These are the sermons Moses preached to all Israel when they were east of the Jordan River in the Arabah Wilderness, opposite Suph, in the vicinity of Paran, Tophel, Laban, Hazeroth, and Dizahab.
It takes eleven days to travel from Horeb to Kadesh Barnea following the Mount Seir route.
It was on the first day of the eleventh month of the fortieth year when Moses addressed the People of Israel, telling them everything God had commanded him concerning them.
This came after he had defeated Sihon king of the Amorites, who ruled from Heshbon, and Og king of Bashan, who ruled from Ashtaroth in Edrei.
It was east of the Jordan in the land of Moab that Moses set out to explain this Revelation. He said:
Back at Horeb, God, our God, spoke to us: "You've stayed long enough at this mountain.
On your way now. Get moving. Head for the Amorite hills, wherever people are living in the Arabah, the mountains, the foothills, the Negev, the seashore - the Canaanite country and the Lebanon all the way to the big river, the Euphrates.
Look, I've given you this land. Now go in and take it. It's the land God promised to give your ancestors Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and their children after them."
At the time I told you, "I can't do this, can't carry you all by myself.
God, your God, has multiplied your numbers. Why, look at you - you rival the stars in the sky!
And may God, the God-of-Your-Fathers, keep it up and multiply you another thousand times, bless you just as he promised.
But how can I carry, all by myself, your troubles and burdens and quarrels?
So select some wise, understanding, and seasoned men from your tribes, and I will commission them as your leaders."
You answered me, "Good! A good solution."
So I went ahead and took the top men of your tribes, wise and seasoned, and made them your leaders - leaders of thousands, of hundreds, of fifties, and of tens, officials adequate for each of your tribes.
At the same time I gave orders to your judges: "Listen carefully to complaints and accusations between your fellow Israelites. Judge fairly between each person and his fellow or foreigner.
Don't play favorites; treat the little and the big alike; listen carefully to each. Don't be impressed by big names. This is God's judgment you're dealing with. Hard cases you can bring to me; I'll deal with them."
I issued orders to you at that time regarding everything you would have to deal with.
Then we set out from Horeb and headed for the Amorite hill country, going through that huge and frightening wilderness that you've had more than an eyeful of by now - all under the command of God, our God - and finally arrived at Kadesh Barnea.
There I told you, "You've made it to the Amorite hill country that God, our God, is giving us.
Look, God, your God, has placed this land as a gift before you. Go ahead and take it now. God, the God-of-Your-Fathers, promised it to you. Don't be afraid. Don't lose heart."
But then you all came to me and said, "Let's send some men on ahead to scout out the land for us and bring back a report on the best route to take and the kinds of towns we can expect to find."
That seemed like a good idea to me, so I picked twelve men, one from each tribe.
They set out, climbing through the hills. They came to the Eshcol Valley and looked it over.
They took samples of the produce of the land and brought them back to us, saying, "It's a good land that God, our God, is giving us!"
But then you weren't willing to go up. You rebelled against God, your God's plain word.
You complained in your tents: "God hates us. He hauled us out of Egypt in order to dump us among the Amorites - a death sentence for sure!
How can we go up? We're trapped in a dead end. Our brothers took all the wind out of our sails, telling us, 'The people are bigger and stronger than we are; their cities are huge, their defenses massive - we even saw Anakite giants there!'"
I tried to relieve your fears: "Don't be terrified of them.
God, your God, is leading the way; he's fighting for you. You saw with your own eyes what he did for you in Egypt;
you saw what he did in the wilderness, how God, your God, carried you as a father carries his child, carried you the whole way until you arrived here.
But now that you're here, you won't trust God, your God -
this same God who goes ahead of you in your travels to scout out a place to pitch camp, a fire by night and a cloud by day to show you the way to go."
When God heard what you said, he exploded in anger. He swore,
"Not a single person of this evil generation is going to get so much as a look at the good land that I promised to give to your parents. Not one -
except for Caleb son of Jephunneh. He'll see it. I'll give him and his descendants the land he walked on because he was all for following God, heart and soul."
But I also got it. Because of you God's anger spilled over onto me. He said, "You aren't getting in either.
Your assistant, Joshua son of Nun, will go in. Build up his courage. He's the one who will claim the inheritance for Israel.
And your babies of whom you said, 'They'll be grabbed for plunder,' and all these little kids who right now don't even know right from wrong - they'll get in. I'll give it to them. Yes, they'll be the new owners.
But not you. Turn around and head back into the wilderness following the route to the Red Sea."
You spoke up, "We've sinned against God. We'll go up and fight, following all the orders that God, our God, has commanded." You took your weapons and dressed for battle - you thought it would be so easy going into those hills!
But God told me, "Tell them, 'Don't do it; don't go up to fight - I'm not with you in this. Your enemies will waste you.'"
I told you but you wouldn't listen. You rebelled at the plain word of God. You threw out your chests and strutted into the hills.
And those Amorites, who had lived in those hills all their lives, swarmed all over you like a hive of bees, chasing you from Seir all the way to Hormah, a stinging defeat.
You came back and wept in the presence of God, but he didn't pay a bit of attention to you; God didn't give you the time of day.
You stayed there in Kadesh a long time, about as long as you had stayed there earlier.
Published by permission. Originally published by NavPress in English as THE MESSAGE: The Bible in Contemporary Language copyright 2002 by Eugene Peterson. All rights reserved. (The Message Bible Online)