Battles 1 - RR181W41

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Professor: Rushdoony, Dr. R. J.
Title: Battles
Course: Course - Numbers; Faith, Law, and History
Subject: Subject:Pentateuch
Lesson#: 41
Length: 0:36:37
TapeCode: RR181W41
Audio: Chalcedon Archive
Transcript: .docx Format
Numbers Faith, Law, and History.jpg

This transcript is unedited. It was:
Archived by the Mt. Olive Tape Library
Digitized, transcribed, and published by Christ Rules
Posted by with permission

Let us worship God. This is the confidence that we have in him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He heareth us. Having these promises, let us draw near to the throne of grace with true hearts in full assurance of faith. My voice shalt thou hear in the morning. In the morning will I direct my prayer unto thee and will look up. Let us pray.

Almighty God, our heavenly Father, we give thanks unto thee that day after day, thy hand is upon us for good. We thank thee that thy mercies are new every morning. Give us grace, therefore, our Father, to see that in all our yesterdays, todays, and tomorrows, thine eternal purpose is at work, that we are being prepared for time and eternity for the glory of thy kingdom and thy service. Give us grace therefore, to hear thy word, to rejoice in thy spirit, and to serve thee with all our heart, mind, and being. In Christ’s name. Amen.

Our scripture is Numbers 21:10-35, and our subject: Battles. Battles. Numbers 21:10-35. “And the children of Israel set forward, and pitched in Oboth. And they journeyed from Oboth, and pitched at Ijeabarim, in the wilderness which is before Moab, toward the sunrising. From thence they removed, and pitched in the valley of Zared. From thence they removed, and pitched on the other side of Arnon, which is in the wilderness that cometh out of the coasts of the Amorites: for Arnon is the border of Moab, between Moab and the Amorites. Wherefore it is said in the book of the wars of the Lord, What he did in the Red sea, and in the brooks of Arnon, and at the stream of the brooks that goeth down to the dwelling of Ar, and lieth upon the border of Moab. And from thence they went to Beer: that is the well whereof the Lord spake unto Moses, Gather the people together, and I will give them water. Then Israel sang this song, Spring up, O well; sing ye unto it: the princes digged the well, the nobles of the people digged it, by the direction of the lawgiver, with their staves. And from the wilderness they went to Mattanah: and from Mattanah to Nahaliel: and from Nahaliel to Bamoth: and from Bamoth in the valley, that is in the country of Moab, to the top of Pisgah, which looketh toward Jeshimon. [00:03:33]

And Israel sent messengers unto Sihon king of the Amorites

And Israel sent messengers unto Sihon king of the Amorites, saying, Let me pass through thy land: we will not turn into the fields, or into the vineyards; we will not drink of the waters of the well: but we will go along by the king's high way, until we be past thy borders. And Sihon would not suffer Israel to pass through his border: but Sihon gathered all his people together, and went out against Israel into the wilderness: and he came to Jahaz, and fought against Israel. And Israel smote him with the edge of the sword, and possessed his land from Arnon unto Jabbok, even unto the children of Ammon: for the border of the children of Ammon was strong. And Israel took all these cities: and Israel dwelt in all the cities of the Amorites, in Heshbon, and in all the villages thereof. For Heshbon was the city of Sihon the king of the Amorites, who had fought against the former king of Moab, and taken all his land out of his hand, even unto Arnon.

Wherefore they that speak in proverbs say, Come into Heshbon, let the city of Sihon be built and prepared: for there is a fire gone out of Heshbon, a flame from the city of Sihon: it hath consumed ar of Moab, and the lords of the high places of Arnon. Woe to thee, Moab! thou art undone, O people of Chemosh: he hath given his sons that escaped, and his daughters, into captivity unto Sihon king of the Amorites. We have shot at them; Heshbon is perished even unto Dibon, and we have laid them waste even unto Nophah, which reacheth unto Medeba. Thus Israel dwelt in the land of the Amorites.

And Moses sent to spy out Jaazer, and they took the villages thereof, and drove out the Amorites that were there. And they turned and went up by the way of Bashan: and og the king of Bashan went out against them, he, and all his people, to the battle at edrei. And the Lord said unto Moses, Fear him not: for I have delivered him into thy hand, and all his people, and his land; and thou shalt do to him as thou didst unto Sihon king of the Amorites, which dwelt at Heshbon. So they smote him, and his sons, and all his people, until there was none left him alive: and they possessed his land.” [00:06:16]

After a generation of wandering in the wilderness,...

After a generation of wandering in the wilderness, Israel now began to near the Promised Land. Not all the older generation were dead, but they soon would be, condemned by God for their unbelief and their rebellion. Israel finally began to express some expectation of victory, and we have three short victory songs, or poems, in these verses, in verses 21 and verses 14-15, 17-18, and 27-30. These may be excerpts from the original songs, used to describe the areas of victory and also an event. They suddenly found that they could be winners, and the result was exuberance on the part of Israel. Their conquests were on the east side of the Jordan, not in the heart of Canaan, or Canaan proper.

One aspect of these verses has created more than a little curiosity over the years, and it has led to the writing of apocryphal books claiming to be the supposedly lost books of the Bible, and in fact, you can buy a collection of these and other supposedly lost books of the Bible, all of which are frauds. The reference in verse 14 is to the Book of Wars of the Lord. This was a log kept of Israel’s battles. It had no inspired character and it disappeared. In Joshua 10:13, and 2 Samuel 1:8, reference is made to still another book, The Book of Jasher. This, too, had military matters as its context. Then later, according to 1 Kings 14:19, there was kept a Chronicle of the Kings of Israel, and according to 1 Kings 14:29, a Chronicle of the Kings of Judah. However, interesting these might have been to later historians, God preserved only the inspired text of Israel’s history.

In verses 10-20, the journey from Obath to Pisgah is cited. Then in verses 21-30, we have the warfare with Sihon, king of the Amorites. Then finally, in verses 31-35, we have the radical defeat of Og, king of Bashon. In Psalm 135:6-13, we have a celebration of God’s providence from Egypt to the borders of Canaan, and it reads: “Whatsoever the Lord pleased, that did he in heaven, and in earth, in the seas, and all deep places. He causeth the vapours to ascend from the ends of the earth; he maketh lightnings for the rain; he bringeth the wind out of his treasuries. Who smote the firstborn of Egypt, both of man and beast. Who sent tokens and wonders into the midst of thee, O Egypt, upon Pharaoh, and upon all his servants. Who smote great nations, and slew mighty kings; Sihon king of the Amorites, and Og king of Bashan, and all the kingdoms of Canaan: and gave their land for an heritage, an heritage unto Israel his people. Thy name, O Lord, endureth for ever; and thy memorial, O Lord, throughout all generations.” [00:10:23]

Now, in the process of these events, Israel whined

Now, in the process of these events, Israel whined and complained about all of God’s ways, but in looking back, the psalmist reminds the people of God’s total and providential government. In the first section of this passage we read, the march from Araba to Obath to Pisgah, we have the song of the well. In Mofat’s rendering, it reads thus, “Spring up, oh well. Sing to the well, that chieftains dug, that captains delved wielding their wands, wielding their staves.” Now according to Rabbinic tradition, this song had to be sung on every third Sabbath. The song is a kind of prayer as well as a happy chant, that the work of the leaders produced a richly abundant supply of water, but the key verse is verse 16, where we are told that “the Lord spake unto Moses, Gather the people together, and I will give them water.” Obedience precedes blessing, and in this instance, Israel obeyed and therefore, it’s exuberant joy. The use of these verses on the Sabbath was a reminder of the fact that God supplied a basic and elemental need to an obedient people, but they had to work. He told them where they could find water and they found it, so that it flowed, gushed out.

This episode took place at Beer, a name meaning “well,” and it got it from the event. Apparently, this well became, in part, a spring, and the leaders used their staves and scepters to clear the ground for its flow. The previous song, in verses 14-15, again using Mofat’s version, “Through what have we swept? Through the valley of Arnon, or the slopes of the valleys that stretch where Ar lies, that leans upon Moab’s edge.” This is a part of a song to describe where they went. Control of water has always been the control of life, and statism from Antiquity has sought to control the water supply as a way of controlling people. When I was a boy, the farmers of California still controlled their water. They farmed organizations. They built dams. They made the water ditches, just as they did here originally when this was a farming area. In the last century, in the 1870’s and 80’s, and the, what is it? six of seven mile ditch went from here to where the fairgrounds are, and that whole area, and part of that ditch dug by men is still on our property. In fact, the whole of the Vallecito area was once orchards and vineyards, and as you go from Vallecito towards Murphy’s, on your left you’ll see an old stone building with a wooden roof, beginning to self-destruct. It was once a winery. But when states want to control people from pre-Christian times, they have controlled the water supply, because ultimately you can dictate to people. You can control the farmers or wipe them out, and you can control the cities as well. [00:14:57]

The existing Canaanite powers control the water supplies

The existing Canaanite powers control the water supplies in their areas. The lines that I read a few minutes ago celebrate going over an area waheb, meaning watershed, and then at God’s direction, finding an abundance of water where God directed them to dig, water that was going underground to other areas.

There were two powerful states in Israel’s way as it now moved toward the opposite shore from Jericho and Canaan. These were the Amorites under Sihon and Bashon under Og. Og’s people were the Repha-im, a race of giants. The only survivors of such people now to be found are in central Africa, the Watusi, similar in size rather than racially, but the Watusi are people of statures ranging from seven to occasionally nine feet. Many of them were wiped out with independence because they had been lords over that area, and with colonialism they were protected by the Belgians, and therefore, grew soft, and the subordinate people massacred most of them on independence.

These two victories, over the Amorites and over Bashan, were shattering on their impact on Canaan. All the memories of Israel’s miraculous deliverance from Egypt were revived. Rahab later testified to this. In particular, the victory over Bashan was total. They fought bitterly, and no Bashanites survived this bitter and intense war. Again, Mofat’s rendering of these verses is telling.

“Hence the song and satire of the bards.

Come to Heshbon and rebuild it.

Repair the capital of Sihon if you can,

for the blaze began at Heshbon

at the capital of Sihon till

Ar of Moab was consumed

and Arnon’s heights devoured.

Poor Moabites!

O forlorn folk of Kemosh.

The god has left his sons to flight,

his daughters to a prisoner’s plight,

Their children have perished from Heshbon to Dibon,

and we ravaged till war’s fire was blown to Medeba.” [00:18:07]

This song says that Heshbon, Sihon’s capital was gone

This song says that Heshbon, Sihon’s capital was gone. It was, of course, rebuilt by Israel, but there are none of Sihon’s people left to repair it. More important, these verses look ahead to victory over Moab, so they predict the victory that God is going to give them. They had only recently gone around Moab to avoid confrontation, but they knew it would come, and they would devastate Moab, and the song is thus a prediction of things to come, as well as a celebration of a present victory.

James Philip has superbly noted that this incident typifies a conflict between the world and God’s people. It is an irreconcilable conflict. You cannot make peace with the ungodly. It is to the death that cannot be avoided. Either God’s will is done or man’s. There is no other alternative. We must therefore, be at one with Him and His purpose in the world. The very gates of Hell cannot hold out against God’s kingdom. In Philip’s words, “The work of God always advances by the way of conflict, whether in Old Testament times or in New, or today, and it is unrealistic for us to think otherwise, or to imagine that we will ever get by in our Christian experience without encountering opposition of one kind or another. As the apostle Paul puts it, “We must, through much tribulations, enter the kingdom of God.” The reference to Kemosh is to the god of the Moabites.

God’s judgment on Egypt had broken its control over Canaan and all the adjacent areas. They had been under Egyptian rule. Now for about forty years, various small states had arisen. They were all wealthy and prosperous because Canaan was the trade route between Egypt and North Africa, and Asia Minor. It was the world’s highway, in other words, of Antiquity. All through history, in fact, various powers have struggled to control this area, and this is a very important fact. We did not go to war in the Persian Gulf for freedom or democracy. We went there because we wanted to control an area, and at that point, the Soviet Union was not ready to act. [00:21:22]

God did not lead His chosen people to a secluded and

God did not lead His chosen people to a secluded and safe area, but to a major highway of commerce, a place of testing, struggle, and stress. Strange way, isn’t it, for God to save a people? To take them and plant them on a highway? But, this was not to punish them, but to give them the opportunity to grow, to be tested, to learn. We don’t grow by withdrawing from the world and problems, but by confronting them, in God’s spirit and by His word, then we learn. Then we grow.

Religiously, Canaan was an area of fertility cults. Sexually, it was an area which makes our modern sex revolution and Rome’s depravity look somewhat better. So, God brought His people face to face with evil. Even today, many of the things dug up from excavations are not exhibited in museums. Just as Adam in the Garden of Eden had the tempter, so God’s chosen people had to confront evil in all its power. This is no less true for us as Christians. We must face up to evil and the power of God’s word and spirit, and become more than conquerors in Christ. Our salvation does not free us from our problems, but rather enables us to battle successfully against the sins and the evils which beset us.

The idea of the Promised Land, no doubt, meant to many Hebrews the end of their troubles, and a land resembling the Garden of Eden. While it is true, that in that area, Canaan, or Palestine was not like it is now. It was an area of much more water, many streams, forests, wildlife, very, very fertile and prosperous area. The Turkish rule did much to devastate the land in every way. For one thing, the Turkish policy of taxing every tree meant that unless a tree bore a fruit, you had to cut it down. You could not afford to keep it, and it led to the devastation of vast forests. The famous cedars of Lebanon, tremendous forests which extended all through that area, disappeared under the Turkish rule. [00:24:45]

Israel was taken to Canaan when it was a rich land

Israel was taken to Canaan when it was a rich land, flowing in milk and honey was the expression, an expression to mean particularly lush and prosperous. They went to Canaan from Goshen in Egypt, from an oppressive slavery to a far more trying freedom. God’s purpose for His ancient chosen people, and for Christians, his present chosen ones, is testing, struggle, problems, and victory through battle in the power of God’s word and spirit. In the Garden of Eden, God allowed Satan to come, and to Christ in the wilderness to offer presumably an easier way. We will not escape problems. We will not escape trials and temptations, but we face them with the power of God, and the word of God, and with the assurance that if we stand, we shall have victory. Therefore, Paul summons us saying, “Therefore, stand.” Let us pray.

Our Lord and our God, we thank thee for thy word. We thank thee that though this world is a place of testing and {?} of great problems and evils, thou hast called us to victory. Thou hast given us power to confront all things in thy spirit and by thy word, and to be more than conquerors in Christ. Bless us, therefore, that in all these things we may move in Christ and in Him triumph. In His name we pray. Amen. Are there any questions now about our lesson? Yes? [00:27:36]

[Audience] The word wilderness is used here, today

[Audience] The word wilderness is used here, today we normally think of a wilderness as a wilderness of trees, but can that word also be applied to a desert?

[Rushdoony] Yes, in the Bible the word wilderness meant an area not subjected to man’s cultivation, development, or any kind of activity. So, wilderness normally referred to a forested area. It could refer to deserts, but that was not the primary meaning. It is therefore, a misunderstanding on the part of people to think of the forty years of wandering in the wilderness that they were wandering in a desert terrain. It has reference to an area that man had not yet subjugated. In fact, all of Arabia, as I have pointed out on other occasions was, in those days, highly forested, and many of the peoples there made their living, in fact it was one of the major activities, to harvest the forests, make charcoal of the wood, and to sell the charcoal in Egypt and elsewhere. So, charcoal production was, in very ancient Arabia, a major source of activity, and of course, as with the Turkish rule, all the forests disappeared; the streams also disappeared, the watersheds. The same thing happened in north Africa. It was once a very heavily populated area. In part, it was a weather change, but even after the weather changed, in Roman times, it was still very populous and a grain growing area. If you imagine, let us say, the plain states where grain is grown, and imagine all of that being devastated by an abuse of the soil, and a destruction of all the watersheds, then you’ll get an idea of what happened. We have the Dustbowl in the thirties. Well, if a land is mistreated and overworked, it becomes a permanent dustbowl, as the Sahara has become, and there are parts of this country that are productive that get about the same rainfall as much of the Sahara. The difference is what man has done to it. [00:31:11]

[Audience] The reason I wondered is the maps they have

[Audience] The reason I wondered is the maps they have in the back of Bible that I have show that the Moab region was high mountain desert and all the forests were down at the lower elevation, which is just the reverse of what we have here.

[Rushdoony] Yes, well, the forests were everywhere originally, in all that land, and in Abraham’s day, a good deal of the Sahara, not only had trees but lakes and streams, crocodiles, hippopotamus, and other aquatic creatures, and in some of the desert areas, the wall paintings by some of the early inhabitants portray those animals, but all that has, of course, turned to desert and in recent years, the desert has been moving further south. But water is a major problem in that area, and Turkey has been damming the rivers, the Tigris and the Euphrates, their sources, one of them already dammed, which would mean that some of those countries like Iraq would be reduced to desert, and there’s future trouble over that fact alone. Any other questions or comments? Yes?

[Audience] In view of world events right now as it’s happening, how does that equate to the post-millennial view that things are going to be better before the Second Coming?

[Rushdoony] It applies in this respect, that before God can bless His people, He’s got to do some clean up work, so what we’re seeing is a growing judgment, and we will see it in economics, it’s beginning already. We will see it in weather, we will see it in diseases, we will see it conflicts and the break up of states. So, in a number of ways, the Lord is destroying the present world order, and while it will be a difficult time to live through, it should be a very encouraging time for us, because out of it is going to come a greater freedom for Christ and His kingdom, and for Christian work, than ever before. So, we need to see it as a time of opportunity. The Chinese pictograph for the word crisis is made up of two symbols meaning danger and opportunity, so crisis, in civilization, using the Chinese term, is a dangerous opportunity. So, we are confronted by God with a growing dangerous opportunity. Any other questions or comments? Well, if not, let us conclude with prayer. [00:35:25]

Our Father, we thank thee that, day after day, thou

Our Father, we thank thee that, day after day, thou dost give us opportunities for growth, for learning, things that will bring us closer to thee and to thy kingdom. Grant that we use these things, not to complain, but to see thy face and to grow by thy spirit and by thy word. Thy ways, oh Lord, are great and marvelous and we praise thee. And now go in peace. God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit bless you and keep you, guide and protect you this day and always. Amen. [00:36:26]

End of tape

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