Charles Simeon Commentary - Deuteronomy 1:21 - 1:21

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Charles Simeon Commentary - Deuteronomy 1:21 - 1:21

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Deu_1:21. Behold, the Lord thy God hath set the land before thee: go up, and possess it, as the Lord thy God hath said unto thee: fear not, neither be discouraged.

THE journeyings of the Israelites in the wilderness afford an inexhaustible fund of instruction to us. The history of their deliverance from Egypt, their trials and supports, and their final entrance into the land of Canaan, so exactly corresponds with the experience of believers in their journey heaven-ward, that we are never at a loss for an illustration of that which is invisible, from that which actually took place amongst God’s ancient people.

The Israelites, after one year spent in the wilderness, were now arrived on the very confines of Canaan: and the exhortation which I have now read to you, was part of the address of Moses to them, encouraging them to go up and take possession of the land. And, assuming (what I need not now stand to prove) the justness of the parallel between their state and ours, the words before us contain,

I.       The command given us in reference to the promised land—

There is for us, as there was for Israel, “a rest” prepared [Note: Heb_4:8-9. This passage sufficiently proves the parallel that is here assumed.]. And we are here bidden to take possession of it,

1.       By right, as the gift of God—

[Canaan was given to Abraham and his seed by God himself: and the grant was confirmed with an oath, that the possession of it should infallibly be secured to them [Note: ver. 8.]. God had a right to bestow it upon whomsoever he would: and they to whom he should assign it had a perfect right to occupy it. The former possessors were no more than tenants at will: and, if God saw fit to dispossess them, and to let it out to other husbandmen, no injury was done to them, either on the part of the Great Proprietor, or on the part of those whom he appointed to succeed to the inheritance. This I say, in order to satisfy the minds of those who, through ignorance of the tenure on which the land was held, feel a repugnance to the transfer, and to the mode in which the transfer of the land was effected.

In relation, however, to the land which we are called to possess, no such feeling can exist. Heaven is the free gift of God to Abraham’s spiritual seed, as Canaan was to his natural descendants. It is given to them in Christ Jesus: yea, it was given to them even before the worlds were made [Note: Tit_1:2 and 2Ti_1:9.]. And, as a person receiving a grant of land from an earthly monarch would go up without hesitation to take possession of it, so should every person who believes in Christ regard the heavenly land, and go up, not to make it his own, but to take possession of it as his own. No thought of purchasing it must for one moment enter into his mind. If he is united unto Christ by faith, that is a sufficient title; and from that moment he may claim it as his own.

This command then do we give, in the name of Almighty God, to every one of you who believes in Christ; “Go up and possess the land,” which the Sovereign of the universe, of his own love and mercy, has given to you.]

2.       By conflict, as the fruit of victory—

[Though the land was given them, yet were they to gain it by the sword. And we also have enemies without number to encounter. The world, the flesh, and the devil, all obstruct our way; and must be vanquished, before we can sit down in the full enjoyment of the promised inheritance — — — Nor let it be thought that heaven is the less a gift on this account: for though we fight, it is not our own sword that gets us the victory. It was “God himself who drove out the inhabitants” of the earthly Canaan: and it is through God alone that our weapons produce any effect in subduing our enemies before us [Note: 2Co_10:4-5.]. How compatible the two are, will appear from what our blessed Lord has said: “Labour not for the meat that perisheth, but for that which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of Man will give unto you [Note: Joh_6:27.].” You must fight; and you must conquer: but, after all, you must say, “Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us, but unto thy name be the praise [Note: Psa_115:1.].”]

Together with this command, we are taught,

II.      The way in which we should address ourselves to the performance of it—

The command of God to us is positive, as that to them also was: and,

1.       Our obedience to him should be prompt—

[I am persuaded they would have done well, if they had never thought of sending spies to search out the land, and to tell them against what cities they should direct their first efforts. It was a carnal expedient, as the event proved. True it is, that “Moses was well pleased” with the proposal [Note: ver. 23.]: but he would not have been well pleased, if he had clearly seen from whence it issued, and what would be the result of it. He conceived it to be expressive only of a determination to go up, the very instant they should be directed where to go. And, supposing that there was no mixture of unbelief in it, it might be laudable enough. But what need had they of men to “search out the land,” and to direct their efforts? Had not Almighty God himself, for the space of a whole year, “gone before them to search out places from day to day where they should fix their tents [Note: ver. 33.]?” Had he done this “by a pillar of fire by night, and by a cloud by day,” and was he not both able and willing to shew them “by which way to go up” to the land, and what cities to attack? I say again, it was a carnal expedient, as the event proved: and it was the source of all the calamities that they endured for the space of forty years. Had they said to Moses, ‘Pray to God for us, to direct us; and we are ready to go;’ they would have done well: but, by trusting to an arm of flesh, they fell.

In like manner, we should obey the divine mandate without delay. We should “not confer with flesh and blood [Note: Gal_1:16.]:” we should not be consulting how we may avoid the trials which God has taught us to expect; but should look simply to the Captain of our salvation, and follow implicitly his commands; regarding no word in comparison of his, nor ever dreaming of a more convenient season than the present. What He calls us to do, we should “do” instantly, and “with all our might.”]

2.       Our confidence in him should be entire—

[They were bidden “not to fear, or be discouraged.” So neither should we “fear” any dangers that may threaten us, or “be discouraged” under any trials we maybe called to sustain. As for “Anakims,” or cities “walled up to heaven,” what are they to us? Is not “He greater, that is in us, than any that can be in them?” If Jehovah be on our side, what have we to fear? We may say of all our enemies, as Joshua did of those he was called to encounter, “They are bread for us [Note: Num_14:8-9.];” and shall not only be devoured as easily as a morsel of bread, but they, and all that they have, shall be our very support, invigorating our souls by the energies they call forth, and augmenting the happiness which they labour to destroy. Whatever may occur, we should never stagger at the promise through unbelief; but “be strong in faith, giving glory to God [Note: Rom_4:20.].” We should go forward in the spirit of the holy Apostle, “If God be for us, who can be against us [Note: Rom_8:31.]?”

Hear then, believers, and follow my advice—

1.       Survey the land—

[See whether it be not the glory of all lands, “a land lowing with milk and honey.” Come up to Pisgah, and look down upon it: or rather, I would say, Come up to Zion, and behold its length and breadth. See already, and taste, the fruits of it. Take into your hands “the grapes of Eshcol,” and tell me whether the whole world besides affords such fruit. Methinks, some of you at least have already partaken of them: yes, I doubt not, but that, in “the light of God’s countenance lifted up upon you,” and in “his love shed abroad in your hearts,” you have already found an earnest and a foretaste of your heavenly inheritance. But still, I say, Survey the land. “Not one of its inhabitants ever says, I am sick [Note: Isa_33:24.].” “No sorrow is there, no sighing, no pain, no death [Note: Rev_21:4.].” “Nor is there any night there: it needs neither the sun nor moon to lighten it; for the glory of God doth lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof [Note: Rev_21:23.].”

Tell me, then, is it not worth the conflict? Is any thing too much to do, or too severe to suffer, in order to obtain it [Note: Rom_8:18.]? Only keep that glorious object in view, and you will never sheathe your sword, till you have gained the victory.]

2.       Perform your duty—

[Gird on your swords. Go forward against the enemy. Make no account of any obstacles. Think neither of the strength or number of your enemies. Say not, “Shall the prey be taken from the mighty, or the lawful captive delivered? for thus saith the Lord; The prey of the mighty shall be taken away; and the lawful captive shall be delivered: for I will contend with him that contendeth with thee; and I will save thy children [Note: Isa_49:24-25.].” Neither be discouraged from a sense of your own weakness: for “God will perfect his own strength in your weakness [Note: 2Co_12:9-10.].” Go on simply depending on your God. Rest on that word of his, “Fear thou not, for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee: yea, I will help thee: yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness [Note: Isa_41:10.].” With confidence do I address you thus: for the Lord Jesus Christ himself has said, “Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom [Note: Luk_12:32.].” Only “fight the good fight of faith:” and you shall be “more than conquerors, through Him that loved you.”]