These are the words that Moses spoke to all Israel in the wilderness east of the Jordan, in the Arabah, opposite Suph, between Paran and Tophel, Laban, Hazeroth, and Di-zahab.
I. AN ELECT MAN, THE BEST OF THE AGE, BECOMES A MEDIUM OF REVELATION BETWEEN GOD AND MEN. As in nature, so in human life, there are numberless grades of office and of function. At Sinai, we have God, angels, Moses, priests. The transparent candor and fidelity of Moses, as a subaltern in God's great host, is a light to all future ages. As the uncreated light left an abiding impress on the face of Moses, so the known will of God shone out lustrously in Moses' life. All that Moses heard, he communicated by word, and temper, and influence, and deed.
II. MATERIAL PENURY A CONDITION FOR HEAVENLY ENRICHMENT. The scene for the revelation of God, is the wilderness. Stripped of earthly luxuries, the mind opens its portals to heavenly visitation. This is not a necessity arising out of the nature of things, but it is a necessity for man in his present state. The son of Zacharias, though a priest, turned his back upon the temple, and chose the wilderness as the theatre most suitable for his ponderous undertaking. This the spirit of prophecy had foreseen. It was in the desert, Jesus fed the thousands by a creative word. In the desert, Paul was equipped for shaking the foundations of paganism. In Patmos, John passed through- the - portals of the spirit-world.
III. HUMAN POWER IS FORMAL - GOD'S POWER REAL. To the eye of mortal sense, the Hebrews, drilled and officered, fought victoriously with Amalek and Moab; nevertheless, a clearer vision sees that it was God that slew Sihon, King of the Amorites, and 'Og, King of Bashan. Let us be sure that what we do, God does by us I Be we the agents; God the principal! In righteous warfare, "He teacheth our fingers to fight." In us hourly let God be immanent. "God wills it," therefore let us will it also. "He worketh in us."
IV. IMMEDITATION AND ACTION INTEGRAL PARTS OF HEALTHFUL LIFE. "Ye have dwelt long enough in this mount." The body may be wrecked by surfeit, as well as by hunger. Knowledge is not entirely ours, until it is reduced to practice. Heavenly wisdom is essentially practical. All light is designed for service. The doctrines of religion are raw materials, which are to be put into the warp and woof of our daily life. Is "the Lamb the light of the heavenly place?" The saints "follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth." Meditation qualifies for action; action demands new meditation. These are the two wings, without both of which the eagle cannot rise. "Come ye into the desert;" "Go and preach;" - these are the twin behests of Christ.
V. GOD'S ABSOLUTE PURPOSES LEAVE FULL SCOPE FOR MAN'S OBEDIENCE. How the two things are co-related, we cannot ascertain. The point of junction is among the incomprehensible - beneath the surface of things. There is now and again seeming discord; but as we listen on there is a profounder harmony. The Lord swore unto the patriarchs to give them the land of Canaan. Yet the spies brought back an ill report; and the people debated and murmured, vacillated and countermarched, as if they had been the umpires of their destiny.
VI. GOD'S PROVISION IS ALWAYS MORE AMPLE THAN MAN'S DESIRE. God's plan for Israel's territory extended from Mount Lebanon to the Euphrates; but Israel never rose to the full height of God's design. "Ask what I shall give thee" is still the message from heaven to every man. "Open thy mouth wide, and I will fill it." "We have not because we ask not." There is abundance of sea-room in God's plan for the largest human endeavor; and every day the voice of the Great Proprietor reminds us, "There is yet very much land to be possessed." "All things are yours." - D.
These be the words which Moses spake unto all Israel on this side Jordan in the wilderness.I. THE DATE OF THIS SERMON WHICH MOSES PREACHED TO THE PEOPLE OF ISRAEL. A great auditory no question he had, as many as could crowd within hearing, and particularly all the elders and officers, the representatives of the people; and probably it was on the Sabbath day that he delivered this to them.
1. The place where they were now encamped was in the plain, in the land of Moab (vers. 1, 5), where they were just ready to enter Canaan, and engage in a war with the Canaanites. Yet he discourseth not to them concerning military affairs, but concerning their duty to God; for if they kept themselves in His fear and favour, He would secure to them the conquest of the land; their religion would be their best policy.
2. The time was near the end of the fortieth year since they came out of Egypt. So long God had borne their manners, and they had borne their own iniquity (Numbers 14:34); and now a new and more pleasant scene was to be introduced, as a token for good, Moses repeats the law to them. Thus, after God's controversy with them for the golden calf, the first and surest sign of God's being reconciled to them was the renewing of the tables. There is no better evidence and earnest of God's favour than His putting His law in our hearts (Psalm 147:19, 20).
II. THE DISCOURSE ITSELF. In general, Moses spake unto them "all that the Lord had given him in commandment" (ver. 3), which intimates, not only that what he new delivered was for substance the same with what had formerly been commanded, but it was that God now commanded him to repeat. He gave them this rehearsal and exhortation purely by Divine direction. God appointed him to leave this legacy to the Church. He begins his narrative with their removal from Mount Sinai (ver. 6), and relates here —
1. The orders God gave them to decamp and proceed in their march (ver. 6, 7). "Ye have dwelt long enough in this mount." That was the mount that burned with fire (Hebrews 12:18), and gendered to bondage (Galatians 4:24). Thither God brought them to humble them, and by the terrors of the law to prepare them for the land of promise. There He kept them about a year, and then told them they had dwelt long enough there, they must go forward. Though God bring His people into trouble and affliction, into spiritual trouble and affliction of mind, He knows when they have dwelt long enough in it, and will certainly find a time, the fittest time, to advance them from the terrors of the spirit of bondage to the comforts of the spirit of adoption (Romans 8:15).
2. The prospect He gave them of a happy settlement in Canaan presently: "Go to the land of the Canaanites" (ver. 7). Enter and take possession; it is all your own. "Behold, I have set the land before you" (ver. 8). But when God commands us to go forward in our Christian course, He sets the heavenly Canaan before us for our encouragement.
( Matthew Henry, D. D..)
Moses spake...according unto all that the Lord had given himActs 3:6). Though the words were Moses', the thing uttered was of God. Some speak according to the wisdom of the world: they can tell much about its craft, villainy, hollowness; and they preach selfishness, more or less refined, as a means of personal defence, and the true source of success. Some speak according to one thing, others according to something else. Moses spoke according to what God had given him. He therefore spoke God's truth.
I. BECAUSE MOSES SPOKE GOD'S TRUTH HE UTTERED WHAT WOULD BE ADVANTAGEOUS TO THE PEOPLE. The path of happiness is the way of wisdom. Wisdom is happiness as well as pleasant (Proverbs 8.). True wisdom is the fear of God (Job 28:28). The man who declares God's truth instructs in wisdom and leads men to happiness. Happiness is what men are seeking. Those who conduct others into happiness meet an universal want.
II. Because Moses spoke what God gave him, HE COULD SPEAK —
1. With courage.
2. With power.
III. Because Moses spoke what God gave him to speak, HE RELIEVED HIMSELF OF RESPONSIBILITY.
1. Commissions are sometimes entrusted to men by God which they are afraid to execute. They thereby entail calamity upon themselves and all connected with them (Jonah).
2. Duties imposed by God, if neglected, bring desolation on the man and his family — Achan (Judges 7).
3. Knowledge, wisdom, visions of the Divine glory are vouchsafed to men to be used for the improvement of the world, the upholding of the Church, and the honour of God.
4. Money, influence, opportunity is entrusted to many in these days. Such is not to be lavished on ourselves. God gave it; He expects it to be used in His service.
On this side Jordan, etc
I. WHAT IS TO BE DONE DO AT ONCE. Moses on this side of Jordan began to speak. Had Moses been a boy at school he would not have put off his prayers till he got home, where there were no schoolfellows to chaff. He would have said them then and there.
II. DO NOT THINK THAT THERE WILL BE A MORE PROPITIOUS TIME THAN THE PRESENT.
1. Dallying with duties does not diminish difficulties.
2. Delay positively increases difficulties. Power unused decreases. If duty is deferred a day we are a day's wasted strength the weaker.
3. We know what is to be done now; tomorrow it may be forgotten. Cares of life may usurp attention. The duties are pushed aside — choked down — killed. Weeds grow faster than corn. Cares and duties come quicker than time.
III. DO SOME GOOD THINGS IN THIS LIFE — IN THE DESERT, SO CALLED, ON THIS SIDE OF JORDAN. Do not wait till heaven is reached, that angels alone may be witness of your good deeds. Moses did not defer till the promised land was reached. He did what he was able out of the promised land. It was well he did. He never reached Canaan. Had he put off all till then, nothing would have been done.
II. GOD ADVISES WITH REGARD TO THE NATURE, DIRECTION, AND EXTENT OF THIS ACTION.
1. Nature of the action. Let it be action with a purpose in view. Have an aim in life. "Go to the mount of the Amorites."
2. Direction of the action. Two hints with regard to that —(1) Let it go forth. It does not do for a man's action to turn in on himself. Uniform selfishness is as injurious as constant introspection; and ceaseless introspection is as ruinous as unmixed selfishness. Live for others as well as self; work for others.(2) This is modified by another hint. Go to what is near first.
3. Extent of the action. Begin at the near, then proceed to what is more remote, till the whole world is affected by your life, e.g. —(1) First to the plain. Read part of the Bible easily understood and applied. Interpret providence as far as Son can trace a Father's hands. What cannot be understood leave for a future day and clearer lights.(2) After this go to the hill. Do not mind a difficulty sometimes. A little adversity strengthens the soul. Trust is perfected in suffering.(3) Now you may proceed to the vale. There is the "valley of the shadow of death" — "the valley of humiliation" — "the valley of vision. Here the soul is quickened and brought into that region of experience that Paul designates as being "hidden with Christ in God."(4) Thus prepared with "the whole armour of God," go to the "south." Here were hills infested with foes. So the Christian, after mounting the Hill of Transfiguration with Christ, where for a moment the Divine glory is manifested, has to go back again to a world where man has to contend with demons (Matthew 17:14-18), where he has to grapple with many a spiritual foe, wolves in sheep's clothing, the lion that seeks to devour, the subtle serpent.(5) Then comes the reward. Having gone to the "south," the people might turn aside to the sea. So does God bring the Christian after long and hard toil to gaze into those depths of love and grace which are as oceans mirroring the midnight skies.(6) After such revelation of God's glory and power the people of God can go forth to war with the Canaanite. The kingdom of Christ is extended to Lebanon (the far north) — to the river (the far cast). The whole world is filled with the glory of the Lord.
III. GOD, IN HIS ADDRESS, POINTS OUT HOW RIGHTLY DIRECTED ACTION WILL BRING ITS OWN REWARD. "Behold, I have set (Hebrews 'given') the land before you: go in and possess."
1. True work is sure to bring recompense of some kind. It brings external reward. A day's work brings the day's wages. The sewings of spring are followed by the harvests of autumn. It brings an internal reward in a man's own nature and being.
2. Show what work is. Distinguish work from pleasure. Pleasure is the expending of energy without any end or purpose save the sensations caused by the act of waste, whereby pleasure has been defined as "dissipating enjoyments"; work is energy expended for a purpose. In its idea it is conservative. Work is action to get a return for the energy so spent, both to recuperate and increase the power thus employed. Pleasure seeks nothing save the sensation; work demands a recompense. God promises to work its recompense. "Go in and possess."
(J. Parker, D. D.)
Go in and possess the landI. TO GIVE A SPIRITUAL DESCRIPTION OF THE LAND WHICH JEHOVAH HATH PROPOSED AS THE END OF OUR PILGRIMAGE, AND OF WHICH WE ALL PROFESS TO BE IN SEARCH.
1. It is a land to whose delightfulness, beauty, and fertility Jehovah Himself had borne the most ample and undoubted testimony.
2. But the land of Canaan was not merely a country known by description, however magnificent and encouraging, as well as unchangeably true, the testimony of God might be concerning it. The spies who had been sent, in whatever guilty unbelief their mission originated, had searched it out, from Dan even to Beersheba; and they had brought with them of the grapes, and pomegranates, and figs, that the people might see, and taste, and judge for themselves. And what was this except a type of Christ, the true Vine, some clusters of which the searching eye of faith may see?
3. It is, moreover, a land of promise; and here is the leading feature of its peculiar preciousness. Jehovah saith not that Canaan is a country which His people might inhabit, if they could win it in their own strength; for then, where were the weapons of their successful warfare, and where the might in which to overcome their enemies? But it is a land which, in the exercise of His free and sovereign grace, He made over to them — not giving it to them because they were a great nation, for they were the fewest of all people, but because He loved them.
II. THE INJUNCTION GIVEN BY JEHOVAH TO HIS PEOPLE — "Go in, and possess the land"; and, as it is added in the twenty-third verse, where the command and promise are repeated, "Fear not, neither be discouraged." The kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force. Never imagine that the Canaan which you profess to seek will be your own without a warfare. Fight valiantly, pray fervently, trust implicitly, and you will be made more than conquerors. Neither doubt nor distrust the sure promise and inviolable covenant of an unchangeable God. Oh, how keenly should this Scripture rebuke all loiterers in the holy war! We profess to love and follow Jesus, but when He cries "Go up and possess the land," we willingly linger in the desert of our own coldness and worldly love.
(R. P. Buddicom.)we are entering a large land; not mistaking for the whole a little tract we have traversed, but convinced that there are unexplored regions yet to be brought to light. Oh, to be delivered from all narrowness in reference to our conceptions of truth, and specially of truth bearing upon our spiritual weal! There are, I know, certain teachings which are to be regarded as foundation teachings, as, for instance, the Divinity and Incarnation of Christ, the Atonement of Jesus, His victory over death, His resurrection, etc. But whilst holding these great verities of eternal truth unswervingly, let us come to the study of this Book of God believing that there are hidden treasures here, and which He will reveal to us by His Spirit if we carry on our investigation in the spirit of patience, thoughtfulness, courage, and prayer. One of the most beautiful conceptions of heaven we can possibly form is that of its being "the land of uprightness"; perfect purity, complete rectitude prevailing. And whilst it is true that heaven "remaineth to the people of God," it is also true that they who have believed enter it even here. The blessings flowing to us through our union to Christ are present, and the elements which constitute the character of the glorified in heaven are to mark, in a growing measure, God's servants who are still on earth. Be it ours, then, to go on developing in all the excellencies of the Christian character. There is a realm which must be described as one of sin and death, of bondage and darkness. Oh, to possess that land, and to transfer it to Christ, that thus, under the influence of His Spirit, its evil may give place to purity, its slavery to liberty, whilst through its chambers of death life may spread! This is our mission as the followers of the Lord Jesus. In calling us into union with Himself He calls us, in fact, into sympathy with Him in His glorious purpose of effecting the ultimate deliverance of the world from the captivity of evil. When we speak of possessing the world for Christ, what difficulties present themselves to our view! How vast is the territory yet to be covered! How inapproachable many of its tracts, so that noble lives are sacrificed by the way, or reach their destination only to die! How unhealthy the climates, and how unyielding the superstitions! How the work is impeded, too, by the policy of governments, taking the carnal weapons where we would use the spiritual, and introducing the soldier where we would plant the missionary. Truly, there are many hindrances. But we will not despair. It is the cause of God in which we are enlisted. When He works, who shall hinder?
(S. D. Hillman, B. A.)
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