Numbers 32:6 – 33:56

Sunday Evening Bible Study

May 17, 1998


The Israelites are right on the verge of entering into their Promised Land.

They’ve spent the last 40 years, wandering in the wilderness as God has been transforming them from a bunch of complaining slaves, into a lean, mean, fighting machine.

In response to God’s orders, they have just come off victorious in fighting the Midianites, a group of people who had been responsible for leading the nation into idolatry and immorality at Beth Peor.

Now, two and a half of the tribes are requesting to settle on the eastern side of the Jordan River, rather than crossing over to the Promised Land with the others.

They were wanting to settle for second best.

Numbers 32

:6-15 Moses: "Don't stumble your brothers"

:7 the land which the LORD hath given them?

Again, in other words, God promised Israel the land on the other side of the Jordan, not on the eastern side.

:15 ye shall destroy all this people

Does your walk have an effect on the lives of others?

You bet.

Moses is saying that if these tribes decide not to go across the Jordan, that the other tribes will become discouraged and not want to cross either, and they will be destroyed in the process.

(Luke 17:1-2 KJV) Then said he unto the disciples, It is impossible but that offences will come: but woe unto him, through whom they come! {2} It were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he cast into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones.


Your walk affects other people.

A little leaven leavens the whole lump. Don't be the little bit of leaven in other people's lives.

:16-19 Response: "We will help our brothers"

:18 We will not return unto our houses …

They will build cities for their wives and children.

But they will go to war and fight with their brothers.

When the conquering is done, then they will go home.

They promise to stick to the deal.

:20-27 An agreement is made

:23 be sure your sin will find you out

You can't keep secrets from God.

Genesis 4 - Cain killed Abel, thought he could hide it from God

(Gen 4:10 KJV) And he said, What hast thou done? the voice of thy brother's blood crieth unto me from the ground.

It is the wicked who act as though God doesn't see (read Ps.94)

(Psa 94:7 KJV) Yet they say, The LORD shall not see, neither shall the God of Jacob regard it.


God is watching!

Have you ever thought you were all by yourself and went and did something silly, only to find out that somebody was off in the corner watching you all along?

Sometimes it's real funny to watch your kids when they don't know you're watching!

God sees us. You can't hide from Him!

Charles Spurgeon:

There is a singular poem by Hood, called "The Dream of Eugene Aram" --- a most remarkable piece it is indeed, illustrating the point on which we are now dwelling. Aram had murdered a man, and cast his body into the river --- "a sluggish water, black as ink, the depth was so extreme." The next morning he visited the scene of his guilt --

"And sought the black accursed pool,

With a wild misgiving eye;

And he saw the dead in the river bed,

For the faithless stream was dry."

Next he covered the corpse with heaps of leaves, but a mighty wind swept through the wood and left the secret bare before the sun ---

"Then down I cast me on my face,

And first began to weep,

For I knew my secret then was one

That earth refused to keep:

On land or sea though it should be

Ten thousand fathoms deep."

In plaintive notes he prophesies his own discovery. He buried his victim in a cave, and trod him down with stones, but when years had run their weary round, the foul deed was discovered and the murderer put to death.

David wrote,

(Psa 32:1-5 KJV) A Psalm of David, Maschil. Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. {2} Blessed is the man unto whom the LORD imputeth not iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no guile. {3} When I kept silence, my bones waxed old through my roaring all the day long. {4} For day and night thy hand was heavy upon me: my moisture is turned into the drought of summer. Selah. {5} I acknowledged my sin unto thee, and mine iniquity have I not hid. I said, I will confess my transgressions unto the LORD; and thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin. Selah.

:24 do that which proceeded out of your mouth

Do they stick to the agreement?


(Josh 22:1-4 KJV) Then Joshua called the Reubenites, and the Gadites, and the half tribe of Manasseh, {2} And said unto them, Ye have kept all that Moses the servant of the LORD commanded you, and have obeyed my voice in all that I commanded you: {3} Ye have not left your brethren these many days unto this day, but have kept the charge of the commandment of the LORD your God. {4} And now the LORD your God hath given rest unto your brethren, as he promised them: therefore now return ye, and get you unto your tents, and unto the land of your possession, which Moses the servant of the LORD gave you on the other side Jordan.

So often people in the Bible make promises and then fail to keep them. Here it's refreshing to see someone keep to their commitment.

We may pick on these tribes about settling for less than the Promised Land, but at least they were people who kept their word!


Keep your word!

:28-32 The agreement is passed on to next leaders

:28 So concerning them Moses commanded Eleazar the priest …

Moses is about to go to heaven.

His tour of duty is about complete.

Before he goes, he makes sure that all the bases are covered.

He doesn't leave any loose ends.


Make good transitions

If you're switching jobs, make sure you leave your old job in good shape.

If you're switching ministries, make sure you've got someone to cover for you, and they're trained and ready to move in!

:33-42 Territory assigned to eastern tribes

:33 Moses gave unto them...

The territory is officially given to these two and a half tribes

:33 unto half the tribe of Manasseh the son of Joseph

Half tribe in the respect that they were half of Joseph's sons.

Half tribe in the respect that half of Manasseh settled on the eastern side of the Jordan, while half of Manasseh settled on the west side of the Jordan.

(Josh 17:5-6 KJV) And there fell ten portions to Manasseh, beside the land of Gilead and Bashan, which were on the other side Jordan; {6} Because the daughters of Manasseh had an inheritance among his sons: and the rest of Manasseh's sons had the land of Gilead.

These were the daughters of Zelophehad, who had earlier demanded a share of the inheritance. Their father had died in the wilderness, and they didn't think it was fair for them to loose out on the Promised Land.

I think it wonderful that these gals who fought so hard to get an inheritance in the Promised Land, didn't settle with the majority of Manasseh in Gilead, but were given a portion right in the middle of the promised land.


Hold out for the promises! Persevere!

(Heb 10:35-36 KJV) Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great recompense of reward. {36} For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise.

You don’t have to go with the flow! You can be a trend-setter rather than a trend-follower.

Numbers 33

:1-4 Journey record, out of Egypt

:1 These are the journeys of the children of Israel

"These are the journeys of the starship Enterprise ..."

:2 according to their goings out

We can get some good instruction by reviewing the highlights of these journeys.

:4 upon their gods also the LORD executed judgments

Often we don't realize that the ten plagues that came on Egypt were picked out because they were specific judgments on Egypt’s "gods".

1. Nile to blood: Hapi (the bull god) a god of the Nile; Isis goddess of Nile

2. Frogs: Heqet goddess of birth, had a frog's head

3. Gnats: Set, god of the desert

4. Flies: Uatchit, represented by the fly

5. Death of livestock: Hathor, goddess with a cow head; Apis, bull god, symbol of fertility

6. Boils: Sekhmet, goddess with power over disease; Sunu the pestilence god; Isis goddess of healing

7. Hail: Nut, the sky goddess; Osiris god of crops and fertility; Set god of storms

8. Locusts: Nut, the sky goddess; Osiris god of crops and fertility

9. Darkness: Re the sun god; Horus a sun god; Nut a sky goddess; Hathor a sky goddess

10. Firstborn death: Min god of reproduction; Heqet goddess who attended women at childbirth; Isis goddess who protected children; Pharaoh's firstborn son considered a god.

What was God doing?

He was displaying His complete power over all these other "so-called gods".

God used of the very things that the Egyptians considered sacred, God used to judge them.

"You like frogs, well here's some frogs"


Your idol becomes your death sentence.

I think God will work in the same way in our lives. There are times when we fall away from the Lord to get involved in some other pursuit. I think that God at times will let us see how vain, how worthless, how stupid the things we value are. Sometimes its not until the alcoholic absolutely hits rock bottom, until his family has left him, until he loses his job, until he's living in the street, until he comes to his senses and sees how worthless it is living for himself.

:5-16 Egypt to Kibroth-hattaavah

:7 turned back to Pi-hahiroth

This is from Exodus 14

They were following God's leading.

God led them right between a rock and a hard place.

There were mountains on each side, the Red Sea in front of them, and the Egyptian army behind them.

It didn't seem fair. It seemed like God led them right into a trap!

And He did at that!

But He did it to show them that He was mighty to deliver!

If you have never camped at Pi-hahiroth, you'll never see a Red Sea parting before you.


Great difficulties lead to great deliverances.

It was there at Pi-hahiroth that God parted the Red Sea.

:8 camped at Marah

This is from Exodus 15

They had crossed the Red Sea, and then couldn't find any water, a big requirement to keep 2,000,000 people going!

Finally, after three days, they come to a spring, but instead of being sweet water, the water was very bitter, very hard to drink.

God showed Moses a "tree", and after Moses threw it into the water, the water became sweet.


God enables us to swallow the bitter things in life

There are some things in life that are bitter that we just can't get out of.

It may be a tough job situation. It may be a rotten marriage. It may be unreasonable family members.

You can't walk away from these things. You're stuck with them.

But God can show you a "tree" to turn the bitter things sweet.

It may just be that the tree God will show you is the Cross

(Heb 12:1-3 KJV) Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, {2} Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. {3} For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds.

Jesus had a mission, a purpose to fulfill. It contained a cross.

In exchange for the joy of heaven, He took on the cross.

And He endured. Consider Him.

:9-16 Egypt to Kibroth-hattaavah

:14 Rephidim

This is from Exodus 17:1-7, and is also called Massah and Meribah because of Israel quarreling with the Lord.

There was no water.

The people complained.

Moses was told to strike the rock with his rod, and water came out.

It looks like it was all done and over with, but look at God's commentary on this situation in Ps.95.

PSA 95:7-11 Today, if you would hear His voice, 8 Do not harden your hearts, as at Meribah, As in the day of Massah in the wilderness; 9 "When your fathers tested Me, They tried Me, though they had seen My work. 10 "For forty years I loathed {that} generation, And said they are a people who err in their heart, And they do not know My ways. 11 "Therefore I swore in My anger, Truly they shall not enter into My rest."

How were they testing and trying God?

They didn't go to God with their needs.

They went to Moses instead and just griped and grumbled about their awful situation.


Complaining is dangerous to your spiritual health

Over and over in the wilderness, the people complained about this or that thing.

God's attitude toward their complaining was that He "loathed" them.

When we find ourselves complaining, it's because we have forgotten that we serve a God who promises to meet our needs.

:16 Kibroth-hattaavah

(meaning: "graves of greediness")

This came in Numbers 11.

God had been leading them in the wilderness.

God had even been providing for their needs.

When they were thirsty, God provided water.

When they were hungry, God had provided manna.

NUM 11:4-6 And the rabble who were among them had greedy desires; and also the sons of Israel wept again and said, "Who will give us meat to eat? 5 "We remember the fish which we used to eat free in Egypt, the cucumbers and the melons and the leeks and the onions and the garlic, 6 but now our appetite is gone. There is nothing at all to look at except this manna. "

The key word is "greedy"

Actually, the Hebrew could read, "who were among them had a desire of desiring"

It's a word that's very similar to the Greek word "epithumia", which also means "strong desire", or, "lust".

Lust or greed are the beginnings of sin.

JAM 1:13-16 Let no one say when he is tempted, "I am being tempted by God"; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone. 14 But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. 15 Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death. 16 Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren.

Lust leads to sin, which leads to death.

So what happened to Israel in the wilderness?

NUM 11:31-34 Now there went forth a wind from the \Lord,\ and it brought quail from the sea, and let {them} fall beside the camp, about a day's journey on this side and a day's journey on the other side, all around the camp, and about two cubits {deep} on the surface of the ground. 32 And the people spent all day and all night and all the next day, and gathered the quail (he who gathered least gathered ten homers) and they spread {them} out for themselves all around the camp. 33 While the meat was still between their teeth, before it was chewed, the anger of the \Lord\ was kindled against the people, and the \Lord\ struck the people with a very severe plague. 34 So the name of that place was called Kibroth-hattaavah, because there they buried the people who had been greedy.

God let them have what they wanted. And they died for it.

Be careful what you lust for.

:17-37 Kibroth-hattaavah to Mount Hor

These are the forty years of wanderings. It was right after Kibroth-hattaavah that the spies were sent out, and after the people rebelled, Israel wandered for forty years.

Twenty one places in forty years.

:35 Eziongaber

or, Ezion-geber

King Jehoshaphat and King Ahaziah built ships to sail from here.

Located on the north tip of the Gulf of Aqaba

:36 Kadesh

This is actually the second time they came to Kadesh, at the end of the forty years.

The first time was when they sent out the twelve spies, around vss.16-17 in our chapter.

:38-40 Aaron's death

:39 an hundred and twenty and three years old

123 years old. A long life.

:40 the Canaanite ...

The Canaanites heard about Israel and decided to do a pre-emptive strike (Num.21).

God delivered Israel and the place was called "Hormah", meaning "Destruction" because they wiped out these Canaanites.

:40-49 Mount Hor to plains of Moab

:47 Abarim, before Nebo

This was the place where the Lord took Moses up to the top of this mountain and allowed Moses to get a peek at the promised land.(Num.27:12)

But because of Moses' earlier disobedience, he would not be allowed to go into the Promised Land.

:48 near Jericho

Jericho would be the first place the Israelites would come to and conquer after crossing the Jordan River.

:50-56 How to take the land

:53 destroy all their pictures

NAS - destroy all their figured stones

Some how man has quite a perverted mind.

Give a man some extra time, and he starts carving little pornographic figures out of stone.


There doesn't seem to be any kind of time period specified before these idols were to be destroyed. It wasn't like God was saying, "Take these home for a while and see if they disgust you, and if after ten days you are disgusted, then destroy them." No, they were to destroy these things as soon as they came into contact with them.


There are some things you just don't want to mess with!

The world has some pretty tempting things to offer. If you don't deal with them immediately, you're going to get sucked into the temptation.

:52 drive out all the inhabitants of the land

We've been talking about how the Promised Land is a picture of the promises God has for us, and how it's a picture of the Spirit-filled, completely committed Christian life.

God didn't want them just moving in with the Canaanites, He wanted the Canaanites out and the Israelites in.

God doesn't want you contented to let your sin nature have it's own way. God wants you to be completely controlled by the Spirit.


No Compromise!

Why Compromise is Dangerous

It hurts your family

If the people compromise and intermarry with the Canaanites …

DEU 7:4 "For they will turn your sons away from following Me to serve other gods; then the anger of the \Lord\ will be kindled against you, and He will quickly destroy you.

You make compromises in your life.

"Oh, I don't want to get too radical as a Christian..."

You may think that everything will still be okay between you and the Lord, and to a point it may.

Often the ones who pay the heavy prices are the ones around us, namely, our family.



2CH 18:1 Now Jehoshaphat had great riches and honor; and he allied himself by marriage with Ahab.

He did this by having his son Jehoram marry the daughter of wicked king Ahab and his wicked wife Jezebel. Compromise!

2CH 21:4-6 Now when Jehoram had taken over the kingdom of his father and made himself secure, he killed all his brothers with the sword, and some of the rulers of Israel also. 5 Jehoram {was} thirty-two years old when he became king, and he reigned eight years in Jerusalem. 6 And he walked in the way of the kings of Israel, just as the house of Ahab did (for Ahab's daughter was his wife), and he did evil in the sight of the \Lord.\

Talk about his family paying a price for his compromise!

:53 I have given you the land to possess it.

We've talked about how the promised land is a wonderful picture of the kinds of promises that God has for us.

But sometimes God's promises seem just too far out of our reach. It seems we'll never get there.


Isaiah 26:3 Thou wilt keep [him] in perfect peace, [whose] mind [is] stayed [on thee]: because he trusteth in thee.

I have a problem with this, frankly I don't often enjoy "perfect peace".

Usually it’s more like "perfect turmoil".

But because I am not experiencing it yet doesn't mean it isn't possible.

God fully intends for us to possess His promises, not just sit around wishing it were possible.


Keep pressing on!

PHI 3:12-14 Not that I have already obtained {it}, or have already become perfect, but I press on in order that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. 13 Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of {it} yet; but one thing {I do}: forgetting what {lies} behind and reaching forward to what {lies} ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

:54 according to the tribes of your fathers...

In other words, the larger tribes got larger pieces of land, the smaller tribes got smaller pieces of land.

:55 shall be pricks in your eyes


Results of compromise

they will become as pricks to you (vs.55)

You'll face the continual struggle of the Spirit warring against your flesh.

You'll have times of victory after a half-hearted repentance.

But it'll come back to haunt you because you don't really mind it coming back all that bad.

:56 I shall do unto you, as I thought to do unto them


No Compromise #2

Why Compromise is Dangerous

You'll pay the price of the non-believer

LEV 18:24-28 'Do not defile yourselves by any of these things; for by all these the nations which I am casting out before you have become defiled. 25 'For the land has become defiled, therefore I have visited its punishment upon it, so the land has spewed out its inhabitants. 26 'But as for you, you are to keep My statutes and My judgments, and shall not do any of these abominations, {neither} the native, nor the alien who sojourns among you 27 (for the men of the land who have been before you have done all these abominations, and the land has become defiled); 28 so that the land may not spew you out, should you defile it, as it has spewed out the nation which has been before you

This is in a chapter that's talking about sexual sins, sins that were particularly prevalent among the Canaanites whom they were conquering.

This was part of the reason why God was throwing the Canaanites out of the land. God wants none of this for His people.

I think we need to be very careful about the things we allow into our homes and into our minds.

Don't play with pornography. It is NOT okay for husbands and wives to watch pornography together to "help" their sex life! It's a poisonous sin! Don't play with "R" rated movies (even some PG's!)

What kind of consequences does the world pay for these sins?


Ruined families

Child abuse, sexual abuse

Sexually transmitted disease (ie. AIDS)

If you play around with any of these kinds of sins, God can forgive you, but you won't be immune to the consequences.


True Godly Repentance

The answer is to drive out the inhabitants, give God a complete repentance

2CO 7:8-12 For though I caused you sorrow by my letter, I do not regret it; though I did regret it-- {for} I see that that letter caused you sorrow, though only for a while-- 9 I now rejoice, not that you were made sorrowful, but that you were made sorrowful to {the point of} repentance; for you were made sorrowful according to {the will of} God, in order that you might not suffer loss in anything through us. 10 For the sorrow that is according to {the will of} God produces a repentance without regret, {leading} to salvation; but the sorrow of the world produces death. 11 For behold what earnestness this very thing, this godly sorrow, has produced in you: what vindication of yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what longing, what zeal, what avenging of wrong! In everything you demonstrated yourselves to be innocent in the matter. 12 So although I wrote to you {it was} not for the sake of the offender, nor for the sake of the one offended, but that your earnestness on our behalf might be made known to you in the sight of God.

The repentance of the world is half-hearted and doesn't bring about real change.

Verse 11 holds the key to describing to us what godly repentance looks like.

1. Earnestness

spoude - haste, diligence

The idea is that you deal with the issue quickly. Don't drag your feet. Make things right and do it quickly.

2. Godly sorrow

lupeo - to distress, to grieve

There should be some tears involved in repentance. If the situation doesn't disturb you, something's wrong.

But there's more than just tears. That's what distinguishes the sorrow of the world (same Greek word) with the sorrow according to the will of God.

3. Vindication

apologia - a speech in defense

It's clearing your name. Doing what's necessary to clear the wrong you've done. True repentance says "I'm sorry"

4. Indignation

aganaktesis – indignation; aganakteo from =agan (much) and =achomai (to grieve) : to grieve much, hence to be indignant

To be indignant over your sin. (Webster: Indignation - Anger aroused by injustice or unworthiness)

"What I did was absolutely unfair and uncalled for".

True repentance is truly grieved and upset over its own sin. Sometimes the victory in our lives over certain areas just doesn't occur until we get to the point where our sin just totally makes us sick.

5. Fear

Fear (phobos) is fear.

PRO 8:13 "The fear of the \Lord\ is to hate evil; Pride and arrogance and the evil way, And the perverted mouth, I hate.

There should be a healthy, awesome fear of God, both a fear of hurting Him, as well as a fear of His chastisement.

6. Longing

epipothesis - longing

This longing could apply to several areas such as a longing to make things right.

But I can't help but think of:

PSA 42:1-2 (For the choir director. A Maskil of the sons of Korah.) As the deer pants for the water brooks, So my soul pants for Thee, O God. 2 My soul thirsts for God, for the living God; When shall I come and appear before God?

PSA 143:6 I stretch out my hands to Thee; My soul {longs} for Thee, as a parched land. Selah.

Is there a yearning, a longing in my heart for the Lord, to be with Him, to please Him?

7. Zeal

zelos - zeal, jealousy; to boil, be hot

It's found in the verse:

JOH 2:17 His disciples remembered that it was written, "\Zeal for Thy house will consume me.\"

Where was this verse used? It was used of Jesus when He threw the moneychangers out of the temple. There was something wrong, and He had a burning inside Him to change the situation.

8. Avenging of wrong

ekdikesis - vengeance, vindication

In other words, you do something to change the situation from wrong to right. You do what it takes to make the situation right.

If you've committed a crime, it might mean turning yourself into the authorities.

If you've stolen something, you return it.

Don't just say you're sorry for breaking the window, fix it too.

9. In everything ... demonstrated ... to be Innocent

hagnos - free from ceremonial defilement, holy, sacred

This isn't talking about proving that you didn't do something, but instead letting God do such a work of change in your life that become as if you hadn't done it at all.

If you've been an alcoholic and repent, then people will be surprised to hear you tell your testimony of alcohol abuse. They'll think that you're the farthest thing from an alcoholic that they could have imagined.

When a person is truly overcome with repentance, it affects their whole life.

It's not like they only try to change the one area that you pointed out. Their whole life turns over.

There are times when people get caught in their sin, and they say they're sorry, but you have a hard time believing. These nine things are a good test to run by them.

We need to run these things by our own repentance.

Am I truly repentant, or am I tolerating the inhabitants of the land?