When Moses retold the adventure of Israel wandering in the desert to them before they were finally going to take possession of The Promise Land, He didn’t retell them their faithlessness, whining and sin. He reminded them of the battles they fought and of how God had defeated their enemies for them and given them land that belonged to giants. He began the summation of the forty years by showing them what He had done for Esau and Lot. Then He had the ragtag group of ex-slaves battle King Sihon of Kedemoth and take his land. In today’s continuation of the recapitulation of the forty years, The Lord, speaking through Moses reminded Israel about another battle. When we consider our suffering, we don’t rehash sin and guilt, we remember God’s greatness, the battles, and the victory. Verses 1-10 read,
“Then we turned and went up the way to Bashan. And Og the king of Bashan came out against us, he and all his people, to battle at Edrei.2 But the Lord said to me, ‘Do not fear him, for I have given him and all his people and his land into your hand. And you shall do to him as you did to Sihon the king of the Amorites, who lived at Heshbon.’ 3 So theLord our God gave into our hand Og also, the king of Bashan, and all his people, and we struck him down until he had no survivor left. 4 And we took all his cities at that time—there was not a city that we did not take from them—sixty cities, the whole region of Argob, the kingdom of Og in Bashan. 5 All these were cities fortified with high walls, gates, and bars, besides very many unwalled villages. 6 And we devoted them to destruction, as we did to Sihon the king of Heshbon, devoting to destruction every city, men, women, and children. 7 But all the livestock and the spoil of the cities we took as our plunder. 8 So we took the land at that time out of the hand of the two kings of the Amorites who were beyond the Jordan, from the Valley of the Arnon to Mount Hermon 9 (the Sidonians call Hermon Sirion, while the Amorites call it Senir), 10 all the cities of the tableland and all Gilead and all Bashan, as far as Salecah and Edrei, cities of the kingdom of Og in Bashan.”
King Og was not just your average king. He was fearsome. His kingdom was large and people trembled before him. He was literally a giant among men. Verse 11 describes him.
(For only Og the king of Bashan was left of the remnant of the Rephaim. Behold, his bed was a bed of iron. Is it not in Rabbah of the Ammonites? Nine cubits was its length, and four cubits its breadth, according to the common cubit.)
The Rephaim were giants. They were the people who lived in Canaan and made Israel afraid to take possession of the Land. They were the people who lived in Ar, the land given to Lot’s descendants by the Lord. By the time Israel took Bashan, Og was the only giant left. His bed was made of iron, 4 ½ yards long and 2 yards wide. That implies that Og was about 12 feet tall. Goliath was 6’9” (1 Samuel 17:4). In the Israelites time in the wilderness, The Lord had led them first to show them He could defeat giants for them, then handed kings to them and then finally handed the last giant left to them. He taught them in a manner which first gave them head knowledge, then gave them a reason to believe, then took that knowledge and put in their hearts as faith.
They were not yet to The Promised Land, they were on the outskirts of it and God let them take the Bashan. Verses 12-17 reads,
“When we took possession of this land at that time, I gave to the Reubenites and the Gadites the territory beginning at Aroer, which is on the edge of the Valley of the Arnon, and half the hill country of Gilead with its cities. 13 The rest of Gilead, and all Bashan, the kingdom of Og, that is, all the region of Argob, I gave to the half-tribe of Manasseh. (All that portion of Bashan is called the land of Rephaim. 14 Jair the Manassite took all the region of Argob, that is, Bashan, as far as the border of the Geshurites and the Maacathites, and called the villagesafter his own name, Havvoth-jair, as it is to this day.) 15 To Machir I gave Gilead, 16 and to the Reubenites and the Gadites I gave the territory from Gilead as far as the Valley of the Arnon, with the middle of the valley as a border, as far over as the river Jabbok, the border of the Ammonites; 17 the Arabah also, with the Jordan as the border, from Chinnereth as far as the Sea of the Arabah, the Salt Sea, under the slopes of Pisgah on the east.”
They were not done with their trek yet, the land God gave them was only a small portion of what they would possess. He let them leave their women, children, and livestock there while the fighting men were to continue on. Verses 18-22 reads,
“And I commanded you at that time, saying, ‘The Lord your God has given you this land to possess. All your men of valor shall cross over armed before your brothers, the people of Israel. 19 Only your wives, your little ones, and your livestock (I know that you have much livestock) shall remain in the cities that I have given you, 20 until the Lord gives rest to your brothers, as to you, and they also occupy the land that the Lord your God gives them beyond the Jordan. Then each of you may return to his possession which I have given you.’ 21 And I commanded Joshua at that time, ‘Your eyes have seen all that the Lord your God has done to these two kings. So will the Lord do to all the kingdoms into which you are crossing. 22 You shall not fear them, for it is the Lord your God who fights for you.’”
These ex-slaves were now wealthy men of valor with so much livestock that it was prudent to leave for safe keeping with their families. The Lord had made them rich while they wandered in the wilderness. He had taught them to fight, have faith, and be strong and courageous. He had brought them from up from indigent slaves to wealthy noblemen. That is what time in the wilderness does, if we allow it. The Lord shows us His strength, He shows us we do not have to fear the enemy because He fights for us. He matures us so that we are no longer slaves to the enemy but princes in the Kingdom of God.
He has given us eternal life and we enjoy it now, but there is more fighting for us, the Lord’s courageous warriors to do. We continue on until the final battle is fought and all of us have rest together. Ephesians 6:10-13 reads,
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.
The Lord does not expect or want us to fight without Him. He was with Israel as they fought Sihon and Og and He is with us as we fight rulers, authorities and cosmic powers. He is the armor He asks us to put on. He is the Truth. He is our Righteousness. He is the Gospel of Peace and our Peace. He is our Shield and our Faith. He is our Salvation. He is the Sword of the Spirit and the Word of God. We can stand firm because we do not stand alone; The Lord is with us and He fights for us.
Moses had led the people out of Egypt. He had led the people through forty years in the wilderness. But The Lord had told him he would not enter it. Moses had an extraordinarily intimate relationship with God and He was not afraid to ask Him for more. So Moses asked God for more, he wanted to see The Promised Land. Verses 23-29 read,
“And I pleaded with the Lord at that time, saying, 24 ‘O Lord God, you have only begun to show your servant your greatness and your mighty hand. For what god is there in heaven or on earth who can do such works and mighty acts as yours? 25 Please let me go over and see the good land beyond the Jordan, that good hill country and Lebanon.’ 26 But the Lord was angry with me because of you and would not listen to me. And the Lord said to me, ‘Enough from you; do not speak to me of this matter again. 27 Go up to the top of Pisgah and lift up your eyes westward and northward and southward and eastward, and look at it with your eyes, for you shall not go over this Jordan. 28 But charge Joshua, and encourage and strengthen him, for he shall go over at the head of this people, and he shall put them in possession of the land that you shall see.’ 29 So we remained in the valley opposite Beth-peor.
The Lord would not change His mind and let Moses enter The Promised Land. He wanted us to understand the onus of responsibility the leaders hold for their charges. But He did let Moses see it. He showed Him the land and then said, ‘That’s enough! Let’s get on with business.’
Moses had seen God. Moses had been there as God himself wrote the Law onto stones, and did countless miracles. The Lord had done so many great works that they had become commonplace to Israel, yet Moses said, “you have only begun to show your servant your greatness and your mighty hand.” God has done great miracles in your life too. He resurrected you with Jesus and made you new. He has healed, provided, freed you from bondage, and more. His miracles can be so plentiful that we should just expect them, have a need and just know the Lord will meet it. We should always be aware that what we have seen god do is the smallest fraction of His greatness. When the people were dying of thirst, Moses just hit a rock with a staff and gave them water because a miracle is not too much to expect. (Exodus 17:1-7).
The Lord showed Moses His greatness in a way that Israel could not begin to grasp. But Believer, you and I are His friends too and He loves to show us who He is! He loves to do great things for us. It pleases God when we depend on Him and let Him fight for us, provide for us, and give us gifts. You may be in the wilderness, but God is showing you His might so that you can have faith enough to understand that He will always fight for you, hand giants over to you, and give you the impossible.