no is enough

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Deuteronomy 3:23-26

Deuteronomy 3:23 “At that time I begged Yahveh, and this is what I said:

Deuteronomy 3:24 Yahveh God, you have begun to show your greatness and your strong hand to your servant, because what god is there in the sky or on the land who can perform deeds and mighty acts like yours?

Deuteronomy 3:25 Please let me cross over and see the beautiful land on the other side of the Jordan, that good hill country and Lebanon.

Deuteronomy 3:26 “But Yahveh was angry with me because of you and would not listen to me. Yahveh said to me, ‘That’s enough! Do not speak to me again about this matter.

no is enough

If anyone ever had a truly personal relationship with God, Moses did. Yet that personal relationship with God did not guarantee that Moses would always want what God wants. Moses wanted to see the land that he had been leading the Israelites to. God didn’t want that. God didn’t even want Moses to keep praying for that.

The Bible does encourage believers to keep storming heaven with our prayers. We should always pray and never give up. But if God has his reasons for not giving us what we want, we need to respect that. Paul fervently prayed for removal of his thorn in the flesh. But God said no. Paul learned to glory in that weakness.

Lord, we trust you. When you say no, that is enough for us.

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Seeing his imprint

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Deuteronomy 3:21-22 (JDV)

Deuteronomy 3:21 “I commanded Joshua at that time, and this is what I said: Your own eyes have seen everything Yahveh your God has done to these two kings. Yahveh will do the same to all the kingdoms you are about to enter.

Deuteronomy 3:22 Don’t be afraid of them, because Yahveh your God fights for you.

Seeing his imprint

Moses had been given the task of strengthening Joshua. Part of the task was training him to register what he had seen with his own eyes. Faith for Joshua began when he dared to believe that God was fighting for him. It was not so much seeing what was not there as it was recognizing what was. The defeat of Sihon and Og was either luck or God. Moses taught Joshua to see God’s imprint.

Lord, you are at work in our lives. Open our eyes so that we can see your imprint.

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sacrificing for your brothers

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Deuteronomy 3:18-20 (JDV)

Deuteronomy 3:18 “I commanded you at that time: and this is what I said: Yahveh your God has given you this land to take possession of. All your militarily qualified sons1 will cross over in battle formation ahead of your brothers the Israelites.

Deuteronomy 3:19 But your wives, dependents, and livestock – I know that you have a lot of livestock – will stay in the cities I have given you

Deuteronomy 3:20 until Yahveh gives rest to your brothers as he has to you, and they also take possession of the land Yahveh your God is giving them across the Jordan. Then each of you may return to his possession that I have given you.

sacrificing for your brothers

At this stage, there was already considerable land and several cities which had been conquered. But Yahveh did not want the young men who were qualified to fight to stay behind in that territory. He wanted them to keep fighting so that their brothers would also have some of the land God had promised. This meant that they would have to temporarily leave their wives, children, and possessions. They were being challenged to sacrifice for the benefit of their brothers.

God has not called us to obtain land, but to make disciples in every land. It is fitting as we consider this new mission for us to ask how we can best secure a place in the kingdom for our brothers and sisters who are not yet in it. We should take those best qualified for missionary service, and send them to the field. Such service requires sacrifice on the part of the missionaries, and their senders.

Lord, give us the courage to send our best qualified to enlarge your kingdom.


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there will be giants

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Deuteronomy 3:8-11 (JDV)

Deuteronomy 3:8 “At that time we took the land from the two Amorite kings across the Jordan, from the Arnon Valley as far as Mount Hermon,

Deuteronomy 3:9 which the Sidonians call Sirion, but the Amorites call Senir,

Deuteronomy 3:10 all the cities of the plateau, Gilead, and Bashan as far as Salecah and Edrei, cities of Og’s kingdom in Bashan.

Deuteronomy 3:11 (Only King Og of Bashan was left of the remnant of the Rephaim. Notice his bed was made of iron. Isn’t it in Rabbah of the Ammonites? It is nine cubits1 long and four cubits2 wide by a standard measure.)

there will be giants

The Rephaim were a race of giants who populated the lands destined to be occupied by Israel. Og was a descendant of this race. No doubt he was a frightening sight in battle. But the Israelites had learned that no one can stand in their way when they were going God’s way.

Christians will also face giants as they pursue the mission of spreading the gospel to the nations. One by one these giants will appear, and one by one they must be defeated by the reality of God’s truth.

What giants are you facing? Don’t be afraid of them. God has put them in your way because he wants the glory when you push through them.

Lord, bring on the giants. When we are going your way, we are invincible.

113 1/2 feet

26 feet

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success without settling

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Deuteronomy 3:1-3 (JDV)

Deuteronomy 3:1 “Then we turned and went up the road to Bashan, and King Og of Bashan came out against us with his whole army to do battle at Edrei.

Deuteronomy 3:2 But Yahveh said to me, ‘Do not be afraid of him, because I have handed him over to you along with his whole army and his land. Do to him as you did to King Sihon of the Amorites, who lived in Heshbon.’

Deuteronomy 3:3 So Yahveh our God also handed over King Og of Bashan and his whole army to us. We struck him until there was no survivor left.

success without settling

The Israelites had just won a major victory and were in possession of considerable land. Some might have been tempted to stay and settle and solidify their holdings. But that is not what happened. They turned and went up the road to Bashan – right in the face of another king with a formidable army.

Our mission today as disciples of Christ is not to gain territory but to rescue people from slavery to sin. We cannot afford to settle for success in only one place. We have to keep moving, keep preaching the gospel, keep making disciples.

Lord, give us the tenacity of warriors who succeed without settling.

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his campaign, his limits

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Deuteronomy 2:34-37 (JDV)

Deuteronomy 2:34 At that time we captured all his cities and completely destroyed the people of every city, including the women and children. We left no survivors.

Deuteronomy 2:35 We took only the livestock and the spoil1 from the cities we captured as plunder2 for ourselves.

Deuteronomy 2:36 There was no city that was inaccessible to us, from Aroer on the rim of the Arnon Valley, along with the city in the valley, even as far as Gilead. Yahveh our God gave everything to us.

Deuteronomy 2:37 But you did not go near the Ammonites’ land, all along the bank of the Jabbok River, the cities of the hill country, or any place about which Yahveh our God had commanded.

his campaign, his limits

The victory over Sihon’s cities was a demonstration of success, including the fact that the Israelites were careful not to overstep the boundaries that God had set. That showed faith in God to give them victory, and respect for the limits God had set for the campaign.

When we want to reach people with the gospel, perhaps we need to first spend time praying over where the Lord wants to send us. Let him set the limits for us, determining which target groups we should be seeking to reach.

Lord, teach us how to discipline ourselves so that we are attempting the missions you want us to be involved in.



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victory in line with the mission

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Deuteronomy 2:31-33 (JDV)

Deuteronomy 2:31 “Then Yahveh said to me, ‘See, I have begun to give Sihon and his land to you. Begin to take possession of it.’

Deuteronomy 2:32 So Sihon and his whole army came out against us for battle at Jahaz.

Deuteronomy 2:33 Yahveh our God handed him over to us, and we defeated him, his sons, and his whole army.

victory in line with the mission

Finally a victory came after almost 40 years of wandering and wondering. The victory came because God planned it, announced it, and his people believed and acted on what God said. Also, and more importantly – the victory was in line with the mission. God’s mission for the Israelites was to possess the land he had promised them – a portion of which was currently under the feet of these Amorites. We can be more assured that we can get the victories we pray for if they are in line with God’s mission for us. His mission for us is not to possess a land but to disciple the nations in every land.

Lord, lead us to victory by allowing us to share the gospel and reach the nations for Christ.

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evidence of enmity

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Deuteronomy 2:26-30 (JDV)

Deuteronomy 2:26 “So I sent messengers with an offer of peace to King Sihon of Heshbon from the open country of Kedemoth, and this is what they said:

Deuteronomy 2:27 ‘Let us travel through your land; we will keep strictly to the highway. We will not turn to the right or the left.

Deuteronomy 2:28 You can sell us food in exchange for silver so we may eat, and give us water for silver so we may drink. Only let us travel through on foot,

Deuteronomy 2:29 just like the descendants of Esau who live in Seir did for us, and the Moabites who live in Ar, until we cross the Jordan into the land Yahveh our God is giving us.’

Deuteronomy 2:30 But King Sihon of Heshbon would not let us travel through his land, because Yahveh your God had made his breath1 stubborn and his heart obstinate in order to hand him over to you, as has now taken place.

evidence of enmity

The Israelites had learned from God that Sihon was going to be their enemy, but that did not imply that they should go immediately onto the offensive. No, they appealed to Sihon to treat them just like the Edomites and Moabites did. They waited for Sihon to demonstrate his animosity.

I have been relating these stories to the question of how Christians should live their lives today. I suggested yesterday that we have three categories: disciples, friends and enemies. It is not always easy to know who is an enemy of the gospel, and who is just an unbeliever who has not yet been convinced. In this case, the Israelites treated the king of the Amorites as if he were a friend until the king made that impossible.

This incident serves to illustrate a helpful principle for us. We should show the same love and trust to everyone until we see evidence that they are going to oppose us.

Lord, we trust you to guide us in our relationship with others. Give us patience to wait until the evidence proves who our enemies are.


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encountering our enemies

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Deuteronomy 2:24-25 (JDV)

Deuteronomy 2:24 “Yahveh also said, ‘Get up, move out, and cross the Arnon Valley. See, I have handed the Amorites’ King Sihon of Heshbon and his land over to you. Begin to take possession of it; engage him in battle.

Deuteronomy 2:25 Today I will begin to put the fear and dread of you on the peoples everywhere under the sky. They will hear the report about you, tremble, and be in anguish upon seeing you.’

encountering our enemies

The mission of the Israelites was to take possession of the land that God had given to them. When they encountered the Edomites and Ammonites in the previous sections of the story, God’s instruction for them was to go through their territory without engaging them. They could be resources for the Israelites, but the Israelites were not allowed to attack them.

Now things are different. God warned the Israelites that they were not going to simply walk through the land of king Sihon. He was not going to allow it.

The Christian is responsible to love his neighbor, but in many cases, that love is not going to be reciprocal. By just being honest with our beliefs, we are going to make enemies. Christians cannot compromise who we are to make friends with God’s enemies. That is not our calling.

Our mission is not to possess a land, but to make disciples within it. The land we live in will contain three types of people: other disciples, friendly unbelievers with whom we can coexist, and enemies we must show love to, but not accept unconditionally because they actively oppose Christ and the gospel.

Lord, give us the wisdom to know how to love everyone, but also to know who our friends and enemies are.

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other peoples’ future

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Deuteronomy 2:22-23 (JDV)

Deuteronomy 2:22 This was just as he had done for the descendants of Esau who lived in Seir, when he exterminated the Horites ahead of them; they took possession from them and have lived in their place until now.

Deuteronomy 2:23 The Caphtorim, who came from Caphtor, exterminated the Avvites, who lived in villages as far as Gaza, and settled in their place.

other peoples’ future

This passage sounds a bit barbaric, and some use texts like this to accuse the Bible of promoting violence and genocide. But we have to understand the message in its context. Moses was explaining why the Israelites were not allowed to eliminate the Edomites. God would allow that under certain circumstances, but this was not one. The land that Esau’s descendants owned and lived in was theirs to use, and the Israelites were not allowed to take it by force. They could not be judge, jury and executioners. God alone decided who gets to keep their land.

Being a child of God, and a member of Christ’s church has its privileges. But it does not mean I get to play God. Other peoples’ future is in his hands, not mine.

Lord, keep us out of other peoples’ business when it does not involve us.

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