This morning, we continued reading with our kids on the Biblical history behind the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I had them scan through their memory and understanding of history from Isaac to Moses until we arrived at the point that God approaches Moses from the burning bush:
The LORD said, “I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering. So I have come down to rescue them from the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land into a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey —the home of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites. And now the cry of the Israelites has reached me, and I have seen the way the Egyptians are oppressing them. So now, go. I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people the Israelites out of Egypt.”Exodus 3:7-10
As God commissions Moses to go and bring his people out of Egypt, he tells him that he will send his people into Canaan, the land of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites.
Of course, this means that war is coming. These other people won’t just move out of the land willingly because one people say that God said told them that this was now their land. Nonetheless, this is the plan that God puts before Moses, which is, of course, a continuation of the plan that he had told to Abraham and Isaac which we saw in the previous readings.
Joshua leads the Israelites across the Jordan River
Moses leads the Israelites out of Egypt and God takes them through the desert, right up to the point where they need to cross the Jordan River and enter into the land. Moses sends spies into the land, most of whom come back reporting that the people there seem like giants to them while they seem like grasshoppers from their perspective. Hmmm… What to do?
Out of fear that they will be destroyed, Moses flinches and doesn’t trust God to enter into the Promised Land, and as a result, God sends he and the rest of the Israelites wandering through the desert for the next 40 years. Moses is not allowed to enter into the Promised Land.
But Joshua is next in line to take leadership of the people and he has learned the lesson to not fear but instead to move forward. As a result, as we go into the first chapter of the book of Joshua, we see that God commands Joshua to take the people across the Jordan River and Joshua starts preparing immediately:
After the death of Moses the servant of the LORD, the LORD said to Joshua son of Nun, Moses’ aide: “Moses my servant is dead. Now then, you and all these people, get ready to cross the Jordan River into the land I am about to give to them —to the Israelites. I will give you every place where you set your foot, as I promised Moses. Your territory will extend from the desert to Lebanon, and from the great river, the Euphrates —all the Hittite country—to the Mediterranean Sea in the west. No one will be able to stand against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you. Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their ancestors to give them.
“Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.”
So Joshua ordered the officers of the people: “Go through the camp and tell the people, ‘Get your provisions ready. Three days from now you will cross the Jordan here to go in and take possession of the land the LORD your God is giving you for your own.’”
But to the Reubenites, the Gadites and the half-tribe of Manasseh, Joshua said, “Remember the command that Moses the servant of the LORD gave you after he said, ‘The LORD your God will give you rest by giving you this land.’ Your wives, your children and your livestock may stay in the land that Moses gave you east of the Jordan, but all your fighting men, ready for battle, must cross over ahead of your fellow Israelites. You are to help them until the LORD gives them rest, as he has done for you, and until they too have taken possession of the land the LORD your God is giving them. After that, you may go back and occupy your own land, which Moses the servant of the LORD gave you east of the Jordan toward the sunrise.”
Then they answered Joshua, “Whatever you have commanded us we will do, and wherever you send us we will go. Just as we fully obeyed Moses, so we will obey you. Only may the LORD your God be with you as he was with Moses. Whoever rebels against your word and does not obey it, whatever you may command them, will be put to death. Only be strong and courageous! ”Joshua 1
God explains *again* to Joshua that he will take them into the same land that we saw he had promised previously to Abraham, Isaac, and Moses. He again explains the borders of the land.
As I mention above, war is coming, and Joshua knows it. He goes to the Reubenites, the Gadites, and the half-tribe of Manasseh, who had previously requested to have their land to the east of the Jordan River and he says that they must cross over the river with them even though they are already on the east side of the river where their land will be and would just need to move north. Why? They will fight against the people that are in the land alongside of the rest of the Israelite tribes until the other tribes are settled, just as they had promised Moses that they would do when their land was assigned to them.
Want to go in greater depth on the subject of the Israelites entering and taking the land of Canaan? Go read this article over at the Bible Project:
Why is this relevant?
So how is this relevant to the Palestinian-Israelite struggle happening today? Two reasons:
- God gives the land of Canaan to the line of Isaac, not to the people that are in the land, nor to the line of Ishmael.
- The Israelites will have to take it by force, forming the foundation of the struggle for this land that we see playing out even today.
Next study is tomorrow…more to come!