The Review and Herald

1301/1902

December 31, 1903

Written for Our Admonition—No. 1

EGW

The book of Deuteronomy should be carefully studied by those living on the earth today. It contains a record of the instruction given to Moses to give to the children of Israel. In it the law is repeated. At the time when the instruction which it contains was given, the people of Israel were encamped beside the Jordan. All but two of the adults who had left Egypt had died in the wilderness. Now the generation that had arisen during the forty years of journeying were about to pass over the Jordan to receive their inheritance in the promised land. But they must first hear from the lips of Moses the instruction given him by the Lord for them. The words of the law must be repeated to them, and they must hear again the conditions upon which they were to enter into and take possession of the promised land. RH December 31, 1903, par. 1

The law of God was often to be repeated to Israel. That its precepts might not be forgotten, it was to be kept before the people, and was ever to be exalted and honored. Parents were to read the law to their children, teaching it to them line upon line, precept upon precept. And on public occasions the law was to be read in the hearing of all the people. RH December 31, 1903, par. 2

Upon obedience to this law depended the prosperity of Israel. If they were obedient, it would bring them life; if disobedient, death. RH December 31, 1903, par. 3

“These be the words which Moses spake unto all Israel on this side Jordan in the wilderness, in the plain over against the Red Sea.... The Lord our God spake unto us in Horeb, saying, Ye have dwelt long enough in this mount: turn you, and take your journey, and go into the mount of the Amorites, and unto all the places nigh thereunto, in the plain, in the hills, and in the vale, and in the south, and by the seaside, to the land of the Canaanites, and unto Lebanon, unto the great river, the River Euphrates. Behold, I have set the land before you: go in and possess the land which the Lord sware unto your fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give unto them and to their seed after them. RH December 31, 1903, par. 4

“And I spake unto you at that time, saying, I am not able to bear you myself alone: the Lord your God hath multiplied you, and, behold, ye are this day as the stars of heaven for multitude.... How can I myself alone bear your cumbrance, and your burden, and your strife? Take you wise men, and understanding, and known among your tribes, and I will make them rulers over you. And ye answered me, and said, The thing which thou hast spoken is good for us to do. So I took the chief of your tribes, wise men, and known, and made them heads over you, captains over thousands, and captains over hundreds, and captains over fifties, and captains over tens, and officers among your tribes. And I charged your judges at that time, saying, Hear the causes between your brethren, and judge righteously between every man and his brother, and the stranger that is with him. Ye shall not respect persons in judgment; but ye shall hear the small as well as the great; ye shall not be afraid of the face of man; for the judgment is God's: and the cause that is too hard for you, bring it unto me, and I will hear it. And I commanded you at that time all the things which ye should do.” RH December 31, 1903, par. 5

Moses had given the people to understand that he did not desire to monopolize the honor of government. Of all the men of Israel, he was the best qualified to be the leader of the people. But he realized that he must have counselors with whom to share the responsibilities of the work. I can not bear these burdens alone, he declared. Wise, God-fearing men were to be chosen to work with him, and they were to remain in their position of trust as long as they gave evidence that they were loyal and faithful. These men were to show favor to no one, and they were not to do one wrong action in order to gain favor. They were never to accept bribes nor to allow themselves to be overawed by evil men. In all their decisions equity was to govern. They were to be “able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness.” RH December 31, 1903, par. 6

The men thus chosen were appointed rulers over the people,—rulers of thousands, and rulers of hundreds, and rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens. Speaking of their appointment, Moses declared: “I charged your judges at that time, saying, Hear the causes between your brethren, and judge righteously between every man and his brother, and the stranger that is with him. Ye shall not respect persons in judgment; but ye shall hear the small as well as the great; ye shall not be afraid of the face of man; for the judgment is God's: and the cause that is too hard for you, bring it unto me, and I will hear it. And I commanded you at that time all the things which ye should do.” RH December 31, 1903, par. 7

And the people had agreed to the plans outlined by Moses, and had promised to follow the Lord's directions. Why then had they worked contrary to the Lord's agreement, arousing mutiny and discontent? Why had they murmured and complained, as if they were hardly dealt with? They had complained of Moses, as if he were treating them harshly, when he was seeking in every way to make their journeyings in the wilderness a preparation and training for the promised land. Obedience to God's commands, co-operation with him in carrying out his plans, was essential for their present and future good, yea, for their eternal welfare. But they had been rebellious and disobedient. RH December 31, 1903, par. 8

Speaking of their conduct in the wilderness, Moses said: “And when we departed from Horeb, we went through all that great and terrible wilderness, which ye saw by the way of the mountain of the Amorites, as the Lord our God commanded us; and we came to Kadesh-barnea. And I said unto you, Ye are come unto the mountain of the Amorites, which the Lord our God doth give unto us. Behold, the Lord thy God hath set the land before thee: go up and possess it, as the Lord God of thy fathers hath said unto thee; fear not, neither be discouraged. RH December 31, 1903, par. 9

“And ye came near unto me every one of you, and said, We will send men before us, and they shall search us out the land, and bring us word again by what way we must go up, and into what cities we shall come. And the saying pleased me well: and I took twelve men of you, one of a tribe: and they turned and went up into the mountain, and came unto the valley of Eshcol, and searched it out. And they took of the fruit of the land in their hands, and brought it down unto us, and brought us word again, and said, It is a good land which the Lord our God doth give us. Notwithstanding ye would not go up, but rebelled against the commandment of the Lord your God: and ye murmured in your tents, and said, Because the Lord hated us, he hath brought us forth out of the land of Egypt, to deliver us into the hand of the Amorites to destroy us. Whither shall we go up? Our brethren have discouraged our heart, saying, The people is greater and taller than we; the cities are great and walled up to heaven; and moreover we have seen the sons of the Anakims there.” RH December 31, 1903, par. 10

It was upon the very borders of the promised land that the people had broken into rebellion. The spies had returned from Canaan with their hearts filled with unbelief, and their wicked murmurings had set the hearts of all the people in rebellion. Dissatisfaction is quickly awakened in hearts that are unsanctified. RH December 31, 1903, par. 11

“Then I said unto you, Dread not, neither be afraid of them. The Lord your God, which goeth before you, he shall fight for you, according to all that he did for you in Egypt before your eyes; and in the wilderness, where thou hast seen how that the Lord thy God bare thee, as a man doth bare his son, in all the way that ye went, until ye came into this place. Yet in this thing ye did not believe the Lord your God, who went in the way before you, to search you out a place to pitch your tents in, in fire by night, to show you by what way ye should go, and in a cloud by day. And the Lord heard the voice of your words, and was wroth, and sware, saying, Surely there shall not one of these men of this evil generation see that good land, which I sware to give unto your fathers, save Caleb the son of Jephunneh; he shall see it, and to him will I give the land that he hath trodden upon, and to his children, because he hath wholly followed the Lord. Also the Lord was angry with me for your sakes, saying, Thou also shalt not go in thither.” RH December 31, 1903, par. 12

The time to which Moses refers when the Lord was angry with him was when the stream that for so many years had supplied the people with water ceased to flow. It was the Lord's purpose to test his people. He would prove whether they would trust his providence or imitate the unbelief of their fathers. Before God permitted them to enter Canaan, they must show that they believed his promise. RH December 31, 1903, par. 13

But no sooner was the cry for water heard in the encampment, than the people forgot the One who for so many years had supplied their wants, and instead of turning to God for help, they murmured against him, in their desperation exclaiming, “Would God that we had died when our brethren died before the Lord.” RH December 31, 1903, par. 14

Their cries were directed against Moses and Aaron: “Why have ye brought up the congregation of the Lord into this wilderness, that we and our cattle should die there? And wherefore have ye made us to come up out of Egypt, to bring us in unto this evil place? It is no place of seed, or of figs, or of vines, or of pomegranates; neither is there any water to drink.” RH December 31, 1903, par. 15

The leaders went to the door of the tabernacle, and fell upon their faces. Again the glory of the Lord appeared, and Moses was directed, “Take the rod, and gather thou the assembly together, thou, and Aaron thy brother, and speak ye unto the rock before their eyes; and it shall give forth his water, and thou shalt bring forth to them water out of the rock.” RH December 31, 1903, par. 16

The two brothers went on before the multitude, Moses with the rod of God in his hand. They were now aged men. Long had they borne with the rebellion and obstinacy of Israel; but now, at last, even the patience of Moses gave way. “Hear now, ye rebels,” he cried, “must we fetch you water out of this rock?” and instead of speaking to the rock, as God had commanded him, he smote it twice with the rod. RH December 31, 1903, par. 17

Moses had spoken from irritated feeling; his words were an expression of human passion rather than of holy indignation because God had been dishonored. “Hear now, ye rebels,” he said. This accusation was true, but even truth is not to be spoken in passion or impatience. Moses, in taking it upon himself to accuse the people, grieved the Spirit of God, and wrought the people only harm. RH December 31, 1903, par. 18

Bitter and deeply humiliating was the judgment immediately pronounced. “The Lord spake unto Moses and Aaron, Because ye believed me not, to sanctify me in the eyes of the children of Israel, therefore ye shall not bring this congregation into the land which I have given them.” With rebellious Israel, they must die before crossing the Jordan. Had Moses and Aaron been cherishing self-esteem, or indulging a passionate spirit, their guilt would have been far greater. But they were not chargeable with wilful or deliberate sin; they had been overcome by a sudden temptation, and their contrition was immediate and heartfelt. The Lord accepted their repentance, though because of the harm their sin did among the people, he could not remit the punishment. God forgave Moses, but he could not grant him that which he so greatly longed for,—a home in the promised land. RH December 31, 1903, par. 19