As we continue through the book of Deuteronomy, it is best not to tire of hearing about giants too quickly. God was giving the land of the giants to the children of God. “Rise ye up, take your journey, and pass over the river Arnon: behold, I have given into thine hand Sihon the Amorite, king of Heshbon, and his land: begin to possess it, and contend with him in battle . . .” (Dt. 2:24-3:29).
The conquest began on the other side of the Jordan. Israel began fighting in the Transjordan, the land that would be inherited by Reuben, Gad, and the half tribe of Manasseh. Sihon was first. They had to cross the land of Sihon to get to Canaan, and God knew there would be battle (v. 24). God stirred up fear in their midst (v. 25). Peace was offered first, as it had been with Edom (vv. 26-29). But God hardened the heart of Sihon, in order to deliver him up (v. 30). And God told Moses that the land of Sihon was given to Israel (v. 31). Sihon approached and the battle occurred at Jahaz (v. 32). This was a holy war—total war—and God destroyed all of the Amorites (vv. 33-34). Only the cattle and spoil remained (v. 35). All of Sihon’s territory was captured (v. 36), but Israel did not cross over into Ammon’s region (v. 37).
Og was next. Much the same thing happened with this second Amorite kingdom. Og of Bashan came out to fight (3:1; cf. Num. 21:33-35). God promised to do the same to him as had been done to Sihon (v. 2). And the same kind of total victory is what happened (v. 3). All his cities, great and small, fortified and unfortified, were taken (vv. 4-7). The boundaries of the conquered territory are laid out (vv. 8-10). And lest we forget, we are reminded that Og was part of a remnant of the giants (v. 11). His bed was enormous—king size—but much more is involved than honor. His bed was about thirteen and a half feet by six feet (v. 11).
The Transjordan, the conquered land of giants (v. 13), was divided up among two and a half tribes (vv. 12-17; cf. Num. 32:33). We know from Numbers that Moses had originally been distressed at the desire of these tribes for this land, but when they showed their willingness to fight across the Jordan for the land that would be inherited by their brothers, he was content. Here that requirement is made clear again (vv. 18-20).
Moses was concerned to encourage Johua (vv. 21-22). But Moses wanted to cross over as well, and he besought the Lord about it (v. 23). He pleads the same grounds he had used to encourage Joshua (v. 24), and asks to go over (v. 25). But the Lord was angry with Moses and told him to cease (v. 26). Moses would have to be content with a glimpse from Pisgah (v. 29). Moses was told to encouage Joshua (v. 28). And they remained in Bethpeor (v. 29).
Why were these campaigns important? It is remarkable how often these two defeated kings come up in Scripture. And we shall soon see why. First, this encouragement comes up at the end of Deuteronomy, like a second bookend (Dt. 31:4). And remember the first bookend (Dt. 1:4; cf. 4:46-47; 29:7). Second, centuries later, under the reign of Solomon, one of his officials named Geber is identified as governing the land which Sihon and Og used to have (1 Kings 4:19). Third, the psalter of Israel perpetuated the memory of these great battles (Ps. 135:5-12). The next psalm does the same (Ps. 136: 18-21). So we Christians are still singing about how Sihon and Og went down, and we will do so until the end of the world. And fourth, in the return from exile, in a great confession of sin, the people recall God’s previous kindness in this regard (Neh. 9:22). God’s previous faithfulness is always grounds for looking forward to His faithfulness to us in the future.
That which discourages the enemies of God encourages His saints. Or at least it encourages faithful saints. There had been a panic from God; the Lord had unsettled these nations, as well as those who heard about their defeat (2:25). Sure enough this is exactly what occurred (Josh. 2:10). We also see the nature of divine authority. God controls the affairs of men (2:30). When God determines to deliver up His enemies and ours, it will happen. Nothing can stop it from happening. Nothing. God wants us to see His deliverances, and He wants us to see it with our own eyes. Too often we are discouraged by the same things that discourage infidels. Why is this? What does God tell Joshua? God will fight for him (3:22). God tells Moses to encourage Joshua and strengthen him (3:28). We need to believe that God fights our battles for us. The land is before us. Blessed be the Lord our strength, who teaches our hands to war and our fingers to fight (Ps. 144:1). When we consider these truths, let us consider them in holiness and faith. Stand still and see the salvation of our God. Move forward, when He commands, to get a closer look at what He will do.