A Reasonable Request

“Please let us pass through your land. We will not pass through the fields or the vineyards, or drink of the water of the wells. We will travel the king’s highway. We will not turn to the right hand nor the left until we have passed through your territory” – Numbers 20:16, 17

Moses sent messengers to the king of Edom with this message. It was a very reasonable request. They were in Kadesh, a city on the edge of Edom. All they wanted to do was to get where they were going and they had to pass through Edom but they needed the king’s permission to do so.

Unfortunately, the king refused. In fact, he came out against them with many people, ready for battle. He refused to let them pass through his territory so Israel had to turn away.

The king of Edom was not a man of peace. Moses had reached out to him in friendship but the king had responded as an enemy. So, instead of going through Edom which would have been easier, the Israelites had to go around. This detour greatly discouraged the people and they began to grumble and complain against Moses (Numbers 21:4, 5).

Despite Edom’s refusal to help Israel, God told the Israelites to treat the Edomites as brothers. The people were not to hold a grudge (Deuteronomy 23:7). God was encouraging them to love even those who had treated them like enemies.

If someone treated you the way the Edomites treated the Israelites, would you be able to forgive instead of becoming resentful?

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