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14. Cleaning Up Loose Ends

August 14, 2009

Text:      Numbers 33:1-36:13

Outline:      I. Israel’s Exodus Defined           Numbers 33:1-49

                         II. Israel’s Instructions for Occupation      Numbers 33:50-56

                         III. Israel’s Boundaries Defined       Numbers 34:1-12

                         IV. Division of Land Defined        Numbers 34:13-29

                         V. Levi’s Inheritance Defined       Numbers 35:1-8

                        VI. Cities of Refuge Defined            Numbers 35:9-33

                        VII. Maintain Your Tribe’s Inheritance      Numbers 36:1-13

Context/Discussion/Comments:

     Actually Moses has been cleaning up loose ends since Numbers 26 and the anointing of Joshua to replace him in Numbers 27. Chapter 33 begins with a review of Israel’s Exodus, providing us with a detailed account of their route and where they camped.

     The Lord asks Moses to provide a record of Israel’s journey from Egypt to the Promised Land. They make 11 stops from Ramses to Mt. Sinai. They make 22 stops from Mt. Sinai to Mt Hor where Aaron died after 40 years of being Israel’s High Priest. They camped 8 more times in going from Mt. Hor to the Plains of Moab.

     The Lord makes it clear to Israel that they are to drive out all the inhabitants in the land, destroy their idols, destroy their places of worship, and settle in the land. They are to divide the land according to tribes and the number in their clans. Failure to drive out the inhabitants will cause problems for them later on and will force God to drive them out too.

     Israel’s boundaries are now clearly defined. Their southern boundary will be from the Dead Sea to the Desert of Zin then south to Kadesh and then west along the wadi of Egypt to the Mediterranean Sea. Their western boundary will be the Mediterranean Sea. Their northern boundary starts at the Sea and goes east and north to Hazor Enon. Their eastern boundary goes south to Shephon and includes all of the Sea of Galilee and Jordan River ending at the Dead Sea.

     This land is to be divided among the 9 1/2 tribes. The remaining 2 1/2 tribes have already been given land east of the Jordan River. The land will be divided by Eleazar, Joshua, and a leader from each tribe. Levi is not included. The Levites are to be given towns in the land and pasture land around the towns out 1500 feet X 3000 feet on each side for their livestock. Six of their towns will be designated cities of refuge out of a total of 48 towns. The number of towns to be give to the Levites is in direct proportion to the number of towns a tribe has inherited.

     The six cities of refuge are to be divided, 3 on each side of the Jordan. Those cities are refuges for those accused of murder until they can stand trial. Murder is defined as someone who takes the life of another, premeditated or not. That person must die. Those accused of accidental death whose intent was not to harm must face trial and if found guilty, he must stay in the city of refuge until a new High Priest is anointed. No one must be put to death without having more than one witness nor must anyone accept bribes in favor of a lenient ruling. Israel is to follow these rules so as not to pollute or defile the land.

     The leader of Manesseh raises a question concerning the possible inheritance of land going to other tribes as a result of the ruling concerning Zelophehad’s daughters. The Lord resolves it by stating the daughters may marry only within their tribal clan, thus preventing unfair land grabs.

Lessons/Applications:

1. God keeps His promises.

• He redeemed His people and is about to restore them in the Promised Land.

• He is fair and just, dividing the Land according to the size of the tribes and their clans.

• He clearly defines His land to be inherited.

• He provides for Levi even though they are not included in the division of land.

• Those accused of murder are given refuge until tried, assuring justice is served and not revenge.

• The rules governing the inheritance by tribe are sacred. God favors tribal autonomy.

2. God is fair and just, providing equally for all His people. God does not show favoritism. All are equal in His sight and are treated that way.

3. God continually reminds us as to what He considers important.

4. Note the details of your life’s journey. Praise Him, thank Him, and worship Him because He cares for you, He loves you, and He protects you.

5. God’s inheritance is most generous. It was for Israel and it is for us too who have placed our faith in Him. [see Eph. 1]

6. Remove and destroy all that would prevent you from giving the Lord God your full attention and worship. His promise to “deliver us from evil” requires we remove all articles of temptation from our lives.

7. There are two sides to every situation, every story. Before exercising judgment, big or small, seek at least two other witnesses and/or opinions. Doing so brings to light God’s wisdom and God’s truth.

8. God supports tribal autonomy. Consider this; perhaps these 12 tribes are analogous to the many Christian denominations that exist today. We have unity because we worship the one true God, the Lord Jesus Christ. We believe the Bible is God’s Word, inspired by Him through man. But we still have different beliefs, different personalities and different backgrounds which cause us to have different views in minor doctrinal areas but not in major doctrinal areas such as believing in one triune God and the incarnation of Jesus Christ who died for our sin.

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