Moses is recounting God’s continued building up of the new generation. He is strengthening their faith as well as putting terror into the hearts of those watching them.
Og was one of the descendants of the Rephaim that Israel feared when they spied out the Promised Land the first time. The Rephaim were extraordinarily large and strong. They were the “mighty men of valor” in the tales of old. They were also thought to be the descendants of intermingling relationships with “the sons of God and the daughters of man.” We don’t know exactly what this means but we do know that they were feared and revered.
The cities that Israel took in the battles for the kingdom belonging to Og were 60 “fortified with high walls, gates and bars” (verse 5) as well as unwalled villages. Israel took EVERY ONE of these cities and treated them just as they did the cities of Sihon. They left no survivors besides livestock. I notice also that they didn’t report any losses. We don’t know for certain that there weren’t any but they were small enough that they were not mentioned in Moses’ narrative.
Rephaim and fortified cities were two of the main reasons the spies spoke against going into the land the first time. You will notice that the circumstances didn’t change when this new generation was given the order to move in. Something else didn’t change between the two opportunities; the Lord. God was just as able the first time to give Israel victory as He was this time. What was different was the people’s faith and willingness to follow Him.
What a difference that made! From being cast out of the promise and wandering around waiting to die, to being victorious and receiving a new home. I’m going to say it right now; I am AMAZED at the change!
Even knowing the outcome of the story before we sat down to read together doesn’t diminish my wonder. What I’m in awe of is not God’s ability to do what He said He would. It isn’t even the magnitude of the task He had them undertake. What blows me away is the faith that this generation had even after being raised by a faithless generation.
The original generation never stopped complaining until the day the last one of them died off. They were the ones being punished at Peor. They were the ones who frustrated Moses so much that he committed the sin of striking the rock. Yet this generation’s attitude did NOT pass on to their children.
I have no doubt that there were some who believed scattered about in the first generation but there couldn’t have been enough of them to raise up a new generation sold out to God. HE had to have intervened. There is no other explanation. God put a hedge of protection around this generation’s hearts and kept them for Himself. He protected them from the poison in their parent’s hearts. Nearly a million people who would follow their God into whatever lay ahead. Six hundred thousand men who would take up arms and surrender their safety to whatever God had for them.
In my life I have had some very rough times. I have pondered and prayed over any possible damage I have caused my children when I was struggling. I feared they would have lasting scars that would damage their futures. I wondered not “if” I had hurt them but “how severe” its effect. In this story today the Holy Spirit illuminated to me how firm a grasp God has on His children. Nothing those parents did could stand up to what God would do. He was able to take EVERYTHING that their past held and turn it into something to strengthen them. What was meant to tear down was instead used to build up. What man meant for evil, God used for good.
I have NO DOUBT that many of the lessons learned during the 40 years of wandering were pounded in step by step watching how God dealt with that first generation. If I were in the second generation I CERTAINLY wouldn’t want to repeat the sins of my parents! NO WAY would I want another trip back into the wilderness.
There is one more difference that just struck me between the two generations. The first generation had what they believed was a “home” in Egypt. It was certainly not perfect but they were content enough to want to return there whenever things got rough. They were always comparing what they had previously with what they had now. Our second generation never had a home to begin with. They were born in the wilderness. They had a promise to look forward to that had to be better than what they had.
The first generation had been ingrained with the attitude of submission. They expected to be defeated at every step. They couldn’t hold onto an expectation of victory. They were satisfied with the scraps they had. The second generation was hungry for something better. They were ready to grab hold of hope and faith.
I think this dichotomy of faith is why Jesus talks about becoming as a child to truly enter into His Kingdom. A child is a blank slate waiting to be written upon. He/She holds no preconceptions of how it is supposed to be. A child trusts willingly and is ready to follow where the parents lead.
Not every one of the first generation was steeped in defeat. Joshua and Caleb both would march in with the second generation and take what God had for them. God is able to work with us, no matter our past when we allow Him to. Joshua and Caleb didn’t enter the ranks as children but they held onto that childlike faith. They trusted God with their lives and took Him at His word.
Holy Spirit, thank You for speaking to me today about Your protection for my children. I KNOW they bear the marks of my difficult times but You can use those marks for good in their lives too. I pray I left more positive imprints than negative ones but that is in Your hands too. Please protect my grandchildren from their parents’ struggles too. Bring ALL my family back into God’s family. Once again I leave them in Your hands. My childlike faith stands in the face of anything I might see. They are YOURS Father!