Numbers 33 is a step by step guide of each location the children of Israel stayed in during their exodus from Egypt to the borders of Canaan; the Promised Land. God gave specific instructions in verses 52-56. They were to “drive out all the inhabitants of the land from before you, and destroy all their pictures, and destroy all their molten images, and quite pluck down all their high places” (v. 52).
If they did not remove the inhabitants completely, “those which ye let remain of them shall be pricks in your eyes, and thorns in your sides, and shall vex you in the land wherein ye dwell. Moreover it shall come to pass, that I shall do unto you, as I thought to do unto them” (v. 55-56).
This is an incredible verse. We will find out later that the Israelites did, in fact, allow some of the Palestinians and Canaanites to remain. Fast forward 3500 years and those who are NOT supposed to be in Israel are not only still there, but are absolutely thorns in the sides of the Jews.
The destruction of the pictures, molten images, and high places is a reference to the gods of the Canaanites. The LORD “executed judgments” (Num. 33:4) against the gods in Egypt (see my Notes on Exodus 7-12). Now, he wants any remnant of false gods eradicated.
Numbers 34 contains the geographic information for God’s intended borders for what would become Israel. It is much larger than the state that exists today. Those who are in the lands named in this chapter are trespassing, but the Israelites are the ones who allowed them to stay. They have been paying the price for centuries.
Chapters 35-36 are more rules concerning the punishment for murder and manslaughter, as well as the rights of inheritance for the tribes. There is an interesting “type” of Christ in Num. 35:25.
When a person commits murder, their punishment is for the victim’s revenger to come kill them. When a person commits manslaughter, however, they are given the chance to flee into a different city. If they leave, they are on their own and the revenger can kill them. If they stay, they must remain until the death of the high priest.
Before Christ’s death, those who died were sent to “Abraham’s Bosom,” not Heaven. The “Old Testament Saints” were given refuge from torment in Hades or Hell. It was not until Jesus Christ, the High Priest died, that they were free to enter heaven when Christ ascended after his resurrection (Eph. 4:8).
Salvation for us is not the same as it was for the Old Testament Israelites. Theirs was a system of grace AND works. Ours is grace only. We only need to repent of our sins, believe that Christ died for our sins, and accept his free and easy gift of grace to be saved. Just ask Christ to come into your heart and declare him your savior and you shall be saved.
It is so easy to do, though living like a Christian should is incredibly difficult. Our standard is sinless perfection; and we can never attain it. The world sees us as unintelligent rubes who are suckers for a good trick, or that we are lunatics for believing in a magical sky God with supernatural powers. We pay the price every day as we are mocked or murdered.
In the end, our side wins. My God defeated death when he rose from the dead. My God will defeat Satan and his armies at Armageddon, and we will join Peter, Paul, Moses, Abraham, Jacob, David, and Jesus Christ himself in paradise for all eternity.
Faith is not an easy choice, but we find ourselves taking leaps of faith every day. We have faith that we will wake up tomorrow. We have faith that our friends will be there when we need them. We have faith that science is a proper tool for acquiring knowledge of our world. All those faiths will let us down, but we still hold onto them.
Faith in Christ will never let you down. Seek and you will find. Believe and you will be blessed.