251 – Numbers 33 – The Will of God

Numbers 33:1-2 (LEB)

1 These were the journeys of the ⌊Israelites⌋, who went out from the land of Egypt according to their divisions, by the hand of Moses and Aaron. 2 Moses wrote down their movements according to their journeys on the command of Yahweh, and these are their journeys according to their movements.

The first 37 verses of Numbers 33 chronicle for us the forty-year path the Israelites took. Verse 2 informs us Yahweh commanded Moses to write down exactly where they had been. As we work our way through the scriptures it becomes obvious that Yahweh is a God of incredible detail.

Verses 38-39 recalls for us Aaron’s death as one of the chronological markers of their wilderness wanderings, and the narrative of their route continues until verse 50.


Numbers 33:50-53 (LEB)

50 Then Yahweh spoke to Moses on the desert-plateau of Moab by the Jordan across Jericho, saying, 

51 “Speak to the ⌊Israelites⌋ and say to them, ‘When you cross the Jordan into the land of Canaan, 

52 you will drive out the inhabitants of the land from your presence, and you will destroy all their idols and all the images of their molten idols, and you will demolish all their high places; 

53 you will dispossess the land and live in it because I have given the land to you to possess it.


Yahweh commands Moses to give the Israelites explicit instructions they are to execute once they cross the Jordan river, and it isn’t pretty! They are to drive out the inhabitants which includes, destroying, demolishing, and dispossessing the land of idols and pagan worshippers.

Furthermore, Yahweh is very clear about what will happen if they disobey Him.


Numbers 33:55-56 (LEB)

56 But if you do not drive out the inhabitants of the land from your presence, then it will happen that whomever you let remain of them will be like irritants in your eyes and like thorns in your sides; they will be your enemies in the land in which you live. 

56 And just as I planned to do to them, I will do to you.’ ” 


Almost all my Christian life I’ve heard that there is, “God’s perfect will, and God’s permissive will”. It’s used to communicate the idea that God’s perfect will is the thing He has commanded you to do, but if you don’t do it – well then obviously you aren’t in His perfect will. You are instead relegated to His permissive will. It’s as if God shrugs His big shoulders and says, “oh, well. That’s not exactly what I wanted, but close enough!”

Maybe I’m missing something, but I find no scriptural evidence for such a concept. You either are in God’s will (obedience) or you are not (disobedience). For example, let’s consider Jonah for a moment. Yahweh says, “go to Ninevah and preach!” Jonah responds, “no, I don’t want to….I’m going to Tarshish!” You know the rest of the story, Yahweh says, “ok Jonah, then you’ll just be in my permissive will.”. End of story, right?

This idea that I can disobey God and still somehow be in His will sounds nice at first. After all, it’s not like I’m in sin just because I’m disobeying Him, right? Oh, wait….what is sin after all? Let’s consider one more example. Adam and Eve. God’s perfect will for them was to not eat of the tree of knowledge, but since they did they just lived in His permissive will…isn’t that how the story goes?

I think it’s becoming increasingly more important that we read and correctly understand God’s word. We need to stop believing things that contradict God and His word. I’m no Bible scholar, but as far as I can tell all there is, is God’s will.

We don’t need to enable ourselves to walk in disobedience to Yahweh. What we need to do when we are outside of His will is confess our sin and get back into fellowship with Him.

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