Numbers 33-34

Thursday Evening Bible Study

May 27, 2010


We are at the end of the forty years of wandering in the wilderness…

Do people see Jesus? Is the gospel preached? Does it speak to the broken hearted? Does it build up the church? Milk – Meat – Manna Preach for a decision

Numbers 33

33:1-4 Travel Journal:  Out of Egypt

:1 These are the journeys of the children of Israel, who went out of the land of Egypt by their armies under the hand of Moses and Aaron.

:1  These are the journeys

Reminds me of … (play Star Trek Opening clip)

:2 Now Moses wrote down the starting points of their journeys at the command of the LORD. And these are their journeys according to their starting points:

:2 starting points – we are actually only going to get the highlights of the trip.  As many places that are recorded, there are some that are missing.  This is the “highlights” reel.

Tonight is going to be a kind of “recap” of the last forty years for the Israelites.

:3 They departed from Rameses in the first month, on the fifteenth day of the first month; on the day after the Passover the children of Israel went out with boldness in the sight of all the Egyptians.

:4 For the Egyptians were burying all their firstborn, whom the LORD had killed among them. Also on their gods the LORD had executed judgments.

:4 burying all their firstborn

This was that tenth plague in Egypt, when the Angel of Death “passed over” all the Israelites homes, but killed the firstborn of every Egyptian family.  The disaster to Egypt made them free their Israelite slaves.

:4 on their gods

At first it seems like the various plagues were just random things that God chose to bring on the Egyptians.

But if you read carefully, you see that it was all carefully planned:

(Exo 12:12 NKJV) …and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgment: I am the LORD.

The Egyptians had MANY gods.  One website I went to listed 114 Egyptian gods.  You could say that the Egyptians were very religious.

Each plague that God brought on Egypt was carefully targeting specific Egyptian gods, showing Yahweh’s complete superiority over all the Egyptian gods.  For example:
The first plague was turning the Nile into blood, a judgment against the many gods that were connected to the Nile River.
The second plague brought frogs on the land, a judgment against the frog-goddess Heket.
The third plague brought lice, a judgment against the desert god Set.
The fourth plague brought swarms of insects, judgments against the gods Uatchit and Ra.

33:5-16 Travel Journal: Egypt to Kibroth

:5 Then the children of Israel moved from Rameses and camped at Succoth.

:6 They departed from Succoth and camped at Etham, which is on the edge of the wilderness.

:7 They moved from Etham and turned back to Pi Hahiroth, which is east of Baal Zephon; and they camped near Migdol.

:7 Pi Hahiroth

Play “Egypt to Sinai” map video clip.

They started out in northern Egypt and headed over to the Sinai peninsula.  We think they almost made it up around the tip of the Gulf of Aqaba, but then God turned them back to Pi Hahiroth, which we think might be located in the resort town of Nuweiba.
They would eventually make it to Rephidim, then on to Sinai.

Pi Hahiroth was the jumping off point at the Red Sea. (Ex. 14)

God had led them right down a dead end alley with nowhere to turn.
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!


Difficulties and deliverances

If you’ve never camped at Pi-hahiroth, you’ll never see a Red Sea parting.
We don’t like camping out a Pi Hahiroth where there is nowhere to turn.
We don’t like it when we have all our options removed and have nothing left but to trust God.
But that’s not too bad of a place to be.
It was at Pi-hahiroth that God parted the Red Sea.

:8 They departed from before Hahiroth and passed through the midst of the sea into the wilderness, went three days’ journey in the Wilderness of Etham, and camped at Marah.

:9 Marah – “bitter”

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.
(Ex 15:25 NKJV) So he cried out to the Lord, and the Lord showed him a tree. When he cast it into the waters, the waters were made sweet…


The end of bitterness

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.
The “tree” reminds us of the cross.
The cross speaks of what Jesus did for us, what He endured for us.
The cross also speaks of what we must “take up” in our lives when we follow Jesus.
(Heb 12:1–3 NKJV) —1 Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance 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 has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls.

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.  We can endure.  Consider Him.

:9 They moved from Marah and came to Elim. At Elim were twelve springs of water and seventy palm trees; so they camped there.

:10 They moved from Elim and camped by the Red Sea.

:11 They moved from the Red Sea and camped in the Wilderness of Sin.

:12 They journeyed from the Wilderness of Sin and camped at Dophkah.

:13 They departed from Dophkah and camped at Alush.

:14 They moved from Alush and camped at Rephidim, where there was no water for the people to drink.

:14 Rephidim – “rests”

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.
There is an interesting rock structure in Saudi Arabia near the mountain that some are suggesting is the real Mount Sinai.

We get a commentary on this story in the Psalms:

(Ps 95:7–11 NKJV) —7 …Today, if you will hear His voice: 8 “Do not harden your hearts, as in the rebellion, As in the day of trial in the wilderness, 9 When your fathers tested Me; They tried Me, though they saw My work. 10 For forty years I was grieved with that generation, And said, ‘It is a people who go astray in their hearts, And they do not know My ways.’ 11 So I swore in My wrath, ‘They shall not enter 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

Over and over in the wilderness, the people complained about this or that thing.
God’s attitude toward their complaining was that He “was grieved” with them.
When we find ourselves complaining, it’s because we have forgotten that we serve a God who promises to meet our needs.
Listen to what comes out of your mouth.  If you hear yourself complaining too much, it’s a symptom of something much deeper.

:15 They departed from Rephidim and camped in the Wilderness of Sinai.

:15 Sinai

They would spend a year or so at Mount Sinai.  This is the people received the Ten Commandments.  Moses spent several months up on the mountain getting instructions from God.  This is where they built the Tabernacle.

Play “Two Sinais” map video clip.

There are several opinions about where Mount Sinai is.  The traditional view is that it is on the “Sinai Peninsula”.  Others have suggested that it might be the mountain in Saudi Arabia known as “Jabal al Lawz”.

:16 They moved from the Wilderness of Sinai and camped at Kibroth Hattaavah.

:16 Kibroth Hattaavah – “graves of freediness”

This happened in Numbers 11.

God had been leading them in the wilderness and providing all their needs.  He provided water to drink.  He provided manna to eat.
(Nu 11:4–6 NKJV) —4 Now the mixed multitude who were among them yielded to intense craving; so the children of Israel also wept again and said: “Who will give us meat to eat? 5 We remember the fish which we ate freely in Egypt, the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, the onions, and the garlic; 6 but now our whole being is dried up; there is nothing at all except this manna before our eyes!”

intense craving – “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 is a first step to sin
(Jas 1:13–16 NKJV) —13 Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. 14 But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. 15 Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death. 16 Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren.

Lust leads to sin, sin leads to death.

So what happened to Israel in the wilderness?
(Nu 11:31–34 NKJV) —31 Now a wind went out from the Lord, and it brought quail from the sea and left them fluttering near the camp, about a day’s journey on this side and about a day’s journey on the other side, all around the camp, and about two cubits above the surface of the ground. 32 And the people stayed up all that day, 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 But while the meat was still between their teeth, before it was chewed, the wrath of the Lord was aroused against the people, and the Lord struck the people with a very great plague. 34 So he called the name of that place Kibroth Hattaavah, because there they buried the people who had yielded to craving.


Change direction

God actually gave them what they “lusted” for.  And they died because of it.
God doesn’t promise to take away your lusts.
You need to change the direction your heart is pointing toward.

This is what “repentance” is all about.

I’ve heard way too many people over the years ask God to change them, thinking that somehow one day they are going to wake up and all the lusts are going to magically be gone.
We have to take ownership with our lusts.  We need to address the issue and “flee” youthful lusts.

33:17-27 Kibroth to Hor

:17 They departed from Kibroth Hattaavah and camped at Hazeroth.

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

At least twenty one places in forty years.

(Notice that Kadesh isn’t mentioned here).

We get lots of place we don’t know much about…

:18 They departed from Hazeroth and camped at Rithmah.

:19 They departed from Rithmah and camped at Rimmon Perez.

:20 They departed from Rimmon Perez and camped at Libnah.

:21 They moved from Libnah and camped at Rissah.

:22 They journeyed from Rissah and camped at Kehelathah.

:23 They went from Kehelathah and camped at Mount Shepher.

:24 They moved from Mount Shepher and camped at Haradah.

:25 They moved from Haradah and camped at Makheloth.

:26 They moved from Makheloth and camped at Tahath.

:27 They departed from Tahath and camped at Terah.

:28 They moved from Terah and camped at Mithkah.

:29 They went from Mithkah and camped at Hashmonah.

:30 They departed from Hashmonah and camped at Moseroth.

:31 They departed from Moseroth and camped at Bene Jaakan.

:32 They moved from Bene Jaakan and camped at Hor Hagidgad.

:33 They went from Hor Hagidgad and camped at Jotbathah.

:33 Jotbathah – “pleasantness”

I’ve always loved that name.  It sounds like something that Jabba the Hut says to one of his guards.

:34 They moved from Jotbathah and camped at Abronah.

:35 They departed from Abronah and camped at Ezion Geber.

:35 Ezion Geber

Today this is a modern town of Eilat, an Israeli resort town on the northern tip of the Red Sea. (show map)

:36 They moved from Ezion Geber and camped in the Wilderness of Zin, which is Kadesh.

: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.

:37 They moved from Kadesh and camped at Mount Hor, on the boundary of the land of Edom.

33:38-39 Aaron dies

:38 Then Aaron the priest went up to Mount Hor at the command of the LORD, and died there in the fortieth year after the children of Israel had come out of the land of Egypt, on the first day of the fifth month.

:39 Aaron was one hundred and twenty-three years old when he died on Mount Hor.

Aaron lived a long life.

33:40-49 Hor to Moab

:40 Now the king of Arad, the Canaanite, who dwelt in the South in the land of Canaan, heard of the coming of the children of Israel.

: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.

More unknown place names…

:41 So they departed from Mount Hor and camped at Zalmonah.

:42 They departed from Zalmonah and camped at Punon.

:43 They departed from Punon and camped at Oboth.

:44 They departed from Oboth and camped at Ije Abarim, at the border of Moab.

:45 They departed from Ijim and camped at Dibon Gad.

:46 They moved from Dibon Gad and camped at Almon Diblathaim.

:47 They moved from Almon Diblathaim and camped in the mountains of Abarim, before Nebo.

:47 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 They departed from the mountains of Abarim and camped in the plains of Moab by the Jordan, across from Jericho.

:49 They camped by the Jordan, from Beth Jesimoth as far as the Abel Acacia Grove in the plains of Moab.

:48 across from Jericho

This is where they are now, in the plains of Mob (see map).  Jericho will be the first place they conquer when they cross the Jordan.

33:50-56 Taking the Land

:50 Now the LORD spoke to Moses in the plains of Moab by the Jordan, across from Jericho, saying,

:51 “Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them: ‘When you have crossed the Jordan into the land of Canaan,

:52 then you shall drive out all the inhabitants of the land from before you, destroy all their engraved stones, destroy all their molded images, and demolish all their high places;

:53 you shall dispossess the inhabitants of the land and dwell in it, for I have given you the land to possess.

:54 And you shall divide the land by lot as an inheritance among your families; to the larger you shall give a larger inheritance, and to the smaller you shall give a smaller inheritance; there everyone’s inheritance shall be whatever falls to him by lot. You shall inherit according to the tribes of your fathers.

:55 But if you do not drive out the inhabitants of the land from before you, then it shall be that those whom you let remain shall be irritants in your eyes and thorns in your sides, and they shall harass you in the land where you dwell.

:56 Moreover it shall be that I will do to you as I thought to do to them.’ ”

:52 destroy all


The dangers of compromise

God reminds the people that they are going to be taking some drastic steps to enter into the Promised Land.
They need to dispossess the people that are living there.  They need to destroy the “gods” of the Canaanites.
One of the things happening is that God is bringing judgment on these Canaanite people for the evil things they had gotten into.
God wants His people to have no part in those things – the Canaanite ways lead to destruction.
The Call of the Barnyard
A flock of wild ducks were flying in formation, heading south for the winter. They formed a beautiful V in the sky, and were admired by everyone who saw them from below.  One day, Wally, one of the wild ducks in the formation, spotted something on the ground that caught his eye. It was a barnyard with a flock of tame ducks who lived on the farm. They were waddling around on the ground, quacking merrily and eating corn that was thrown on the ground for them every day. Wally liked what he saw. “It sure would be nice to have some of that corn,” he thought to himself. “And all this flying is very tiring. I’d like to just waddle around for a while.”  So after thinking it over a while, Wally left the formation of wild ducks, made a sharp dive to the left, and headed for the barnyard. He landed among the tame ducks, and began to waddle around and quack merrily. He also started eating corn. The formation of wild ducks continued their journey south, but Wally didn’t care. “I’ll rejoin them when they come back north in a few months, he said to himself.  Several months went by and sure enough, Wally looked up and spotted the flock of wild ducks in formation, heading north. They looked beautiful up there. And Wally was tired of the barnyard. It was muddy and everywhere he waddled, nothing but duck doo. “It’s time to leave,” said Wally.  So Wally flapped his wings furiously and tried to get airborne. But he had gained some weight from all his corn-eating, and he hadn’t exercised his wings much either. He finally got off the ground, but he was flying too low and slammed into the side of the barn. He fell to the ground with a thud and said to himself, “Oh, well, I’ll just wait until they fly south in a few months. Then I’ll rejoin them and become a wild duck again.”  But when the flock flew overhead once more, Wally again tried to lift himself out of the barnyard. He simply didn’t have the strength. Every winter and every spring, he saw his wild duck friends flying overhead, and they would call out to him. But his attempts to leave were all in vain.  Eventually Wally no longer paid any attention to the wild ducks flying overhead. He hardly even noticed them. He had, after all, become a barnyard duck.
Edited from More Hot Illustrations for Youth Talks by Wayne Rice.  Copyright 1995 by Youth Specialties, Inc.
It happens very gradually.  We let down our guard.  We stop paying attention to that nagging sense that something is wrong.
And we stop being able to fly.

Numbers 34

34:1-12 Borders

:1 Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying,

:2 “Command the children of Israel, and say to them: ‘When you come into the land of Canaan, this is the land that shall fall to you as an inheritance—the land of Canaan to its boundaries.

God describes to Moses where the borders are going to be for the Promised Land.

Show map of Israel.

:3 Your southern border shall be from the Wilderness of Zin along the border of Edom; then your southern border shall extend eastward to the end of the Salt Sea;

:3  the Salt Sea – the Dead Sea

:4 your border shall turn from the southern side of the Ascent of Akrabbim, continue to Zin, and be on the south of Kadesh Barnea; then it shall go on to Hazar Addar, and continue to Azmon;

:4  the ascent of Akrabbim

NIV:  “Scorpion Pass”, perhaps the modern place called Naqb es-Safa, about 20 miles southwest of the Dead Sea

:4  south to Kadesh-barnea

65 miles southwest of the Dead Sea.

Kadesh-barnea was where the people decided against trusting God and going into the Promised Land, and had to end up waiting forty years.

Their border would stretch south to even cover Kadesh-barnea.
When you enter the Promised Land, to take possession of it, God stretches the borders to cover your previous failures and doubts.

:5 the border shall turn from Azmon to the Brook of Egypt, and it shall end at the Sea.

The southern border ran from the southern end of the Dead Sea to the “Brook of Egypt”, which ends about 30 miles south of the Gaza strip.

:6 ‘As for the western border, you shall have the Great Sea for a border; this shall be your western border.

:6  the Great Sea – The western border was the Mediterranean Sea.

:7 ‘And this shall be your northern border: From the Great Sea you shall mark out your border line to Mount Hor;

:7  Mount Hor

This is not the same Mt.Hor that Aaron died on.  That was in the south.

This mountain is ten miles north of the ancient Phoenician city of Byblos, which is north of the modern city of Beirut.

:8 from Mount Hor you shall mark out your border to the entrance of Hamath; then the direction of the border shall be toward Zedad;

:8  entrance of Hamath

or, Lebo-hamath

A city about 50 miles north of Damascus

:9 the border shall proceed to Ziphron, and it shall end at Hazar Enan. This shall be your northern border.

The northern border appears to have been up in modern Syria.

:9  Hazar Enan

70 miles northeast of Damascus

:10 ‘You shall mark out your eastern border from Hazar Enan to Shepham;

:11 the border shall go down from Shepham to Riblah on the east side of Ain; the border shall go down and reach to the eastern side of the Sea of Chinnereth;

:11  Riblah – 70 miles north of Damascus

:11  the sea of Chinnereth – the Sea of Galilee

:12 the border shall go down along the Jordan, and it shall end at the Salt Sea. This shall be your land with its surrounding boundaries.’ ”

The eastern border swoops down to the eastern side of Galilee and follows the Jordan River to the Dead Sea.

34:13-15 Eastern Tribes

Keep in mind, this is only the part of the land given to the 9 ½ tribes, there were 2 ½ tribes that already had their portion given to them along the eastern side of the Jordan River.

:13 Then Moses commanded the children of Israel, saying: “This is the land which you shall inherit by lot, which the LORD has commanded to give to the nine tribes and to the half-tribe.

:14 For the tribe of the children of Reuben according to the house of their fathers, and the tribe of the children of Gad according to the house of their fathers, have received their inheritance; and the half-tribe of Manasseh has received its inheritance.

:15 The two tribes and the half-tribe have received their inheritance on this side of the Jordan, across from Jericho eastward, toward the sunrise.”

34:16-29 Tribal Leaders

:16 And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying,

:17 “These are the names of the men who shall divide the land among you as an inheritance: Eleazar the priest and Joshua the son of Nun.

:18 And you shall take one leader of every tribe to divide the land for the inheritance.

We get a list of the leaders of the tribes that will help divide up the land west of the Jordan.

The one name you would recognize is that of Caleb (vs. 19)

:19 These are the names of the men: from the tribe of Judah, Caleb the son of Jephunneh;

:20 from the tribe of the children of Simeon, Shemuel the son of Ammihud;

:21 from the tribe of Benjamin, Elidad the son of Chislon;

:22 a leader from the tribe of the children of Dan, Bukki the son of Jogli;

:23 from the sons of Joseph: a leader from the tribe of the children of Manasseh, Hanniel the son of Ephod,

:24 and a leader from the tribe of the children of Ephraim, Kemuel the son of Shiphtan;

:25 a leader from the tribe of the children of Zebulun, Elizaphan the son of Parnach;

:26 a leader from the tribe of the children of Issachar, Paltiel the son of Azzan;

:27 a leader from the tribe of the children of Asher, Ahihud the son of Shelomi;

:28 and a leader from the tribe of the children of Naphtali, Pedahel the son of Ammihud.”

:29 These are the ones the LORD commanded to divide the inheritance among the children of Israel in the land of Canaan.

Border Lessons:

1.  Knowledge precedes possession

They were told the locations of the borders before they even crossed over and conquered it, before they even had possession of it.
You don’t have to have already taken possession of it to appreciate what God has for you.
Get into the Word and dig out the promises that God has for you.
Stay in the Word, it’s the map to the Promised Land
(Ps 119:105 NKJV) —105 Your word is a lamp to my feet And a light to my path.
(Ga 5:22–23 NKJV) —22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.

You can look at this list and get depressed.  Or you can consider it a roadmap to where God is taking you.

The more you and I learn to yield and obey the Holy Spirit in the work He wants to do in our lives, the more our lives will look like this.

2.  Don’t settle for less

The Promised Land is quite a bit bigger than what Israel settled for, or than what they have today.
Show map of land not conquered.

3.  Boundaries keep us from where we don’t belong

The land excluded from the Promised Land was not land that God had designed Israel to live in.
Egypt was not in the Promised Land.  God didn’t want His children in Egypt anymore!
There are specific things that God hasn’t designed you for.
You can’t drive your car to Catalina.  It wasn’t designed for that.  God hasn’t designed His New Creation to continually, constantly, without repentance, practice sin.
The naive youth
Proverbs 7:6-23
The important thing is to notice when the kid crossed the border.  It might seem that the border was where he took the street to her house:

(Pr 7:8 NKJV) —8 Passing along the street near her corner; And he took the path to her house

But I think it’s really a step further back.  It’s when he began to think about going to her house, and he let himself think about it enough that he started heading that way.  And so Solomon writes,

(Pr 7:24–27 NKJV) —24 Now therefore, listen to me, my children; Pay attention to the words of my mouth: 25 Do not let your heart turn aside to her ways, Do not stray into her paths; 26 For she has cast down many wounded, And all who were slain by her were strong men. 27 Her house is the way to hell, Descending to the chambers of death.

It starts in the heart.

We need to learn to recognize those lustful thoughts when they first come to us, and stop dwelling on them.

Know where your borders are.  It’s safer if you stay in the borders.


The Five Chapter Book:

Chapter One:  A man was walking down the street.  He fell into a hole.  He groped his way in the darkness.  After a long time, he made his way out of the hole.

Chapter Two:  A man was walking down the same street.  He pretended not to see the hole.  He fell in.  After a long time, he made his way out of the hole.

Chapter Three:  A man was walking down the same street.  He sees the hole.  He falls in.  He says it's not his fault.  After a long time, he made his way out of the hole.

Chapter Four:  A man walks down the same street.  He sees the hole.  He knows it's there.  He tries to walk around it.  He falls in.  He knows it's his fault.  He quickly gets out.

Chapter Five:  A man takes another street.