The Land of Canaan is the eternal inheritance that Jehovah gave to the people of Israel, which was promised with an oath to Abraham: “I will give to you, and to your seed after you, the land where you are traveling, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession. I will be their God” (Gen. 17:8; Ps. 105:10-11). Sabbath is translated as ease and rest. Moses said: “Six days shall work be done, but on the seventh day there shall be a holy day for you, a Sabbath of solemn rest to Jehovah” (Ex. 35:2). And the rest of Jehovah is Canaan, the Land of Promise: “For Jehovah has chosen Zion. He has desired it for his habitation. This is my resting place forever. Here I will live, for I have desired it” (Ps. 132:13-14). The Sabbath is, therefore, a memorial of the Promised Land, where the people of Israel would rest from the rough Egyptian slavery. The Sabbath of Jehovah is, therefore, a place. Jehovah declares that his people were as lost sheep, for they had forgotten about their resting place (Jer. 50:6; Is. 11:10). All the people of Israel, which were delivered from the terrible Egyptian servitude, murmured against Jehovah in the desert. The wrath of Jehovah was kindled against them, and all of them, except Joseph and Caleb, died in the desert during a pilgrimage of 40 years. None of them entered in the rest, that is, in the Sabbath of Jehovah. They were condemned with an oath. They kept weekly the literal Sabbath, but did not have the true and real Sabbath. This issue is well explained in the letter to the Hebrews 3:17-19 and Num. 14:27-38.
We will proceed to analyze the piety and mercy of Jehovah, for Moses declared: “Jehovah! Jehovah, a merciful and gracious God, slow to anger, and abundant in loving kindness and truth, keeping loving kindness for thousands, forgiving iniquity and disobedience and sin (Ex. 34:6-7).
- Reuben, the first-born of Jacob was immoral, disparaging and incestuous, for he laid with Bilhah, his father’s concubine and mother of Dan and Naphtali, sons of Jacob (Gen. 30:1-8). Let us read the texts about the sin of Reuben and its consequences. “It happened, while Israel lived in that land, that Reuben went and lay with Bilhah, his father’s concubine, and Israel heard of it (Gen. 35:22). Jacob, before he died, called his sons to bless them, and said to Reuben: “Reuben, you are my firstborn, my might, and the beginning of my strength; excelling in dignity, and excelling in power. Boiling over as water, you shall not excel; because you went up to your father’s bed, then defiled it. He went up to my couch” (Gen. 49:3-4). He lost the birthright to Joseph (1 Chr. 5:1-2). Despite the great sin of Reuben, Jehovah commanded that the kingdoms of Sihon, king of Heshbon, and Og, king of Bashan, overcome in battle by Israel, were given to the Reubenites (Deut. 29:7-8). Jehovah is pious and merciful, for Reuben had an inheritance and rest.
- Esau, Jacob’s elder brother, despised his birthright and sold it to his brother for a bowl of lentils (Gen. 25:28-34). By a command of Jehovah, the firstborn is the heir of the blessings and possessions (Deut. 21:15-17). Besides despising his birthright, Esau married two Hittite women, which brought grief to the spirit of Isaac and Rebekah, his parents (Gen. 26:34-35). Seeing that Jacob received the blessing of the firstborn, he planned to kill his brother in retaliation (Gen. 27:41). We read in the letter to the Hebrews: “Lest there be any sexually immoral person, or profane person, like Esau, who sold his birthright for one meal. For you know that even when he afterward desired to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no place for a change of mind though he sought it diligently with tears” (Heb. 12:16-17). But Jehovah, merciful and pious, gave him rest and an inheritance. Jehovah spoke to Israel in the desert, saying, “You are to pass through the border of your brothers the children of Esau, who dwell in Seir; and they will be afraid of you: take good heed to yourselves therefore; don’t contend with them; for I will not give you of their land, no, not so much as for the sole of the foot to tread on; because I have given Mount Seir to Esau for a possession” (Deut. 2:4-5; Ex. 34:6-7).
- Who are the Moabites and the Ammonites? They are children of Incest. When Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed by fire and brimstone, two angels delivered Job, his wife, and two daughters. The wife, who loved Sodom, looked back and became a pillar of salt. Lot, fearing, went to live in the mountains, in a cave. His daughters, having no possible men to marry them, decided to beget children from their own father. They gave him wine and lay with him. The oldest gave birth to Moab, father of the Moabites, and the youngest gave birth to the father of the Ammonites (Gen. 19:30-38). Besides being children of a monstrous incest, the Moabites and the Ammonites did not come out to meet Israel with bread and water when they fled from Egypt. They also paid Balaam, son of Beor, to curse Israel (Deut. 23:3-4). The episode about this curse is in Num. 22:1-2,6,14-18. But Jehovah, merciful and kind, gave them inheritance and rest. Jehovah gave an order to his people Israel after they left Egypt, saying: “You are this day to pass over Ar, the border of Moab: and when you come near over against the children of Ammon, don’t bother them, nor contend with them; for I will not give you of the land of the children of Ammon for a possession; because I have given it to the children of Lot for a possession” (Deut. 2:18-19). Moses, the servant of Jehovah, sang the goodness, piety and mercy of Jehovah (Ex. 34:6-7).
- Who was Moses? He was the gentlest and the humblest of all men over the earth (Num. 12:3). But we keep asking: Who was Moses? Let the very Jehovah say, in the episode of the revolt of Miriam and Aaron against Moses: “He said, “Hear now my words. If there is a prophet among you, I Jehovah will make myself known to him in a vision. I will speak with him in a dream. My servant Moses is not so. He is faithful in all my house. With him I will speak mouth to mouth, even plainly, and not in riddles; and he shall see Jehovah ‘s form. Why then were you not afraid to speak against my servant, against Moses? The anger of Jehovah was kindled against them; and he departed. The cloud departed from over the Tent; and behold, Miriam was leprous, as white as snow. Aaron looked at Miriam, and behold, she was leprous (Num. 12:6-10). Moses was the greatest of the prophets: “There has not arisen a prophet since in Israel like Moses, whom Jehovah knew face to face” (Deut. 34:10). Moses was filled with the spirit of Jehovah. The anointing over him was such, that Jehovah took from the spirit that was upon him and gave to 70 elders to help him lead the people, because they were numerous (Num. 11:17-26). This did not weaken the spirit of Moses. Jehovah called Moses when he was 40 years old, and he served Jehovah faithfully for 40 years more, leading the people of Israel in the desert and suffering their complaints, rebellions, and laments. He was called when he was 80 and served him until he was 120 years old. The work was so tiring that Moses said to Jehovah: “Why have you treated with your servant so badly? Why haven’t I found favor in your sight, that you lay the burden of all this people on me? Have I conceived all this people? Have I brought them forth, that you should tell me, ‘Carry them in your bosom, as a nurse carries a nursing infant’” (Num. 11:11-12). What was the recognition he received from Jehovah? When Israel led by Joshua was going to enter into the rest, that is, in the Land of Promise, Jehovah took him to the top of Mount Nebo, and told him: “This is the land which I swore to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, saying, ‘I will give it to your seed.’ I have caused you to see it with your eyes, but you shall not go over there. So Moses the servant of Jehovah died there in the land of Moab, according to the word of Jehovah” (Deut. 34:4-5).
Moses did not enter into the rest of Jehovah. After 40 years serving Jehovah faithfully, he was forbidden to enter, and was counted with the complainers who died in the desert because of their disobedience. “With whom was he displeased forty years? Wasn’t it with those who sinned, whose bodies fell in the wilderness? To whom did he swear that they wouldn’t enter into his rest, but to those who were disobedient?” (Heb. 3:17-18). The poor Moses, who had believed Jehovah, Moses whose face shone because he saw Jehovah on Mount Sinai (Ex. 34:29), Moses, the greatest prophets, the greatest leader of all times, died without an inheritance, without rest, without blessing, and his body was handed to Satan by Jehovah (Jude 9). Watch out, you who serve Jehovah…
by Pastor Olavo Silveira Pereira