A Portrait in Providential Leadership
One generation fails the Lord but another succeeds at the same challenge. On this rest the future of God’s purposes. Someone somewhere will respond to a challenge which others thought impossible to dream, much less achieve. So chapters two and three are a study in providential leadership as God led the battered Israelites across the wilderness, searching for the promise made to Abraham. God may give us up to our own rebellious ways, but He never gives up on us. That is humanities hope. And that was the hope of Israel.
Command of God for a Chastened People 1-3
Israel turned back from Kadesh and moved southeastward toward the Gulf of Aqaba. They wandered for many days until the Lord called them to leave as He had done at Sinai. Those words are a call to every battered person: “You have circled this mountain long enough. Now turn north.” Northward lay the Promised Land and that was the land that God was leading them to. Chastened by their failure and anxious because of their travail, Israel responded to God’s command that they would not outlive their dream. They would march northward where the purpose of God lay.
Consideration for God’s Purposes 4-23
As the Israelites traveled towards the Promised Land they respected the lands given to Esau and Lot. Israel was not allowed to encroach on the land of Moab, as that land had been given to the sons of Lot.
Israel was commanded to follow the valley where the brook Zered was the dividing line between Edom and Moab. The hand of the Lord was usually issued in reference to helping Israel but in verses 15 the hand of the Lord is used against the Israelites who were not allowed to enter into the Promised Land.
As they moved toward the Promised Land they were warned not to bother the Ammonites. God had promised this land to the sons of Lot. Although the focus is for a later generation there is a larger purpose for Israel to not conquer this land. The Lord respects the promises that He has made and has kept each and every one reaching back to the patriarchs. God is faithful in His purposes both for Israel and for others.
Conquest of the Noncoopperative 24-37
Sihon the King of Heshbon had not shared in the old promises of God and did not serve the Lord’s purposes during the pilgrimage of God’s people. God handed them over to the Israelite people.