Deuteronomy--Moses' first speech, Part 4
Jun 15, 2012
Beginning in Deut. 1:34, Moses reminded Israel of the consequences of their unbelief when they had believed the evil report of the ten spies:
(34) Then the Lord heard the sound of your words, and He was angry and took an oath, saying, (35) "Not one of these men, this evil generation, shall see the good land which I swore to give to your fathers, (36) except Caleb the son of Jephunneh, he shall see it, and to him and to his sons I will give the land on which he has set foot, because he has followed the Lord fully."
The story in Num. 14:30 includes Joshua among the obedient ones who would be allowed to enter the land. The children under the age of twenty were also exempted, showing that God did not hold them accountable for the sins of their fathers (Num. 14:31). This was done according to the law of God expressed in Deut. 24:16,
(16) Fathers shall not be put to death for their sons, nor shall sons be put to death for their fathers; everyone shall be put to death for his own sin.
Nonetheless, the children were still affected by the sins of their fathers, for they were not able to enjoy the Promised Land for another 40 years. Hence, Ezekiel 18:2 tells us of a proverb, "The fathers eat the sour grapes, but the children's teeth are set on edge."
Even Caleb and Joshua were affected by the decision of the congregation (church), for they too had to remain in the wilderness with the rest of the body.
Not only does this reveal the law and mind of God, but it also prophesies thereby of the New Testament Church, which has followed the same pattern of "the church in the wilderness" (Acts 7:38). Jesus was crucified as the Passover Lamb, depicting our exodus from the bondage of sin. Then He told His disciples to tarry in Jerusalem until the fulfillment of Pentecost--the day God spoke to Israel and gave them the Ten Commandments on Mount Horeb.
Later Stephen was stoned, while he saw the glory of God appearing to him (Acts 7:56). This incident was the parallel to the near stoning of Caleb and Joshua when they urged the people to have faith in God and to enter the Promised Land. Num. 14:10 says,
(10) But all the congregation said to stone them with stones. Then the glory of the Lord appeared in the tent of meeting to all the sons of Israel.
The people dropped their stones, and then Moses prayed for their pardon in verse 19, saying, "Pardon, I pray, the iniquity of this people." Likewise did Stephen so pray in Acts 7:60 as he was being stoned:
(60) And falling on his knees, he cried out with a loud voice, "Lord, do not hold this sin against them!" And having said this, he fell asleep. (1) And Saul was in hearty agreement with putting him to death...
It was necessary for this incident to occur in order to justify the second delay of the Kingdom, even as Israel was delayed for 40 years. The main difference is that Israel was delayed 40 years for itsintent to stone Caleb and Joshua, whereas the NT Church was delayed 40 Jubilees for actually stoning Stephen (40 x 49 = 1,960 years).
During those 40 Jubilees that the NT Church wandered in the wilderness, the overcomers were required to remain with them. There have been many over the centuries who have sought to be released from the judgment upon the Church, claiming an exemption as an overcomer. But the only promise they have been given is that they will be alive when it comes time to enter and inherit the Promised Land.
This is why the resurrection of the overcomers must take place "first" prior to the day of their entry at the feast of Tabernacles. The overcomers have lived and died throughout history, but the promise they carry is the redemption of their body (Rom. 8:23). Like Caleb and Joshua, they will indeed be made alive at the day of resurrection (feast of Trumpets) when the seventh trumpet is blown.
Continuing in Deut. 1:37, we read,
(37) The Lord was angry with me also on your account, saying, "Not even you shall enter there."
Did God tell Moses this when the Israelites refused to enter Canaan? The text is unclear, and certainly nothing like this is stated in the story found in Numbers 14. Had Moses held this secret for 40 years? Probably not. It is more likely that Moses was telling them of the recent event which had occurred shortly before his speech, where he disobeyed God by striking the rock instead of speaking to it (Num. 20:11). Aaron died shortly thereafter as a result (20:24), and finally Moses himself died for the same reason. Deut. 32:49-52 says,
(49) Go up to this mountain, which is in the land of Moab opposite Jericho, and look at the land of Canaan, which I am giving to the sons of Israel for a possession. (50) Then die on the mountain where you ascend, and be gathered to your people, as Aaron your brother died on Mount Hor and was gathered to his people, (51) because you broke faith with Me in the midst of the sons of Israel at the waters of Meribah-Kadesh, in the wilderness of Zin, because you did not treat Me as holy in the midst of the sons of Israel. (52) For you shall see the land at a distance, but you shall not go there, into the land which I am giving the sons of Israel.
Moses played the role of a variety of types and shadows. Here he was a type of leader who had rebelled by disagreeing with God. Hence, the name of the place is Meribah-Kadesh, or "Contention-Holy." Moses "disagreed" with God and thus did not set forth God's rightful position as King before the people.
Moses was also a type of the Old Covenant which he had mediated, and so it was inevitable that he would not be allowed to enter the Promised Land.
Yet Moses was also a type of Christ in His first appearance, in that he led Israel out of the house of bondage at Passover.
Such is the nature of types and shadows. Moses is a good example how people can be called to fulfill multiple types in different ways or at different times.
Continuing now in Deut. 1:39,
(39) Moreover, your little ones who said you would become a prey, and your sons, who this day have no knowledge of good or evil, shall enter there, and I will give it to them, and they shall possess it.
Their fathers died in the wilderness, because of their decision to remain there rather than to inherit the promises. Their decision affected their children, making them "a prey," victims of circumstance. God's judgment upon the fathers was not only for their lack of faith, but also for how it affected their children, who were innocent victims. Jesus later revealed the heart of God in Matt. 18:6, saying,
(6) But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it is better for him that a heavy millstone be hung around his neck, and that he be drowned in the depth of the sea.
Deut. 1:39 seems to indicate that the Israelite children had "no knowledge of good or evil" even 40 years later when Moses was giving his first speech. It is difficult to take this literally by our Western understanding. After all, these had been the ones who had complained about a lack of water when Moses struck the rock the second time (Num. 20:11). At that time, Moses called them "rebels." It would seem that these grown children were little better than their fathers.
I believe this is phrase is a Hebrew idiom for innocence. To "this day" they were innocent of their father's decision in Num. 14, when they refused to enter the land. Moses did not intend to say that they were ignorant of right and wrong.
This is the fourth part of a series titled "Moses' First Speech." To view all parts, click the link below.
Dr. Stephen Jones