The Signs of the Times

November 11, 1880

A Glorious Victory


Filled with hope and courage by their conquest of the Amorites, the armed hosts of Israel eagerly pressed forward, and, still journeying northward, they soon reached a country which might well test their courage and their faith in God. Before them lay the powerful and populous kingdom of Bashan, crowded with great stone cities, that to this day excite the wonder of the world, sixty walled cities, and unwalled towns without number, being contained in an area not much longer than an ordinary English county. The houses were built of huge black stones, hard as iron, and even more enduring, of such stupendous size that no human force which could have been brought against them in that country would have been sufficient to batter them down. It was a country filled with wild caverns, lofty precipices, yawning gulfs, and rocky strongholds. ST November 11, 1880, par. 1

The inhabitants of this land, descendants from a race of giants, were themselves of marvelous size and strength, and so distinguished for violence and cruelty as to be the terror of all surrounding nations; while Og, the king of the country, was remarkable for size and prowess, even among that giant race. ST November 11, 1880, par. 2

In this hour of peril, Moses could have confidence only in God. He alone could subdue their enemies. But the aged leader trembled for Israel. How would they conduct themselves? He remembered how they had been terrified at the mere description of the giants by the men who spied out the land of Canaan thirty-eight years before. He called to mind how often Israel had failed, and how God had given them up to the power of their enemies. What a horror of disaster and defeat must be the result, should they distrust God now! ST November 11, 1880, par. 3

But the cloudy pillar moved steadily forward, and following its guidance the Hebrew hosts advanced, past cities and towns of these rock houses, to Edrei, where the giant king, with all his forces, awaited their approach. Og had skillfully chosen the place of battle. The city of Edrei was situated upon the border of a table-land rising abruptly from the plain, and covered with jagged, volcanic rocks. It could be approached only by narrow pathways, steep, and difficult of ascent. In case of defeat, his forces could find safe retreat in that vast labyrinth of rocks, where strangers, attempting to follow them, would be lost. ST November 11, 1880, par. 4

Confident of success, the king came forth with an immense army upon the open plain; while from table-land above, which, as far as the eye could reach, was like a natural fortress, were heard shouts of defiance, and along its whole extent were seen the glittering spears of unnumbered thousands, eager for the fray. When the armies of Israel beheld the lofty form of that giant of giants towering above the soldiers of his army; when they saw the mighty hosts which surrounded him, and the seemingly impregnable fortress, behind which unseen thousands were entrenched; and then looked upon their own aged leader, his head whitened with the snows of a hundred and twenty years; when they considered their comparatively unarmed and defenseless condition,—the hearts of many in Israel quaked with fear. ST November 11, 1880, par. 5

But Moses was calm and firm: he was following the directions of a higher general, and however much he might distrust the armies of Israel, the God of Israel, never. The Lord had said to Moses, “Fear him not; for I will deliver him, and all his people, and his land, into thy hand; and thou shalt do unto him as thou didst unto Sihon, king of the Amorites, which dwelt at Heshbon.” ST November 11, 1880, par. 6

The calm faith and intrepid bearing of Moses, and his words of hope and courage, inspired the hearts of Israel with confidence in God. They felt that from him alone could they expect deliverance. They trusted all to his omnipotent arm, and they were not disappointed. ST November 11, 1880, par. 7

Not mighty giants nor walled cities, armed hosts nor rocky fortresses, nor all combined, could stand before the Captain of the Lord's host. The Lord led the army; the Lord discomfited the enemy; the Lord conquered in behalf of Israel. That entire force, with Og, their king, were destroyed; and the Israelites soon took possession of the whole country. Thus was blotted from the earth that strange and powerful people, who had given themselves up to iniquity and abominable idolatry. ST November 11, 1880, par. 8

The report brought back by the spies who were sent to view the land of Canaan, was in many respects correct. The cities were walled and very great, and the sons of the giants who dwelt therein were a powerful race, in comparison with whom the spies were like mere pygmies. It was on hearing this report that the people, instead of trusting in God to overthrow their enemies, rebelled against him, and declared the conquest of Canaan an utter impossibility, in their wild frenzy of passion and unbelief, even appointing a captain to lead them back to Egypt, and attempting to put to death the only two of their number who still possessed faith and courage. It was then that the judgment had been pronounced against Israel, that all above twenty years of age should die before reaching the promised land. Ere the Hebrews were led the second time to the borders of Canaan, this judgment had been fulfilled. The bodies of all that rebel host were buried in the wilderness. ST November 11, 1880, par. 9

In their contests with Og and Sihon, the people of God were brought to the same test beneath which they had so signally failed nearly forty years before. But the trial was now far more severe than when God first commanded them to go forward and their cowardly hearts refused to obey. There was then no army to oppose their progress or to strike terror to their souls. The difficulties which were then to be encountered in the discharge of duty were not nearly so great as now. The clouds that then darkened the path of faith became more dense and forbidding while they were halting and doubting and standing still, refusing to go forward when commanded to do so in the name of the Lord. When the word came again to Israel, Go forward, they must, if they would possess Canaan, advance against violent, skillful, and well-equipped armies. ST November 11, 1880, par. 10

They now remembered how once before, when they had marched out to battle, they had been routed, and thousands slain. But they had then gone in direct opposition to the command of God. When for their unbelief he had doomed them to perish in the wilderness, they were seized with horror and remorse; and, still as rebellious as ever, they determined to gain by their own power what God had declared they should not possess. They went out without Moses, God's appointed leader, without the cloudy pillar, the symbol of the divine presence, and without the ark. What marvel that they were utterly defeated! ST November 11, 1880, par. 11

But now, as they go forth to battle, Moses is with them, strengthening their hearts with words of hope and faith; the Son of God enshrined in the cloudy pillar, leads the way; and in their midst, accompanied by priests and Levites, is borne the sacred ark. Well may they be of good courage; they are following the command of Heaven, Go forward; and victory, complete and glorious, is theirs. ST November 11, 1880, par. 12

All the experience of Israel has a lesson for us, who are living in the last hours of time. We should carefully consider their course of action and the dealings of God with them, and then imitate their virtues, while we shun those acts which brought upon them his displeasure. This mighty God of Israel is our God. In him we may trust, and if we obey his requirements he will work for us in as signal a manner as he did for his ancient people. It should be the most earnest study and continual effort of modern Israel to bring themselves into close and intimate relationship with God. Then with the mind quickened, the perceptions sharpened, they will discern his infinite power and overruling providence in all his dealings with man, and in all his created works. ST November 11, 1880, par. 13

Unseen by human eyes, God's power is constantly exercised for our good. When scientists seek to separate the works of nature from the immediate and constant manifestation of divine power, they are at sea without a compass. Every soul who cherishes the light which God has given will recognize him foremost in all his interest and in all his business. Skeptics may multiply doubts, scoffers may rail; but the true Christian calmly reposes in God, being assured that he is, and that he is a rewarder of all who diligently seek him. ST November 11, 1880, par. 14

Every one who seeks to follow the path of duty will at times be assailed by doubt and unbelief. The way will sometimes be so barred by obstacles, apparently insurmountable, as to dishearten those who will yield to discouragement; but God is saying to such, Go forward. Do your duty at any cost to yourselves. The sea of trouble which threatens to overwhelm you will open as you advance, revealing a safe path for your feet. The trials and difficulties which seem so formidable, which fill your soul with dread, will vanish as you move boldly forward in the path of obedience, humbly trusting in God. ST November 11, 1880, par. 15

There are daily, important duties for every soul; not one is excused. The present duty must be done now; for the time is short, and opportunities once lost will never return. There is danger in one moment of hesitancy in face of difficulties. God will be a light to the meek, the humble, the thankful and obedient; but he is a cloud of darkness to the selfish, the proud, the impatient, and the murmuring ones. Sooner or later, light will shine forth upon the pathway of those who hold themselves ready to go when and where Christ leads the way. ST November 11, 1880, par. 16

Every step in life should be that of faith, of love of consecration! We should walk in the light, as Jesus is in the light. Christ offers to walk with us through all the journey of life, and cheer our way by his presence. If we do not avail ourselves of his companionship, it is our own fault, our own loss. If we grope in darkness, it is because we refuse the presence of the only one who can make our way bright and joyful. We need to cultivate that faith which works by love, and purifies the soul. Our greatest danger is in harboring unbelief, and neglecting to cherish the precious love of Jesus. ST November 11, 1880, par. 17