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Deuteronomy 1, Part 2, The Detour around Edom

Jun 09, 2012

Deuteronomy is a series of 12 speeches that Moses gave just before he died. These are dated in verse 3,

(3) And it came about in the fortieth year, on the first day of the eleventh month, that Moses spoke to the children of Israel, according to all that the Lord had commanded him to give to them, (4) after he had defeated Sihon the king of the Amorites, who lived in Heshbon, and Og the king of Bashan, who lived in Ashtaroth and Edrei.

After Israel's 40-year judgment drew to to a close, Moses again led Israel back to Kadesh-barnea, the place where the 12 spies had given their report in Num. 13 and 14. Num. 20:1 says,

(1) Then the sons of Israel, the whole congregation, came to the wilderness of Zin in the first month; and the people stayed at Kadesh. Now Miriam died there and was buried there.

This would have been "the first month" of their 40th year in the wilderness. They remained in Kadesh for nearly a full year before journeying to the plains of Moab where Moses gave his speeches in preparation for his own death. During that year at Kadesh, Moses struck the rock instead of speaking to it (Num. 20:11), and this disobedience disqualified him from entering the Promised Land. Verse. 12 says,

(12) But the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, "Because you have not believed Me, to treat Me as holy in the sight of the sons of Israel, therefore you shall not bring this assembly into the land which I have given them.

Kadesh means "holy." As the leader, Moses set an example of rebellion against God. Moses usurped the authority of God instead of acting as a steward. They received water from the rock, but all partook of the liability for rebellion.

(13) Those were the waters of Meribah ["contention"], because the sons of Israel contended with the Lord, and He proved Himself holy among them.

In other words, Israel contended with God over their lack of water, accusing God of incompetency for leading them to a dry place. Moses too was caught up in the rebellion by striking the rock, thus usurping sovereignty from God. Aaron, too, representing priestly authority, was also implicated (Num. 20:24).

This is very important to understand, because "the church in the wilderness" under Moses is a prophetic type that has been repeated in the 40 Jubilees of NT Church history up to the present time. The story prophesies of our own time, when church and national leadership would rebel against God and usurp His sovereignty. In America we see this most clearly in the past century when God has been removed from schools and all public institutions. Government has usurped the sovereignty of God, pretending to be the highest authority.

The government, representing the people, has contended with God and has not treated God as "holy." Kadesh means "holy." In order to enter the Promised Land from Kadesh, the nation must proclaim God to be holy. To be holy means to be sanctified or called to a particular position of divine service. In this case it means recognizing that God is the lawful King of the nation and the whole world by right of creation. When America "contended with God" and removed God from His rightful place as King, the people and leaders refused to recognize the holiness of God.

Take note how Israel's pattern has affected us today. Immediately after this incident, verse 14 tells us of the plan to enter Canaan from a different entry point. No longer could they go in by the "highway of holiness" (kadesh) according to Isaiah 35:8, but would have to find an alternative entry point. Moses sent messengers to the king of Edom asking him for safe passage through the northern corner of Edom, in order to enter Canaan via the Jordan River.

Edom's response is told in Num. 20:20-22,

(20) But he said, "You shall not pass through." And Edom came out against him with a heavy force, and with a strong hand. (21) Thus Edom refused to allow Israel to pass through his territory, so Israel turned away from him. (22) Now when they set out from Kadesh, the sons of Israel, the whole congregation, came to Mount Hor.

Israel left Kadesh and marched east across the Arabah to Mount Hor, which was about a day's travel on the border of Edom. This relocation alarmed a Canaanite king known as the King of Arad, who lived just north of Mount Hor (Num. 21:1). Instead of inquiring about Israel's intentions, he assumed that they intended to force their way through Edomite territory and would come through Arad. He saw himself threatened and declared war. In the first battle, they caught Israel by surprise, and were able to take some Israelites captive. The Israelites then responded and destroyed them and their cities (21:3).

Aaron died at Mount Hor, even as his sister Miriam had died a year earlier. Then Israel turned south to the northern tip of the Gulf of Aqaba in order to go the long way around Edom in the Arabian desert. The people again ran out of food and water (21:5). They complained as usual, and God sent fiery serpents to judge them, and a bronze serpent to heal them. Finally, they arrived at the border of Moab and the Amorites.

Israel then sent messengers to Sihon, king of the Amorites, requesting safe passage. Sihon decided to fight, and Israel defeated them and took their territory east of the Jordan River. Further north, King Og of Bashan also lost a war with Israel, and their land was eventually given to half of the tribe of Manasseh.

The Edomite detour at the end of Israel's wilderness journey was a prophetic type of our present-day "detour" that began in 1948. Edom was eventually absorbed by Judea and the people forced to become Jews in 126 B.C. Hence, the Jews are fulfilling a dual role in prophecy, first the "evil fig" remnant of Judah, and also Edom. The Israeli state is the fruitless fig tree that was to come back to life and bring forth more fig leaves (Matt. 24:32). It is also the point where Jacob was required to give the stolen birthright back to Esau-Edom in order to allow Esau to prove himself unworthy.

The full story is written in my book, The Struggle for the Birthright.

The year 1948 ought to have seen the establishment of the Kingdom, for it was 8 x 414 years after the original Babylonian captivity (Judges 3:8-10). The year 1948 was also 6 x 414 years since the fall of Babylon in 537 B.C. See chapter 10 of Secrets of Time.

Because Edom refused to give Israel passage at the end of the wilderness journey, it also delayed the antitype, which is seen in our own time. We again have a detour around Edom that has delayed the inheritance in the Promised Land. Yet we also know that all obstructions can only delay the promises of God until the appointed time. Even Israel would not be able to enter the Promised Land until the time of Passover, 40 years after leaving Egypt. Neither Edom nor Sihon nor Og could delay Israel's entry beyond the appointed time in the divine plan.

Moses finally died at Mount Nebo in the land of Moab just before Israel crossed the Jordan into the Promised Land. Though he was a type of Christ in one sense, he played a dual role in prophecy, because he was also the leader of the rebellion that had made it necessary to make the detour around Edom. That part of the story is being fulfilled in modern prophecy as well, affecting all of us.

Our hope, however, is that we are part of the overcomer company, represented by Caleb and Joshua.

This is the second part of a series titled "Deuteronomy 1." To view all parts, click the link below.

Deuteronomy 1

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Category: God's Law
Blog Author: Dr. Stephen Jones