Numbers 33:50 In the plains of Moab by the Jordan at Jericho, the LORD spoke to Moses, saying: 51 Speak to the Israelites, and say to them: When you cross over the Jordan into the land of Canaan, 52 you shall drive out all the inhabitants of the land from before you, destroy all their figured stones, destroy all their cast images, and demolish all their high places. 53 You shall take possession of the land and settle in it, for I have given you the land to possess. 54 You shall apportion the land by lot according to your clans; to a large one you shall give a large inheritance, and to a small one you shall give a small inheritance; the inheritance shall belong to the person on whom the lot falls; according to your ancestral tribes you shall inherit. 55 But if you do not drive out the inhabitants of the land from before you, then those whom you let remain shall be as barbs in your eyes and thorns in your sides; they shall trouble you in the land where you are settling. 56 And I will do to you as I thought to do to them.
Here God is giving to Moses instructions for the Israelites as they prepare to enter the promised land of Canaan. V. 52 makes God’s command clear. The people are to drive out the current inhabitants so they might inherit the land. In some cases this meant putting them all to death. At the very least it meant taking their lands, towns, and livestock from them by force. Two things come to mind for me this morning.
First, people who are pushed out of their land don’t easily forget. I’m thinking of the Palestinian people in relationship to Israel. The enmity between these two people groups is thousands of years old. Why Americans think we’re going to broker a peace between them is beyond me. As the prophet Doctor Phil likes to ask, “How’s that working out for you?”
Second, this passage reminds me why the Israelis believe they have a claim to the disputed territories to this day. Whatever international law and norms may be, the word of God clearly states the land is a gift to Israel in perpetuity.
See the problem here?
Lord Jesus it’s hard to read some passages of scripture like this one because the commands in it violate much of our current sense of right/wrong. Yet, scripture tells us that with God all things are possible. Bring peace to a world that is deeply divided. We pray this in your holy name. Amen.