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From Eternity Past

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    Chapter 42—God Teaches His Law to a New Generation

    This chapter is based on Deuteronomy 3 to 6; 28.

    The Lord announced to Moses that the appointed time for the possession of Canaan was at hand. As the aged prophet stood upon the heights overlooking the Promised Land, with deep earnestness he pleaded, “O Lord God, Thou hast begun to show Thy servant Thy greatness, and Thy mighty hand: for what god is there in heaven or in earth, that can do according to Thy works, and according to Thy might? I pray Thee, let me go over, and see the good land that is beyond Jordan, that goodly mountain, and Lebanon.”EP 327.1

    The answer was, “Speak no more unto Me of this matter. Get thee up into the top of Pisgah, and lift up thine eyes westward, and northward, and southward, and eastward, and behold it with thine eyes: for thou shalt not go over this Jordan.”EP 327.2

    Without a murmur Moses submitted to the decree of God. And now his great anxiety was for Israel. From a full heart he poured forth the prayer, “Let the Lord, the God of the spirits of all flesh, set a man over the congregation ... which may bring them in; that the congregation of the Lord be not as sheep which have no shepherd.” Numbers 27:16, 17.EP 327.3

    The answer came, “Take thee Joshua, the son of Nun, a man in whom is the Spirit, and lay thine hand upon him; and set him before Eleazar the priest, and before all the congregation; and give him a charge in their sight. And thou shalt put some of thine honor upon him, that all the congregation of the people of Israel may be obedient.” Verses 18-20.EP 327.4

    Joshua, a man of wisdom, ability, and faith, was chosen to succeed him. He was solemnly set apart as the leader of Israel. The words of the Lord concerning Joshua came through Moses to the congregation, “At his word shall they go out, and at his word they shall come in, both he, and all the children of Israel with him, even all the congregation.” Verse 21.EP 328.1

    Moses stood before the people to repeat his last warnings and admonitions. His face was illumined with a holy light, his hair white with age. But his form was erect, and his eye was clear and undimmed. With deep feeling he portrayed the love and mercy of their Almighty Protector.EP 328.2

    “Ask from the one side of heaven unto the other, whether there hath been any such thing as this great thing is, or hath been heard like it? Did ever people hear the voice of God speaking out of the midst of the fire, as thou hast heard, and live? or hath God assayed to go and take Him a nation from the midst of another nation, by temptations, by signs, and by wonders, and by war, and by a mighty hand, and by a stretched-out arm, and by great terrors, according to all that the Lord your God did for you in Egypt before your eyes?”EP 328.3

    “Because the Lord loved you, and because He would keep the oath which He had sworn unto your fathers, hath the Lord brought you out with a mighty hand, and redeemed you out of the house of bondmen, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt. Know therefore that the Lord thy God, He is God, the faithful God, which keepeth covenant and mercy with them that love Him and keep His commandments to a thousand generations.” Deuteronomy 7:8, 9.EP 328.4

    The people of Israel had often felt impatient and rebellious because of their long wandering in the wilderness; but the Lord had not been chargeable with this delay in possessing Canaan. He was more grieved than they because He could not bring them into immediate possession of the Promised Land and display before all nations His mighty power. With their distrust of God, they had not been prepared to enter Canaan. Had their fathers yielded in faith to the direction of God, walking in His ordinances, they would long before have been settled in Canaan, a prosperous, holy, happy people. Their delay dishonored God and detracted from His glory in the sight of surrounding nations.EP 328.5

    “Behold,” Moses said, “I have taught you statutes and judgments, even as the Lord my God commanded me, that ye should do so in the land whither ye go to possess it. Keep therefore and do them; for this is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the nations, which shall hear all these statutes, and say, Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.”EP 329.1

    And he challenged the Hebrew host: “What nation is there so great, that hath statutes and judgments so righteous as all this law, which I set before you this day?” The laws which God gave His ancient people were wiser, better, and more humane than those of the most civilized nations of the earth. God's law bears the stamp of the divine.EP 329.2

    How must these words have moved the hearts of Israel as they remembered that he who so glowingly pictured the blessings of the goodly land had been, through their sin, shut out from sharing the inheritance of his people:EP 329.3

    “The land, whither ye go to possess it, is a land of hills and valleys, and drinketh water of the rain of heaven”; “a land of brooks of water, of fountains and depths that spring out of valleys and hills; a land of wheat, and barley, and vines, and fig trees, and pomegranates; a land of oil olive, and honey; a land wherein thou shalt eat bread without scarceness, thou shalt not lack anything in it; a land whose stones are iron, and out of whose hills thou mayest dig brass”; “a land which the Lord thy God careth for: the eyes of the Lord thy God are always upon it, from the beginning of the year even unto the end of the year.”EP 329.4

    “And it shall be, when the Lord thy God shall have brought thee into the land which He sware unto thy fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give thee great and goodly cities, which thou buildedst not, and houses full of all good things, which thou filledst not, and wells digged, which thou diggedst not, vineyards and olive trees, which thou plantedst not; when thou shalt have eaten and be full; then beware lest thou forget the Lord.” “Take heed unto yourselves, lest ye forget the covenant of the Lord our God... . For the Lord thy God is a consuming fire, even a jealous God.” If they should do evil in the sight of the Lord, then, said Moses, “Ye shall soon utterly perish from off the land whereunto ye go over Jordan to possess it.”EP 329.5

    Moses completed the work of writing all the laws, statutes, and judgments which God had given him, and regulations concerning the sacrificial system. The book containing these was placed for safe keeping in the side of the ark.EP 330.1

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