by Pastor Don Elmore
October 26, 2014
Scripture Reading: Numbers 28:15-23
We are near the ending of the 40 years of wandering of the children of Israel in the wilderness after their miraculous exodus from Egypt. It is almost time for them to cross the Jordan River and to do battle against the inhabitants of the Promised Land. They had already completely destroyed all of the Amorites who were living on the East portion of the Jordan River.
Israel was granted victories over King Sihon the Amorite (who is referred to as being the brother of King Og in other non-biblical sources) who had fought against the former King of Moab, and taken all his land out of his hand, even to the Arnon River. Then they battled King Og, King of Bashan, who “was of the remnant of the giants” (Joshua 12:4b). Israel “…smote him and his sons, and all his people, until there was none left him alive: and they possessed his land” (Numbers 21:35).
Half of the tribe of Manasseh, and the tribes of Gad and Reuben already had petitioned Moses to live in that land. Moses had taken their request to the LORD and returned with the requirement that they had to cross the Jordan River and fight with their brethren for the Western portion of the Jordan. After the battles were over, they could then go back to their land on the Eastern side. They agreed.
What kind of government was Israel under anyway? Was it a democracy with its political parties, endless “itching ear” speeches, campaigns and elections of media-popular men and women as it is in our country today? Was it a monarchy like most of the nations had? It certainly wasn’t communism with its atheist’s viewpoint, for that came many years later. It was something that no other nation has ever had before or since: it was a theocracy.
And what is a theocracy? It was a government that was ruled by God. God was their mostly invisible king who chose certain men to lead His people. He was the “king that lived behind the curtain” inside the Tabernacle.In other words, God elected a shepherd to lead His sheep. Was this government effective? As long as Israel continued under this form of government, depending on God by following whatever He told them to do; they won victory after victory and were eye-witnesses to miraculous experiences.
Now, let’s just think on this for a minute. No other nation in the world has ever had a theocracy; only Israel. The Chinese haven’t; the Japanese haven’t; the Philippineos haven’t; the Brazilians haven’t; the Black nations of Africa haven’t; the Edomites haven’t; the Ashkenazies haven’t; the Egyptians haven’t; the Persians haven’t; the Greeks haven’t; the Romans haven’t; the Mexicans haven’t, etc. There is only one nation in the entire world that has ever had God as their king; and that one nation was Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and his seed Israel; the covenant nations.
God was their king. He gave them His laws and appointed His judges. They had a priesthood and a judicial system. He was their general who led them into battle and gave them the victory over their enemies. He provided them with the right weather for their crops. He provided the protection of their homes and farm crops and animals from the enemy forces when they had to go to the Tabernacle of God for the feast days. What a glorious government that was. The best that any nation has ever had.
It is wrongly said that God led Israel to victory over the enemies that he would years later die for and allow to become His covenant people? So say the multitudes of Judeo-Christians of today. In fact, they teach that even the savages of New Guinea, who never heard that God was the king of His covenant people, in fact, they never even heard of any covenant people; can now become one of them! What rank heresy universalism is!
What Happened to This Theocracy?
It was ended during the time of Samuel. It was one of the saddest days in all of our history—the day when we rejected, not Samuel, but God Himself.
The theocracy had lasted for about 1400 years: from Abraham to Samuel. The children of the covenant: Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and his seed had been under the theocracy; a God-rule. Samuel was a man who had been given to God by his mother who suffered from a closed-up womb. Once God opened her womb, she consecrated her child to Him. Samuel went and lived with Eli the High Priest. As a reward for giving Samuel to God she later bore three sons and two daughters.
Eli’s 2 sons were made priests, but they were very evil. Things got so bad in Israel that God raised up the Philistines to do battle against them. The first day 4000 Israelites died. So, the Israelites decided to bring the Ark of the Covenant to the battlefield from out of the Temple in Shiloh. The next day Israel lost 30,000 soldiers and the Ark. The two sons of Eli were killed and Eli died when he heard the news.
It was the only time that the Ark was captured by an enemy. It was in their control for7 months. But the Ark, which was the king’s throne, was not a blessing to the Philistines; it was a curse. It traveled between 5 of their cities before the Philistines gladly sent it back to Israel.
But the people of Israel didn’t know God’s Law on how the ark was to be transported and many died and the ark stayed in the town of Kirath-jearim for 92 years. It wasn’t returned to its own building until the days of David, Israel’s 2nd king. Why was the Ark such a curse to the Philistines? It caused tumors and a plague of mice. That is a major problem for the Universalists.
When Samuel’s sons were made judges over Israel when Samuel was about 60 years old, they also walked not in their father’s ways; they “…turned aside after lucre, and took bribes, and perverted judgment” (1 Samuel 8:3). This shows that a godly man can have evil sons.
The elders of Israel came to Samuel and complained about his evil sons and then said that they wanted a king to judge them like it was in all the other nations. Samuel was very upset by their request and went to the LORD in prayer. The LORD answered Samuel by saying that the people had not rejected Him; that Israel “…HAD REJECTED ME, THAT I SHOULD NOT REIGN OVER THEM” (1 Samuel 8:7b).
God recognized that these were a stubborn people determined to have what they set their hearts on, and that being rejected as their king was not as bad as being forsaken by them to serve other gods—a sin they had been committing since leaving Egypt (1 Samuel:8:8).
1 Samuel 8:8: “According to all the works which they have done since the day that I brought them up out of Egypt even unto this day, wherewith they have forsaken me, and served other gods, so do they also unto thee.”
God further instructed Samuel to protest their choice and make it plain to them that this would increase their burdens, being more costly than the present theocracy which was a simple form of government requiring only faith and dependence on the one God who had delivered them from slavery in Egypt. Regardless of this, Israel was determined to have their own visible king. They were determined to have a new form of government: they wanted a monarchy like the other nations had.
God instructed Samuel to tell Israel as to what would happen if they chose this form of government that the other nations had:
- Their future king would take your sons and appoint them as servants,
- He would use them for his chariots,
- To be his horsemen in the army,
- To run before his chariots,
- To be captains over thousands and over fifties,
- To plant his crops,
- To reap his harvest,
- To make his instruments of war, and instruments of his chariots.
- Their future king would take your daughters to be perfumers, who compound species and perfumes,
- To be cooks,
- To be bakers.
- Their future king would take the best of your fields, vineyards, and oliveyards and give them to his servants.
- He would take the 10th of your seed and vineyards, and give them to his officers and other servants.
- He would take your men servants, your maidservants, the goodliest of your sons and daughters, and your stock, and put them to work.
- He would take the 10th of your sheep and other stock.
- And you, yourselves, will be his servants and shall cry out to God because of your king that you have chosen, and He will not hear you in that day (1 Samuel 8:11-18).
Israel was now free from the taxes and other terms which would be imposed upon them if they wanted a monarch. It would be necessary to create and support armies, officers, a king with all his royal requirements and the people would need to give the best of their sons, daughters, land, stock, and crops. Later on, there would be bridges, highways, airports, health regulations, vaccines, property regulations, business regulations, etc. that would be required by this form of government. Besides this, there would be ungodly and oppressive kings who would make them cry out because of the trouble they would be in.
All this warning of God given by Samuel about losing their sons, daughters, servants, crops, stock, lands, and wealth to support a kingdom did not make the slightest impression on the Israelites. All they could see now was their own way in the matter; so they ignored Samuel who told of God’s warning. They didn’t want to be special; they wanted to be just like all the other nations.
And we come to the saddest two verses in all the Bible:
1 Samuel 8:19-20: “Nevertheless the people refused to obey the voice of Samuel; and they said, Nay; but we will have a king over us; That we also may be like all the nations; and that our king may judge us, and go out before us, and fight our battles.”
Samuel heard the words that the people spoke to him and rehearsed them in the ears of the LORD. But “…the LORD said to Samuel, Hearken unto their voice and make them a king” (1 Samuel 8:22a). God gave His final word to Samuel that he should listen to the people and give them want they wanted: a king, like all the other nations had. No longer would God be their king, it would be a man from Israel who would be their king!
The First Visible King of Israel
The man that was chosen as the first king of the Israel monarchy was from the tribe of Benjamin, the son of Kish. His name was Saul and he was the tallest man in all of Israel. “…From his shoulders and upward he was higher than any of the people of Israel” 1 Samuel 9:2b).
This seemed to be the outstanding thing about Saul, but mere physical goodness is never as good as high quality of character and mind. He proved to be a dwarf or midget in manliness and character. Saul was one of the most insanely jealous persons on record and he permitted this trait to damn his soul and make him despised by men of all ages. He made one attempt after another to kill David who was his best friend. He tried 21 times to kill David. So the rejection of GOD as their king, was already looking to be a very bad idea. Saul ruled for forty years.
But we are getting way ahead of ourselves. Let us return to the choice of Joshua as the shepherd of the sheep of Israel. Why did God chose him over all the other men of Israel?
Do you remember when Moses sent the 12 spies into the land of Palestine to search out what it was like? They were to get information of how strong the people were that they were to fight. And they were also to find out what the land was like and how their cities were constructed. They entered in the month of July and they were also instructed to bring back some of the fruits of the land; which would include the just ripening grapes.
One man from each of the twelve tribes of Israel was to be chosen by Moses to travel into their future home. Chosen from the tribe of Judah was a man by the name of Caleb; chosen from the tribe of Ephraim was a man by the name of Joshua.
The camp of Israel was at Kadesh-barnea at the Southern part of the land. The report of the 12 spies who had journeyed for 40 days in this land, came back with a mixed report. They all agreed that the land “…flowed with milk and honey,” but the people were very strong that lived in the land, and the cities had high walls and that they saw the children of the Amalekites, the Kenites, the Hittites, the Hivites, the Amorites and the Canaanites and the children of Anak. Who were the children of Anak?
These were one family of the giants, the men of great stature. Anak was a giant and he reproduced other giants. There was a whole town of giants. King David was almost killed by another family of giants; his mighty men had to come to his rescue and kill four of the giants in a battle with the Philistines (2 Samuel 21:15-22). Josephus talks about this “…race of giants, who had bodies so large, and countenances so entirely different from other men, that they were surprising to the sight, and terrible to the hearing.” He continues with the statement that Caleb was given the land where these giants lived as part of his inheritance; Josephus, The Antiquities of the Jews, Book V, Chapter 2.
Joshua and Caleb were the only spies, out of 12, that gave the report that they should go up at once and possess the land. The other 10 spies convinced the people that they could not defeat the giants who lived in the land.
What did Moses and Aaron do? They fell on their faces before all the assembly of the congregation of the children of Israel. There was nothing left to do but to seek God’s intervention.
What did Joshua and Caleb do? They rent their clothes and tried to persuade all the company of the people of the children of Israel to be in favor of attacking the people of the land. For they reasoned that the defense of their enemies would be parted from them for the LORD is with us. Don’t fear them; fear God.
What did the people of Israel do? “But all the congregation bade stone them with stones” (Number 14:10a). This was the climax of their present rebellion; and if God had not intervened the people would have killed Moses, Aaron, Joshua and Caleb and returned back to Egypt; probably perishing on the way. How disgraceful Israel acted!
God’s punishment of Israel was that all the people who were 20 years old or older would not enter the Promised Land. They would wonder for almost 40 years in the wilderness until they had all died off. There were only two exceptions: Joshua and Caleb. Moses and Aaron would die before they enter the portion of land that was on the Western side of the Jordan River; but it would be for other reasons.
Moses asked God to pick a person to replace Him so that the sheep of Israel would have a shepherd. God picked Joshua.
Numbers 27:18: “And the LORD said unto Moses, Take thee Joshua the son of NUN, a man in whom is the spirit, and lay thine hand upon him….”
This brings up a point that is very seldom even thought of. What about Caleb? Why wasn’t he chosen? Joshua and Caleb were the oldest men who led the new generation of the army of Israel into Canaan. But there was not the least hint of jealousy on the part of Caleb for Joshua being the one picked to be the leader of Israel. Caleb was indeed a good and faithful man of Israel. He never questioned God as to who He should pick for he knew not to question God on who He should chose to take the place of Moses. God always knows who is best for every job.
But Joshua was inferior to Moses in authority and would always be; for Moses had enjoyed the authority of absolute power over the High Priest, being the first priest actually to carry out the program received at Sinai. Moses had unrestricted and direct communion with God which neither Joshua nor any other ruler ever did enjoy.
Now, Joshua was instructed to ask the High Priest, who had the Urim and Thummim and who was entrusted with the privilege of inquiring of the LORD. Joshua failed to get this counsel in the matter of the Gibeonites and was deceived by them. The Gibeonites had come to Israel and said that they had heard of the fame of their God and of all that He did for them in Egypt. And how He had led them to victory over the Amorites and how He had caused them to destroy the cities of Jericho and Ai. This testimony of the Gibeonies destroys the Universalists argument to shreds!
But Joshua failed to ask counsel of the Urim of the High Priest. He believed their deception. They made a covenant with them without even consulting with God. So He let Israel make this mistake without intervening; so Joshua made peace with the Gibeonites.
But what kind of leader was Joshua? Was he a good shepherd? The preceding paragraph tells of one of Joshua’s few mistakes. But he was a wonderful leader of Israel.
He gave as his final speech to Israel a brief history of their people. He started with Abraham, followed with Isaac and Jacob; the time that they spent in Egypt, their deliverance; the time that they wandered in the wilderness; the battles against the Jericho and Ai, the Amorites, the Perizzites, and the Canaanites, and the Hittites, and the Girgashites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites how that God delivered that all into their hand.
Then he said to them:
13) “And I have given you a land for which ye did not labour, and cities which ye built not, and ye dwell in them; of the vineyards and oliveyards which you planted not; do ye eat.
14) Now therefore fear the LORD, and serve him in sincerity and in truth: and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the flood, AND IN EGYPT, and serve ye the LORD.
15) And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.”
What was the people’s answer?
16) “And the people answered and said, God forbid that we should forsake the LORD, to serve other gods;
17) For the LORD our God, he it is that brought us up and our fathers out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage, and which did those great signs in our sights, and preserved us in all the way wherein we went, and among all the people thorough whom we passed:
18) And the LORD drave out from before us all the people, even the Amorites which dwelt in the land: therefore will we also serve the LORD; for he is our God.”
And Israel served the LORD all the days of Joshua, and all that days of the elders that out- lived Joshua, and which had known all the works of the LORD that he had done for Israel (Joshua 24:31). Joshua lived the same amount of years as did Joseph: 110 years. “All the days” refers to the 30 years Joshua was in Canaan and a few years during the time some of the elders outlived him; those who had seen the works of the LORD in part of the wilderness experiences and in the conquest of Canaan.
Joshua was the third special shepherd of the flock of the covenant sheep. All three picked men manifested the spirit of God in their lives. The first was Joseph, the son of Rachel and Jacob. He was the one who had the prophetic dream that he would rule over his family. His brothers were resentful of the love their father showed to the younger Joseph; for he loved Joseph the most. He had made for Joseph a coat of many colors. So when Joseph went to check on his brothers, who were sheep herders, for their father, they decided to kill him.
But Reuben persuaded his brothers to throw him into the pit and not kill him. And when there came a company of Ishmaelites, they decided by Judah’s suggestion that they could sell him and then tell their father that he was slain by an animal. So they took his coat of many colors and put on it the blood of a slain goat. They took this blood-stained coat back to their father and told him that his son was probably killed by some wild animal.
Joseph was sold by the traveling tradesmen to the Egyptians, specifically to Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh’s and captain of the guard. He wound up in jail after he refused the advances of Potiphar’s wife. He was wrongly accused.
So, we have Joseph in jail on false charges; we have Jacob, his father, refusing to be comforted in the news of the death of his favorite son, and the brothers of Joseph perplexed at what they could do to relieve their father of his deep depression. This all goes to show us that never, never give up on what God has promised! For no matter how bad it may seem, it will come to pass. How did Joseph’s dream bear fruit?
For 13 years after Joseph first went to Egypt, he was delivered to Pharaoh to interpret a dream that he had, that no one else could interpret. A prisoner who had spent some time with Joseph had a dream correctly interpreted by Joseph two years previously. He told Pharaoh about Joseph. Joseph told Pharaoh that he could not interpret any dream but his God would give the meaning of his dream to him. Which he did.
Pharaoh was so impressed by what Joseph told him that Pharaoh made him second in authority in all the nation of Egypt! He “…said unto his servants, Can we find such a one as this is, a man in whom the Spirit of God is?” (Genesis 41:38).Joseph had gone from being a falsely accused prisoner to second in command in the entire nation of Egypt, because God gave him the meaning of Pharaoh’s dream. It happened all in one day!
No one else could interpret the dream of Pharaoh; and it turned out to be a very important dream that would affect all of the individuals in all the countries surrounding Egypt. The dream was a gigantic clue as to how Egypt could be the most powerful nation in the world at that time.
Joseph rise to power was instrumental in the salvation of his family. Jacob and his sons and daughter all traveled to Egypt and met Pharaoh. They spent that last 5 years of the 7 year famine. After their father died, the family of Jacob took him back to Canaan to bury him; after which the brothers feared that there was a strong possibility that Joseph would turn on them for selling him into bondage. So, his brethren went and fell down before his face just like Joseph had told them would happen; it was the future that his dream has shown him.
But Joseph told them, “….Fear not: for am I in the place of God? But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive. Now therefore fear ye not: I will nourish you and your little ones. And he comforted them, and spake kindly unto them” Genesis 50:19b-21).
What a generous forgiveness of his brethren; what a comfort to those who had sinned: and what a faith in God to see His hand in 22 long years of homesickness, insulting accusations, physical torment, and mental cruelty. God was looking forward to the next step in the fulfillment of His plan concerning Israel.
God had told Abraham that his seed would serve a nation and then come out of that land with great substance. It was now time for them to go down into Egypt to fulfil this. Exactly 215 years of the 430 years of the Promise had come to an end, and 215 more years were beginning, during which the second half of the sojourning of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and his seed would be completed.
So Joshua was the third shepherd of Israel, Joseph the first; who was the second? It was Moses. When Moses finished the first eighty years of his life, he found himself ready to be the leader of Israel. It took eighty years of life lessons for Moses to finally be the one that God could use.
When Israel rebelled and vexed His Holy Spirit; God became their enemy. Every one of Israel’s defeats are the result of their God’s refusal to fight for them; but permitted their enemy to destroy them. For failure to obey His laws, the curses would come; and this was one of the curses!
The history of Israel is one of continued rebellion against the God who brought them out of slavery from Egypt. From the time of the exodus to now, they have been in almost a common state of rebellion. For how can a church approve of aborticide, rock & roll music, same-sex marriages, homosexuality or belief that Jesus is the same as Michael the archangel or Jesus is the brother of Satan or that Jesus Christ died for each and every person who lives on the earth?
But don’t get discouraged. For God will remember the days of old, when Moses and his people were living. And He will say, “Where is He that brought them up out of the sea with the shepherd of his flock? Where is He that put His Holy Spirit within him?” (Isaiah 63:11b).This refers to God putting the Holy Spirit in Moses, and proves the Spirit was in certain Israelite men in all ages before Pentecost. It was God who led Israel out of the exodus, through His servant Moses, who He had filled with the Holy Spirit.
Moses was called 18 times the servant of the LORD and when he died at the age of 120 years he was buried by whom? This chosen man of God, because of his intimate contact with God, living in His glory, his fasts, and strict manner of life all added up to perfect strength and eyesight. The Bible says that he was buried by God Himself in a place that only He knew.
He kept the place of Moses’ burial a secret. The reason was that Israel could not pay homage or worship Moses as a god. Israel was not to give such reverence to their leader as pagans who made gods of their eminent statesmen, victorious generals, great lawgivers and founders of religions.
The people of Israel mourned his death for 30 days. The Bible gives a tribute to Moses in the last three verses of the book of Deuteronomy.
10) “And there arose not a prophet since in Israel like unto Moses, whom the LORD knew fact to face,
11) In all the signs and the wonders, which the LORD sent him to do in the land of Egypt to Pharaoh, and to all his servants, and to all his land,
12) And in all that mighty hand, and in all the great terror which Moses shewed in the sight of all Israel.”
Moses was one of the greatest prophets, in many respects greater than all others except for Jesus Christ. Many times Moses was face to face with God, who was also in visible form. He saw God and ate and drank with him along with Aaron, Nadab and Abihu and seventy of the elders of Israel and possibly Joshua (Exodus 24:9-11).
Later it says that the LORD spake unto Moses face to face, as a man speaketh unto his friend (Exodus 33:11a). This was evidently a normal conversation with audible voices as 2 persons would talk face to face, and as a friend would speak with another.
God and Moses actually saw each other and spoke mouth to mouth with voices as men do, without the aid of a third person between them. Moses received the Word of God directly from Him and plainly, not through the medium of a dream, vision, parable or dark saying (Number 12:7, 8). And the enemies of Israel knew that God was leading His people by a pillar of cloud by day, and in a pillar of fire by night (Numbers 14:14).
The signs and wonders that Moses performed refers to the 42 miracles that Moses performed in Egypt before Pharaoh and his servants. The tribute ends by referring to the great and mighty acts at Mount Sinai, and in all the wilderness wandering for 40 years, as recorded in Exodus through Deuteronomy. What a marvelous shepherd Moses was!
I have never even seen God, let alone talk with him face to face like a friend does. I have never performed a miracle, but Moses was involved in 42 of them. I never ate with God, but Moses was at a banquet with Him. Moses did so many more great things with God, that God even buried him in a secret location. He was his friend.
We have studied today the lives of three men who became shepherds over the sheep of God. All three had the Spirit of God guiding them. These were (1) Joseph, (2) Moses and (3) Joshua. Three men who faced rejection, stubbornness, disobedience; but also had great glory in the victories of our Redeemer.
In the false book of the Book of Mormon, it says in 2 Nephi 3; that when Joseph was in Egypt he prophesied of Joseph Smith, the latter-day seer. In verse 15 of this chapter is says: “And his name shall be called after me; and it shall be after the name of his father. And he shall be like unto me; for the thing, which the Lord shall bring forth by his hand, but the power of the Lord shall bring my people unto salvation.” This chapter also tells of Joseph’s prophecies of Moses, who would deliver Israel and of the coming forth of the Book of Mormon.
Joseph Smith stated when he formed and founded the Mormon sect, he claims he was visited by two men, who were aliens from a distant planet known as Kolob. They, when asked by young Joseph Smith, which of all the churches in the world should he join; both of them answered that there was not one that was left that was true. They all were an abomination to Him (God). And they had appointed him, Joseph Smith, to be the restorer of the Christian faith.
It took him four years to finally take the box of golden plates from the hill that Moroni (the last person who had died in their civilization in North America and after his death turned into an angel) had instructed him. He began on April 7, 1829 to translate the Book of Mormon with Oliver Cowdery. One month later, they went into the woods to pray; when John the Baptist (who was resurrected before everyone else) came unto the two of them and laid his hands on them and conferred upon each of them the Aaronic Priesthood (which had been put away for almost 2000 years).
With this authority, Joseph Smith, who was not baptized; baptized Oliver, after which Oliver baptized Joseph. Immediately after their baptism they were filled with the Holy Ghost and began prophesying with enlightened minds (Pearl of Great Price).
Let’s see: Joseph and Oliver were visited by a person who had been dead for over 2000 years; who died before Jesus did; came from the dead and conferred upon them the Aaronic Priesthood which had been changed. What a goofy way to restore the church! And Glenn Beck, Mitt Romney, Senator Orrin Hatch, Senator Harry Reid, plus 15 other members of congress believe this?
But all 3 shepherds are mentioned in both the Old and New Testaments (Covenants). They are listed in the chapter of the “Heroes of faith” in Hebrews 11. Although, Joshua is not mentioned by name; his bold conquering faith is mentioned in the falling down of the walls of Jericho as Israel obeyed the command of God that He instructed Joshua to follow. All of these obtained a good report through faith, but they lived before the coming of the Messiah, the sum and substance of all the Old Testament promises. The Old Testament saints relied upon the promise of the Messiah, but did not live to see Him come in the flesh, fulfill His work of redemption, make the new covenant and establish the church.
But we have the new covenant which for us is the reality of which the Old covenant sacrifices and rituals, even the sacrifices of Abel, Noah, and Abraham were shadows. God foresaw something better for us: He would not have them perfected without us.
Part 2 coming up next time.
Blessed be the LORD God of Israel.