled us with abilities unique to each of our lives. Right now, at this moment—"the Lord your God is the one fighting for you."
Verses 23-25: "I also pleaded with the Lord at that time, saying,24 'O Lord God, You have begun to show Your servant Your greatness and Your strong hand; for what god is there in heaven or on earth who can do such works and mighty acts as Yours?25 Let me, I pray, cross over and see the fair land that is beyond the Jordan, that good hill country and Lebanon.’" Like the rest of us, Moses was not perfect in what he did. He made mistakes like all of us do. And yet, he BELIEVED in God. He had FAITH in the Lord, and he had become a man of prayer. We may be disappointed in ourselves and others, but we should not be overly surprised about failures in the past because "ALL have sinned and come short of the glory of God." That's Romans 3:23, and "ALL" is the keyword—faithful Moses was human, but so is everybody else. Our job is to "confess our sins" (1 John 1:9) and be patient with others who are just as human as we are. Moses would not enter the land as we see in the next verses, but his written words endure and he is with the Lord right now.
Verses 26-29: "But the Lord was angry with me on your account, and would not listen to me; and the Lord said to me, 'Enough! Speak to Me no more of this matter. 27 Go up to the top of Pisgah and lift up your eyes to the west and north and south and east, and see it with your eyes, for you shall not cross over this Jordan. 28 But charge Joshua and encourage him and strengthen him, for he shall go across at the head of this people, and he will give them as an inheritance the land which you will see.' 29 So we remained in the valley opposite Beth-peor." It's very important for us to LISTEN to the Lord. In Numbers 20:7-13, we find this incident, in which Moses was commanded to "Speak to the rock," but instead he "struck the rock twice with his rod." Moses had already struck the rock at the command of the Lord in Exodus 17:6, and water came forth for Israel. Water came out this time also, but when the Lord prompts us to do something specific, we must do it just as He indicates because how we do it is like a parable speaking to those around us. In 1 Corinthians 10:4, we see that "they (Israel) drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ." Jesus was "offered once to bear the sins of many" (Romans 9:28), and the action of Moses in twice striking that rock, sent the wrong message to Israel and to history. And so God would emphasize the true meaning of this incident so you and I would understand: Christ, the Rock, was struck ONCE, He DIED once, to save you and me. Joshua would lead the people into the land, just as Christ will lead you and me into the land of eternity.
Dear God, you died for the sins of the world and that includes me. I confess my sins and place my trust, my faith in You, for You have already done all that is necessary to wash me, making me clean and forgiven. I give my heart to You, Lord. I am Yours. I am saved. Hallelujah. Thank You. In Jesus Name. Amen.