|Volume 19 Number 3 March 2017||
The focus in the February article on this subject was Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel, Sodom and Gomorrah, Joseph and his brothers, and David and Bathsheba. Three additional accounts point to the realization that all sin is first committed against God. Scripture reveals that sin separates us from God (Isaiah 59:1-2). This separation means eternal condemnation. The holiness of God demands that sin be punished or atonement be made so that it can be forgiven. “Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered” (Psalm 32:1).
The Request of the Children of
Rueben and the Children of Gad
Numbers 32 details the request of the children of Reuben and Gad. They asked Moses, Eleazar the priest and the leaders of the congregation to let the land they occupied be given to them as a possession. They did not want to cross over the Jordan (Numbers 32:1-5). Numbers 32:6-7 reads, “And Moses said to the children of Gad and to the children of Rueben: ‘Shall your brethren go to war while you sit here? Now why will you discourage the heart of the children of Israel from going over into the land which the LORD has given them?’”
Moses reminded them of the LORD’s anger with their fathers who had returned from spying out the land of Canaan with their evil report. God swore that none of the men who came up from Egypt from 20-years-old and above would see Canaan, except Joshua and Caleb because they had wholly followed Him (Numbers 32:8-12). Numbers 32:13-15 reads:
So the LORD’s anger was aroused against Israel, and He made them wander in the wilderness forty years, until all the generation that had done evil in the sight of the LORD was gone. And look! You have risen in your fathers’ place, a brood of sinful men, to increase still more the fierce anger of the LORD against Israel. For if you turn away from following Him, He will once again leave them in the wilderness, and you will destroy all these people.
The men of the children of Rueben and Gad told Moses they would build sheepfolds for their livestock, and cities for their little ones. They told Moses they would be armed, ready to go before the children of Israel until they had brought them to their place. They said their little ones would dwell in the fortified cities because of the inhabitants of the land. They said they would not return to their homes until every one of the children of Israel had received his inheritance. They said they would not inherit with them on the other side of the Jordan and beyond because their inheritance had fallen to them on the eastern side of the Jordan (Numbers 32:16-19).
Numbers 32:20-23 reads:
Then Moses said to them: “If you do this thing, if you arm yourselves before the LORD for the war, and all your armed men cross over the Jordan before the LORD and before Israel; and this land shall be your possession before the LORD. But if you do not do so then take note, you have sinned against the LORD; and be sure your sin will find you out.
The children of Gad and Rueben kept their word, and they did cross over armed for war before the LORD to battle into the land of Canaan. So Moses gave them the land with its cities within the borders, the cities of the surrounding country (Numbers 32:24-33).
The Children of Israel Rebel against God
In Deuteronomy 1, Moses spoke to the children of Israel in retrospect as he reviewed the past to remind them of God’s judgment in their times of unbelief and God’s continued provision and protection during their periods of obedience. Moses recounted to them the history of Egyptian slavery and God’s deliverance. He told them about their fathers’ refusal to enter Canaan and the subsequent forty years of wilderness wandering. Moses told them that God had been angry and took an oath saying not one of those men of that evil generation would see Canaan except Caleb because he had wholly followed Him (Deuteronomy 1:1-36).
Deuteronomy 1:37-39 reads, “The LORD was also angry with me for your sakes, saying, ‘Even you shall not go in there. Joshua the son of Nun, who stands before you, he shall go in there. Encourage him, for he shall cause Israel to inherit it. Moreover your little ones and your children, who you say will be victims… to them I will give it, and they shall possess it.’”
Deuteronomy 1:40-41 reads, “But as for you, turn and take your journey into the wilderness by the way of the Red Sea. Then you answered and said to me, ‘We have sinned against the LORD; we will go up and fight, just as the LORD our God commanded us.’ And when everyone of you had girded on his weapons of war, you were ready to go up into the mountain.”
Deuteronomy 1:42-43 reads, “And the LORD said to me, ‘Tell them, Do not go up nor fight, for I am not among you; lest you be defeated before your enemies.’ So I spoke to you; yet you would not listen, but rebelled against the command of the LORD, and presumptuously [willfully] went up into the mountain.”
Their enemies came out against them and chased them as bees do and drove them back. Then they returned and wept before the LORD, but the LORD would not listen to their voice nor give ear to them. So they remained many days where they were (Deuteronomy 1:44-46).
God Makes Saul King over Israel
First Samuel 12:1 reads, “Now Samuel said to all Israel: ‘Indeed I have heeded your voice in all that you said to me, and have made a king over you.’” This demand by the people had displeased Samuel, and he had prayed to the LORD. God told Samuel to heed the voice of the people, for they had not rejected Samuel, but they had rejected Him. God said according to all the people had done since He brought them up out of Egypt, even to that present time—they had forsaken Him and served other gods—so they were doing to Samuel also (1 Samuel 8:6-8).
God said, “Now therefore, heed their voice. However, you shall solemnly forewarn them, and show them the behavior of the king who will reign over them” (1 Samuel 8:9). Verses 10-17 detailed exactly that a king would take from among them male and female servants; their livestock, fields, vineyards, olive groves, grain and their vintage. Then Samuel said, “And you will cry out in that day because of your king whom you have chosen for yourselves, and the LORD will not hear you in that day” (1 Samuel 8:18).
“Nevertheless the people refused to obey the voice of Samuel; and they said, ‘No, but we will have a king over us, that we also may be like all the nations, and that our king may judge us and go out before us and fight our battles” (1 Samuel 8:19-20). Samuel repeated this to God, and He said, “Heed their voice, and make them a king” (1 Samuel 8:22).
First Samuel 9:15-17 reads:
Now the LORD had told Samuel in his ear the day before Saul came, saying, “Tomorrow about this time I will send you a man from the land of Benjamin, and you shall anoint him commander over My people Israel, that he may save My people from the hand of the Philistines; for I have looked upon My people, because their cry has come to Me. So when Samuel saw Saul, the LORD said to him, ‘There he is, the man of whom I spoke to you. This one shall reign over My people.’”
Samuel had heeded the voice of the people in their demand for a king. He told them it was the LORD who had raised up Moses and Aaron who brought their fathers out of Egyptian bondage. He told them the LORD had delivered them when they had forsaken Him and served Baal. He told them it was the LORD who sent the judges and delivered them out of the hand of their enemies on every side, and they had dwelt in safety (1 Samuel 12:1-11).
First Samuel 12:12 reads, “And when you saw that Nahash king of the Ammonites came against you, you said to me, ‘No, but a king shall reign over us,’ when the LORD your God was your king.” Samuel continued in verses 16-17, “Now therefore, stand and see this great thing which the LORD will do before your eyes: Is today not the wheat harvest? I will call to the LORD, and He will send thunder and rain, that you may perceive and see that your wickedness is great, which you have done in the sight of the LORD, in asking a king for yourselves.” It happened just as Samuel said, and the people greatly feared the LORD and Samuel.
The people said, “Pray for your servants to the LORD your God, that we may not die; for we have added to all our sins the evil of asking a king for ourselves” (1 Samuel 12:19). Samuel told them they had done wickedly; yet, he implored them not to turn aside from following the LORD, but to serve Him with all their heart. He pleaded with them not to turn aside to go after empty things that could not profit or deliver. He told them God would not forsake them, for His great name’s sake, because it had pleased God to make them His people (1 Samuel 12:20-22).
Samuel’s concluding words are striking, being filled with his commitment to God and the utmost concern for His people. “Moreover, as for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the LORD, in ceasing to pray for you; for I will teach you the good and the right way. Only fear the LORD, and serve Him in truth with all your heart; for consider what great things He has done for you. But if you still do wickedly, you shall be swept away, both you and your king” (1 Samuel 12:23-25).
God’s law of sowing and reaping is irrevocable. Cecil May, Jr. wrote an article in Gospel Advocate, May 2016, entitled, “The Law of Sowing and Reaping.” He said, “Whatever one sows is what will be reaped. That ‘law of sowing and reaping’ seems to be woven into the thread of the universe, much like the law of gravity. Christians and non-Christians alike find themselves cursed by their sowing of evil through reaping disastrous consequences and blessed by generous giving and performing good works. The law of sowing and reaping has three corollaries.
Sin is the fatal disease of the human race, and there is no cure except through the blood of Jesus Christ. We must contact His blood through our obedience to the Gospel. “To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood, and has made us kings and priests to His God and Father, to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen” (Revelation 1:5b-6).