Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Dealing with Family and Foe: Deuteronomy 2-3

Compare Deuteronomy 2:1-3:22 with Numbers 20:14-25:16 and some interesting things appear.  First, take a look at the sequence of events.

Deuteronomy Numbers
Approach to Edom
Approach to Moab
Approach to Ammon
Defeat of Heshbon
Defeat of Bashan
Contact with Edom
(Defeat of Arad)¹
Defeat of Heshbon
Defeat of Bashan
Contact with Moab

¹ Arad is noted for consistency of the text but is unnecessary for the argument.

Notice the differences.  Why do they exist?  Multiple theories have been brought forth, but the simplest seems to be that: (1) Numbers gives the
events in such a way that they point to Israel not remaining holy to the Lord.  God had been faithful these past decades.  He had interceded on their behalf in Balaam's life.  He had warned the nation to not take on the practices of other nations.  Yet in the face of all these, they fell into sin and had to be judged.  And (2) Deuteronomy establishes which areas were to be left alone because of familial ties (Edom, Moab, Ammon) versus which were identified for Israel to conquer and possess.  This makes sense in light of the preceding chapter which had revisited the failure to take the land of promise.

The Lord values family ties, so we should as well.  The command to Israel was to not contend with nations related to them but instead go out of their way to be respectable and just in all their dealings though they ended up being abused from each of the three nations.

Wicked family members can lead us into sin.  The fact that I am related to someone does not automatically allow me to assume that family or family member is looking out for my best interests.  Just the opposite may be the case.

Evil needs to be eradicated.  Whether on a personal or corporate level, sin and evil is warring against what all that is godly and must be checked.  For the Christian, this means:

Romans 8:12-13
So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh.  For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.

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