A Review of Man's Past Failures
Dr. Joe Temple


We have begun the study of the fifth book of the Bible, keeping in mind some of the things that we said to you in our last lesson. The book of Deuteronomy in our King James Bible takes its name from the Septuagint version of the Old Testament Scriptures. The Septuagint version was the Old Testament, translated by seventy Greek scholars into Greek. In order to explain what they had in mind in regard to the subject matter of the book of Deuteronomy, they used two words, deuteros and nomos , which mean “the second law” because in the book of Deuteronomy, the law of God is repeated for the second time. As we are going to see, as we pursue our study of the book of Deuteronomy, it is more than the mere repetition of the law. It is more of an amplification of the law than it is a repetition of the law. The book of Deuteronomy will mean that we complete the study of the Pentateuch. The Pentateuch is the name which is given the first five books of the Bible. It's title is given for a purpose. It comes from two words, which means “five tools.”

I would like to reemphasize that because these first five books of the Bible should be just that to every one of us who are believers. They should be tools which we can use in the building of our own spiritual lives and in the building of the lives of others with whom we come in contact.

Outline of the Book

We gave you an introduction to the book of Deuteronomy in our last lesson. In that introduction, we said that if we follow the natural outline of the book, we would find that it falls naturally into five divisions. It is made up of three discourses, three addresses, three speeches which Moses delivered to the children of Israel before the day of his death and before they were able to enter into the land of Palestine.

In addition to these three addresses, there is a song which Moses wrote and the people sang. This is known as The Song of Moses . It is significant because we are told in the book of Revelation that it is a song in addition to another that we as believers will sing someday when we stand around the throne of God because we will have the opportunity of singing The Song of Moses and The Song of the Lamb .

This blessing represents a blessing which Moses pronounced upon each of the twelve tribes of Israel. This blessing has significance in that it was prophetic in intent—some of the prophecies fulfilled since Moses' day, some of them yet to be fulfilled. So this has real significance for us.

The fifth division of the book of Deuteronomy constitutes the obituary which Moses wrote. It describes the manner in which he died; it names the people who attended the funeral; it describes his burial place. This constitutes an outline of the book of Deuteronomy.

We want to begin a discussion of the first discourse which Moses delivered in what we referred to last week as somewhat of a protracted meeting because these discourses to which I have just referred were delivered within a forty day period. This is not to suggest that Moses talked for forty days without stopping, but it is to suggest that they camped on this side of Jordan for forty days while Moses delivered these messages to which we have referred.

A Review of Past Failures

The first discourse begins with the first chapter and goes through the fourth chapter. It represents a review of past failures. If you have read these first four chapters, you will recall that that is the subject matter of the address. Moses looked back over their past life and reminded them of the ways in which they had failed God.

The purpose of such a review, I'm quite sure, is to serve as a warning to the new generation that was ready to go into the Promised Land because you will remember that all the old generation died in the wilderness, but the new generation was to go into the Promised Land. Because God did not want them to make the same mistakes that their fathers had made, He had Moses review these various failures that he might rightly relate them to the Word of God.

If you will glance down to verse 5 of chapter 1, you will see that this was the purpose of such a review, for in verse 5, we read:

Deuteronomy 1:

5On this side Jordan, in the land of Moab, began Moses to declare this law, saying,

If you read your Bible superficially and you read, “Moses began to declare the law…,” you might expect the Ten Commandments in the next several sentences repeated because to most people that is what the words the law actually mean the Ten Commandments. Yet, you don't even find the Ten Commandments mentioned in this particular area. The reason is that the law means far more than the Ten Commandments. The law , as it is used here, is a reference to the Word of God, so you could just as well read this verse, “On this side Jordan, in the land of Moab, began Moses to declare the Word of God.” But if you will examine closely what follows, you will find that he does not so much declare the Word of God in the sense that he repeated a number of verses of Scripture as he relates their experiences to the Word of God and the Word of God to their experiences.

I would like for you to get that because that is the purpose of our study, and that is the purpose of the review of the failures of the nation of Israel. The Word of God will mean no more to us than so many pages of literature until such a time as we can relate the Word of God to our experiences and our experiences to the Word of God. This will not be done by a superficial reading of the Word. This matter of reading a chapter every night before you go to bed, regardless of what the chapter is, so that you can say that you have read your chapter, will not get the job done. There must be something deeper than that.

That is brought particularly to our attention with the word declare , which you find in verse 5, for the word declare comes from the Hebrew word ba'ar , which very literally means “to dig.” It is used of an individual's putting his spade in the earth and pushing down hard and then turning the dirt over, breaking up the clods, getting down underneath. It is an interesting thing to me to notice that God would use this word to describe what Moses did in this speech. Elsewhere, this word is translated with the phrase, “make plain” or “explain.” So what Moses is actually doing here is making plain the Word of God, explaining the Word of God in the light of the experiences which these individuals had.

As we look at this first chapter, I am going to endeavor to point out to you the various failures for which these Israelites were responsible. As you notice the failure, perhaps you will be able to see if there is something akin to failures in your own life and in your own experience. I am going to use words which I trust will describe the failure, but words which are related to one another with the idea of alliteration so that they will be fixed more firmly in your mind.

Notice in the book of Deuteronomy the paragraph which begins with chapter 1, verse 6:

Deuteronomy 1:

6The Lord our God spake unto us in Horeb, saying, Ye have dwelt long enough in this mount:
7Turn you, and take your journey, and go to 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 sea side, to the land of the Canaanites, and unto Lebanon, unto the great river, the river Euphrates.
8Behold, 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.

Failure of Procrastination

This paragraph may not suggest to you any particular failure, but I am going to suggest that a failure is here, and I am going to call it The Failure of Procrastination . The word procrastination simply means “delay,” “staying behind too long,” “waiting too long to do what needs to be done,” “taking more time than you need to do the thing that needs to be done.” The reason that I say that this paragraph suggests the failure of procrastination is revealed in the second verse. As a matter of fact, this paragraph ought to be read in the light of verse 2 of chapter 1, for there in verse 2, we read the statement, “There are eleven days' journey from Horeb by the way of mount Seir unto Kadesh-bar-nea.” Are you thinking? Do you realize what the Spirit of God is saying in this verse? He is saying that they could have done in eleven days what it took them forty years to do. If you let that sink in, you can see why we talk about the sin of procrastination. Forty years it took to do what could have been done, ordinarily speaking, in eleven days.

There are many reasons they did fail in this matter of doing promptly what God wanted them to do. One of them is suggested in verse 6. We will suggest only this one thought as to the failure of procrastination and see if perhaps you and I may have the same problem. Notice verse 6:

Deuteronomy 1:

6The Lord our God spake unto us in Horeb, saying, Ye have dwelt long enough in this mount:

The very English phraseology indicates that time was wasting. “You have dwelt long enough.” Horeb was the place where the law was given. It is another name for Sinai , the place where God met Moses in the burning bush. It was a sacred place, a blessed place, but they were there too long. It is also a place where at the foot of it the worship of the golden calf took place and the idolatrous performances resulted in the death of some of the people. It was a place where they first camped when they came out of Egypt, and they settled down there. That is the reason I want you to look at the word dwelt , because it is an interesting word. That is the word from which our English word dwelt comes. It comes from the Hebrew word shaw- kan , which means “to sit down.”

As a matter of fact, in the book of Numbers, chapter 32, verse 6, you will remember that when the two half tribes of Manasseh settled on this side Jordan, they were going to take it easy while their brethren had to go on into the land and really battle for possessions. Moses said, “How dare you sit down here while a battle rages on the other side?” This Hebrew word yaw-shab is translated by the word marry , and that rings a bell with us, doesn't it? Haven't we used the colloquial expression any number of times, “He can't do so-and-so because he is married to that job.”? What do we mean by that? We mean that he has the job and he'll not give the job up for anything. Sometimes we will say, “No use to ask him to move to a new location. He is married to that house.” What do we mean by that? We mean that that house means more to him than any idea or plan or purpose that might be wise for him; and if we are speaking in spiritual terms, we mean that the individual is so wedded to a certain plan, a certain purpose, that he is even willing to put that before God.

Our purpose in studying the book of Deuteronomy is to rightly relate it to everyday, Christian living from a scriptural standpoint, so I ask you turn to the book of Hebrews in the New Testament, chapter 5. This portion of the book of Hebrews was addressed to Jewish Christians—that is, individuals who were born Jews. They were steeped in all of the Old Testament teachings; they knew them well. Keep in mind that they were not Gentiles; they were Jews who had come to know Christ as their Savior. They were rather proud of the fact that they knew more than most Gentiles knew about the things of God. Because they were rather proud of that fact, they were relying, relaxing, and resting upon the old things without learning anything new. Because that was true, they were not growing as they needed to grow. So the apostle in Hebrews, chapter 5, addresses them with these words in verse 11:

Hebrews 5:

11Of whom we have many things to say [that is, of Christ], and hard to be uttered, seeing ye are dull of hearing.
12For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat.
13For every one that useth milk is unskillful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe.
14But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.

Let's pause there for a moment. What is he saying to them? Borrowing the words of Moses, he is saying, “You have dwelt too long at Horeb. All that you can digest is milk. There is some good, heavy eating in the Word of God; but you have spent so much time at the base of Horeb that if you had too much of the meat, it would make you sick to your stomach. That's the reason many people are not interested in the simple exposition of the Word of God. That's the reason many folk are not interested in the proclamation of the Word. That's the reason they had much rather have a preacher stand up and take a text and depart from it and tell a lot of experiences he has had over a period of time or a number of experiences which he has read. Milk is all they are able to take. Paul said to these first century Jewish Christians practically the same things that Moses said to that first generation who went into the Promised Land, “It is time for you to grow.” Notice verse 1 of chapter 6:

Hebrews 6:

1Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God,
2Of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment.

“These are basic things. Let's go on to some deeper things,” he said. I wonder, as I ask you to go back to the book of Deuteronomy, if we were to have a confession meeting, how many of us would need to confess that we had tarried too long at Horeb, that we were guilty of the failure of procrastination, that we have failed God by not taking advantage of the opportunities of Christian growth which we have had, that we have been taking forty years to do what ought to have been done in eleven days, figuratively speaking. I am going to let you make your own applications. There is a wide range of application that might be made from this statement which I have just made. The failure of procrastination, the failure of delay.

Failure to Draw on God's Provisions

If you are back at the book of Deuteronomy, please notice the paragraph which begins with verse 9 of chapter 1:

Deuteronomy 1:

9And I spake unto you at that time, saying, I am not able to bear you myself alone:
10The Lord your God hath multiplied you, and, behold, ye are this day as the stars of heaven for multitude.
11(The Lord God of your fathers make you a thousand times so many more as ye are, and bless you, as he hath promised you!)
12How can I myself alone bear your cumbrance, and your burden, and your strife?
13Take you wise men, and understanding, and known among your tribes, and I will make them rulers over you.
14And ye answered me, and said, The thing which thou hast spoken is good for us to do.
15So 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.
16And 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.
17Ye 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.
18And I commanded you at that time all the things which ye should do.

Moses' Failure to Draw on God's Provision

This paragraph describes another failure on the part of the nation of Israel, but more specifically, it was the failure of Moses. The others were involved in it, but it was his failure. What was the failure? Look at verse 9:

Deuteronomy 1:

9…I am not able to bear you myself alone:

Look at verse 12:

Deuteronomy 1:

12How can I myself alone bear your cumbrance, and your burden, and your strife?

This paragraph should be read in the light of the 18th chapter of the book of Exodus, where one such failure on the part of Moses occurred. It should be read in the light of the 11th chapter of the book of Numbers where another such failure on Moses' part occurred. Someone may ask, “Why do you use the word failure here? It looks to me like this was a very wise thing to do. It looks to me as if this was an illustration of proficiency of well-oiled machinery. It looks to me as if this is an illustration of what good organization will do in relation to any given circumstance.”

That's just it, Friend. That is the way it looks because it appeals to the human, but it was not what God intended. For example, when Moses said, “I am not able to bear you myself alone.”, and when he said, “How can I myself alone bear your cumbrances, your burdens and your strife?”, someone might well have said to Moses, “Who asked you to do that? Who asked you to bear the burden alone? Who asked you to bear these people by yourself? Nobody asked you to do that. Where did you get the idea that you had to?”

I am paraphrasing the subject matter of what you will find in Exodus, chapter 18 and Numbers, chapter 11. Moses got tired, just like you or I get weary; and when he got weary, he got irritable, just as you and I do whether we like to admit it or not. Jethro, his father-in-law, was visiting him one day and he said, “Man, you are overworking. You are doing too much. This isn't good.” Of course, that is what Moses wanted to hear. He was mad anyway. He said in so many words, “That's right. These are the most contemptible people there are. You can't reason with them; you can't make them do anything. They're just about to wear me out.” Jethro said, “Well, that's silly. You shouldn't be worn out by this. Why don't you take some of the leading men in all the tribes and give them the job, and you take it easy for a while?”

Anything wrong with that? Nothing from a human standpoint, but everything from a divine standpoint because Jethro was the equivalent of an unsaved man. He was a man who was walking in the flesh, and he was giving advice that was good for the flesh but wasn't good for the spirit. You might say, “Well, what was Moses supposed to do? It was too great for him, wasn't it?” It was too great for him by himself, but not too great for him in the position that God had placed him.

You are familiar, I am sure, with what is recorded in I Corinthians, chapter 10, verse 13.

I Corinthians 10:

13There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.

That word temptation may be translated by the word testing , and oftentimes we quote that verse of Scripture relating to temptation to sin. Here is a sin out here, and you are a Christian and you are tempted to yield to that sin. You say, “I had to do it; I just couldn't help it.” Yes, you could. God has never put man face-to-face with any temptation but what He has provided a way of escape.

Let me suggest to you that that is only one meaning of that verse. That verse can also be applied to the burdens which we bear. That verse of Scripture tells us that God has never placed upon any individual any burden so great that he needed to go to an unsaved Jethro and say, “What would you do about this?” God has never placed upon any individual a burden so great that he needs to go to an individual who knows nothing about spiritual things and say, “Can you give me some advice about this thing?” All that he needs to do is to say, “Lord, the burden is getting a little heavy. My knees are getting weak. Please, Lord, lift the burden a little.” And He will that you may be able to bear it. You see, the reason that this was a failure is that nobody asked Moses to bear the burden alone.

What about this other passage of Scripture in chapter 11 of the book of Numbers? The incident was somewhat the same. This time Moses didn't have any Jethro to complain to. So he said to the people, “You make me tired; you irritate me. It is more than I can take.” And he said to God—not in a spirit of prayer, not in a spirit of, “Lord, give me grace,” not in a spirit of, “Lord, lift my burden,” but in a spirit of murmuring and complaining—“Who do You think I am? Do You think I can pick this whole nation up in my arms and carry them across the border into the Promised Land like a father carries a nursing child? Do You think I can pick these people up like a little baby and throw them over my shoulder? You are expecting too much of me.” What did God say? He said, “Moses, maybe I am. You mean you don't want this job I have given you?” “No,” Moses said, “I am tired of it. I want some help.” “All right. What kind of help would you like? You can have some help.” Moses said, “Let someone else bear part of this burden.” God said, “All right. You find seventy men from all this crowd of people whom you think have some capabilities and bring them before me.” Moses did.

What do you think happened? Do you think that God anointed these seventy men in some special way and then said to Moses, “Moses, you have a lot of help here, seventy men to help you.” Do you know what he did? The power that rested upon Moses He took from Moses and divided it seventy-one different ways. He gave a little to each of the seventy and left Moses with a little. You see, He really didn't make any change. Moses had everything he needed to get the job done, but he didn't realize it, and so God took the power with which Moses could have done the work with much less trouble and let seventy-one people do it.

This failure I haven't yet named, have I? This failure is the failure to draw upon God's provision. Once again, I am not asking for any audible confession, but I trust the Spirit of God will speak to our hearts. I wonder how many of us will have to confess that we do not draw upon the provisions which God has made for us. We buckle under instead of taking advantage of the provision.

What are the provisions? How many of you have claimed any number of times what is recorded in Psalm 55, which David found to be so very true and which Peter in his second epistle in the New Testament found to be true as well:

Psalm 55:

22Cast thy burden upon the Lord, and he shall sustain thee: he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved.

When the Apostle Peter was quoting this same passage of Scripture, he paraphrased it in a sense and said, “Cast all your care upon Him, for He careth for you.” I wonder how many of us have buckled under instead of rolling our burdens on the Lord, and why did we buckle under? Why did we yield? Why did we surrender? “Oh,” someone may say, “you don't know that burden I had. You would have buckled under perhaps.” Let us remember regardless of what any one of us would have done in any given situation, the provision of God is sufficient. Turn to II Corinthians, chapter 2, where the apostle was recognizing the tremendous responsibility that rested upon him. He said, “This is more than I am fit for, more than I am capable of facing. So he said to himself, in the latter part of verse 16:

II Corinthians 2:

16…who is sufficient for these things?

He went on to say:

II Corinthians 2:

17For we are not as many, which corrupt the word of God: but as of sincerity, but as of God, in the sight of God speak we in Christ.

“We don't try to rationalize it,” he said. Who is sufficient for these things?

The Key to Victory

Down in verse 5 of chapter 3 he came to a realization which represents the key to victory. He said:

II Corinthians 3:

5Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves;…

Stop right there, Friend. Let me emphasize to you that when you reach that place, you can say to God, “God, I know myself. I know I am not sufficient for this. I know I am not big enough.” We don't like to admit that, you know. That is the reason so many of us try so many things when we are asked to do them instead of saying, “I'm sorry. I am just not capable of doing a thing like that.” We don't want to admit it, and so we undertake things in which we fail and bring reproach upon the name of Christ. That doesn't sound so good, does it? I ought to be whipping you up into a froth; I ought to be telling you to try great things for God; I ought to be telling you to get busy and don't be afraid. But what I want you to realize is that your sufficiency is sadly lacking.

Look at the rest of that verse. Don't ever start without finishing it:

II Corinthians 3:

5Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God;

Moses said, “These people are too much for me.” God said, “That's right, Moses. They are, but they are not too much for both of us.” Do you see why I say to you that he failed to draw upon the provisions which were his in God's name? That's where we fail. We don't fail because the job is too big for us; we don't fail because it is too difficult; we fail because we don't draw upon the provisions which God has made.

When this young generation was going to cross the border and go into the land of promise, Moses said, “I haven't got but forty days with you, and I want to crowd as much into these forty days as I can. I want to remind you that your forefathers failed God because they put off doing what needed to be done, and I don't want you to make the same mistake. I want to remind you that I failed God twice because I got the idea that it all rested upon me and I said I couldn't do it.”

I want you to remember that whatever God puts on you, you will never be asked to bear the burden by yourself. The burden will always be too big for you, but it will not be too big for you and God.

Failure to Possess their Possessions

Notice another failure on the part of the nation of Israel. Read the paragraph which begins with verse 19 and concludes with verse 40 when you have time. It represents another failure on the part of the nation of Israel. I am going to label it for you. First, there was the failure of procrastination. Then there was the failure to draw upon divine provision. Here is the failure to possess their possessions. How many encouragements there were in this paragraph to possess their possessions. Go back to Deuteronomy and notice verse 19:

Deuteronomy 1:

19And 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 Kadeshbarnea.

They had a command from God to possess their possessions. Look at verse 21:

Deuteronomy 1:

21Behold, 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.

They had not only the command of God; they had the consolation of God to possess their possessions. In verse 25:

Deuteronomy 1:

25And 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.

It is an interesting thing here to notice that when Moses in Deuteronomy is giving the report of the twelve spies, he doesn't say anything about what the ten spies said first, only what the two said. “It is a good land, and God has given it to you, and there is everything you need up there.” You would have thought in the light of all that, that they would have gone over the border immediately and possessed their possessions. Do you think it strange that they did not? You don't need to think it strange if you look into your own life. If I look into my own life, I don't need to think it strange because we don't possess our possessions. Notice what we read in verse 26:

Deuteronomy 1:

26Notwithstanding ye would not go up, but rebelled against the commandment of the Lord your God:
27And 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.

The word rebelled is an interesting word. It does not speak of people's taking up arms openly and going to war. It speaks of people's becoming bitter in their hearts. It is the Hebrew word which describes a heart bitterness. You know, it is possible for us as Christians to keep up a front. We still go to church. We still sing. If we are called upon to pray publicly, we will go ahead and pray. We go through all the motions, but rebellion is in our hearts. We haven't shouldered the gun, but the rebellion is there because we are bitter.

Did you notice the root of this bitterness? I want you to get this because, regardless of what we may say about the bitterness, bitterness more times than not is related to what was found in verse 27. They murmured in their tents. What was the gist of their murmuring? They questioned God's love. They questioned whether or not God really did love them. I suggest that you search your hearts before the Lord now. Have you wondered sometimes if God loved you? Perhaps you haven't phrased it just that way, but have you said to yourself, “Why did God do this to me?” You have tried; you have done what you thought was your best. You did everything you knew to do, but it didn't turn out right, so you said, “Why did God do this to me?”

Perhaps you haven't been concerned so much about what God did to you; you have been concerned about what God did to someone you loved. You might say to yourself, “God did that to me. That's all right. I'm sorry anyway, but why did He have to do that to them? It's not right. They've done their best. Look what God did to them.” Bitterness because the love of God was doubted. Because that bitterness that began as a little thing took root and grew into an enormous tree that completely filled their hearts—glance at verse 35—they failed. They failed to possess their possessions:

Deuteronomy 1:

35Surely there shall not one of these men of this evil generation see that good land, which I sware to give unto your fathers.

Not only did they fail, but notice in verse 37. This is interesting. Three times in this first discourse Moses tells us something that he has never told us before. He told us that it was not he primarily who was responsible for his not being able to go into the land of promise. It was the people whom he led:

Deuteronomy 1:

37Also the Lord was angry with me for your sakes, saying, Thou also shalt not go in thither.

I want you to get that because, Friend, it is bad enough for us to lose the blessing ourselves, but it is sad when we are responsible for other people's losing the blessing. It is sad when, for whatever reason, we do not possess our possessions; but it is sadder still, when our attitude of heart keeps others from receiving the blessing that God has intended for them.

The Failure of Presumption

One last failure I would mention. It is described in the last paragraph in chapter 1, beginning with verse 41. God said, “You can't go into the land now. You had an opportunity to possess your possessions. You didn't take advantage of it, so do what you really want to do. Spend your time in the wilderness.” In verse 41, Moses said:

Deuteronomy 1:

41Then ye answered and said unto me, We have sinned against the Lord, we will go up and fight, according to all that the Lord our God commanded us. And when ye had girded on every man his weapons of war, ye were ready to go up into the hill.
42And the Lord said unto me, Say unto them. Go not up, neither fight; for I am not among you; lest ye be smitten before your enemies.
43So I spake unto you; and ye would not hear, but rebelled against the commandment of the Lord, and went presumptuously up into the hill.
44And the Amorites, which dwelt in that mountain, came out against you, and chased you, as bees do, and destroyed you in Seir, even unto Hormah.
45And ye returned and wept before the Lord; but the Lord would not hearken to your voice, nor give ear unto you.
46So ye abode in Kadesh many days [years], according unto the days [years] that ye abode there.

The Failure of Presumption

What was this failure? There was the failure of procrastination, the failure to draw upon divine provision, the failure to possess their possessions. This last failure was the failure of presumption. What is presumption? This English word presumption comes from a Hebrew word which elsewhere in the Scripture is translated by the word insolence . That is what presumption is.

God said to them, “You have made your choice. You don't want to possess your possessions? All right. You want to live without My strength, without My power? All right.” Then they got together and said, “Who does God think He is? We don't need Him. He said we could take that land. We can take that land, Fellows.” They shouldered their guns and up the hill they went. God said, “Moses, stop them. They don't understand something. They don't understand that they can only take the land if I am with them, and I am not going to bless them. If they go, they are going to go in their own strength, and they will be killed. Don't let them go.”

Moses told them, but they were full of pride. They presumed that they knew more than God did. They said to Moses in so many words, “You old fool, you. You have preached to us, and you brought us out here into this wilderness, and here we are about to die. We are not going to listen to a thing you say.”, and up the mountain they went.

What happened? The Amorites came out like a swarm of bees, and they swatted every which way, but they couldn't dislodge the bees which God had set upon them. They came back down the mountain, and they wept before the Lord. But the Lord did not hear them. That doesn't mean that God didn't have anything to do with them. It just meant that all the weeping in the world is not going to change the purpose and the plan of God. Some folk get the idea that if they cry long enough and shout loud enough that they will be able to persuade God to do what He isn't going to do. He won't do it.


Have we been guilty of the failure of presumption, of believing, even though God's message is very clear that we cannot do thus and so without Him, that we can? I don't see how people get along without God. I don't see how people get along without a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. I don't see how, but some folk think they can. They try, and when the bees swarm around them thickly and they run down the mountain defeated, they know. How much better it is to know it before it starts! How much better it is to know that your sufficiency is of God before the bees start swarming.

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