Daily Lectionary: Numbers 20:1-21; Luke 20:19-44
But he said, “You shall not pass through.” And Edom came out against them with a large army and with a strong force. (Numbers 20:20)
In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Edom knew about Israel’s hardships. Israel promised to pass through Edom’s land without taking any food or water. Nevertheless, not only did Edom refuse to allow Israel safe passage, but Edom threatened Israel with a great army.
Other inhabitants of the land reacted to Israel in much the same way. For example, King Sihon of the Amorites and King Og of Bashan refused Israel safe passage and sent their armies toward the Israelites. Israel had to fight and conquer them, lest they be conquered.
Often we feel uncomfortable with Israel’s war against the Canaanites described in Numbers and Joshua. Doesn’t God desire peace? Yes, He does, but the Canaanites did not. The Canaanites were not interested in sharing their land or allowing Israel safe passage. The Canaanites were the first to draw the sword. Still to this day, it is just for a government to raise an army and fight in self-defense.
Furthermore, we must remember that a lot more was at stake than simply the survival of this single generation of Israelites. When the Canaanites threatened the people of Israel, they were threatening God’s plan of salvation, for the Savior would be born an Israelite! If the Israelites are wiped out by the pagans, then the Savior cannot be born in order to die for the sins of the whole world (including the sins of these Canaanites).
Remember what God said to Abraham in Genesis: “I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed,” (Genesis 12:3). If the Canaanites had welcomed and blessed Israel, then they would have been blessed. Indeed, Gentiles are receiving God’s blessing to this very day through Jesus, the obedient Israelite, the offspring of Abraham. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.
Crowns and thrones may perish, Kingdoms rise and wane, But the Church of Jesus Constant will remain. Gates of hell can never ‘Gainst that Church prevail; We have Christ’s promise, And that cannot fail. Onward, Christian soldiers, Marching as to war, With the cross of Jesus Going on before. (Onward, Christian Soldiers, LSB 662:3)