Bible Battle #5 History – C. 1445 BC
The Hebrews failed in their attempt to go into the Promised Land without God’s permission and were beaten back at a place which would, in future, be named Hormah.
ANCIENT HISTORY before the Defeat at Hormah
After Mount Sinai, things turned for the worse. As so often is the case, after the ecstasy of accomplishing a great objective, there is a void. This is where the Devil prowls like a roaring lion looking for a weak victim (1 Peter 5:8). Victory can make people weak if they loose track of God.
BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU WISH FOR
When the Hebrews left Mount Sinai, Moses legislative and administrative tasks as a leader caught up to him. He was exhausted and his father-in-law Jethro suggested he take on help. God allowed him to follow the earthly advice from before and his associates provided him with 70 new leaders to help.A good
thing can become a bad thing if the source is not completely from God. Moses complained about his workload instead of going directly to God for his strength. He followed not God’s advice but the world’s. The subsequent backfire was another failed rebellion against him. A much later consequence was that this group of 70 that was formed to help Moses became the Sanhedrin, which would be responsible for crucifying Jesus 1500 years later.
THE TWELVE SPIES
From the wilderness of Sinai the Hebrews moved towards the originally planned point of entry into the promised land:
- Wildernessof Paran,
- Kadesh Barnea,
- It was north of Kadesh-Barnea (most likely at the end of the Negev) that the Canaanite fortifications began.
- The objective may have been to advance to the region of Valley of Ehscol and Hebron.
Plan “A”:God’s plan; march straight north standing on His promises of victory.
Plan “B”:the people’s plan; move eastward instead and take the traditional
nomadic route of the King’s Highway.
If God took care of even the small things, how much more would He care for the people’s national security? He gave the people plenty of assurance that the land needed could be taken.
However, despite all that God had done for the people up to this point – escape from slavery, provision, victories – the people still needed physical reassurance that the promised land was indeed destined for them. For this God allowed Moses to order a reconnaissance mission into Canaan with 12 spies which included Joshua and Caleb. They returned speaking of the good things they saw in the land but also warned of giants and fortifications. Of the group that was sent to reconnoiter the land only Joshua
and Caleb were not afraid and maintained faith in the original plan of conquest of God, which was to go straight north and enter Canaan here. They tried to convince the people but their panic only augmented and they rebelled wanting to overthrow the leadership and, incredibly, return to Egypt.
CONFLICT BACKGROUND leading to the Defeat at Hormah
The people sealed their fate for the next battle with two actions:
were deeply anguished and changed their mind. They now decided to go back and take the high ground against the enemy as originally planned. This was a big mistake. God does not change His mind and the window of opportunity for this battle’s victory was closed.
FOCUS on the NEGATIVE
Joshua and Caleb had told the people of the good things they had seen in the Canaan frontier. True, there was also the threat of the mighty enemy forces in that place but there was no danger if people trusted God. Indeed the difference between a threat and a danger is the faith with which we face it. So the Hebrews chose to focus on the bad report of the 10 spies over the good report of Caleb and Joshua. By accepting the majority report they accepted defeat before they even fought; they accepted that they couldn’t take the land.
MILITARY HISTORY of the Defeat at Hormah
After Moses address, the people were convicted of their unbelief but it was too late to attack. What happened next was a foolish undertaking that led to disaster. Instead of absorbing God’s admonishment with the maturity of the repentant, they rushed to fix their wrongdoing by taking action without preparation. Moses stressed that if they proceeded they would fall, as God would not be with them.
- So it was that against Moses’ warning of defeat, the fighting group decided to charge up the hills where the Amalekites lay entrenched and waiting. The Hebrew fighters attacked arrogantly and, in their haste, left the Ark of the Covenant behind. The men marched up into the hill country, never an easy task, particularly when the enemy is well prepared.
- The Amalekites and Canaanites settlers counterattacked easily downhill and breaking the Israelite formation. They took ground all the way to Seir and Hormah.
NOTHING NEW UNDER THE SUN
The Battle of Gettysburg (July 1-3, 1963) saw a the Union Army of the Potomac well entrenched on high ground. Lt. Gen. James Longstreet warned his commander, Gen. Robert E. Lee of the danger
of attacking such a position and that the sound plan would be to go around them and take up a new position on their rear forcing them to attack instead. To the peril of the Confederacyhowever, Lee decided to follow a badly supported and rushed attack plan which resulted in their greatest defeat.
BIBLE HISTORY AFTERMATH of the Defeat at Hormah
Because of this I’ll plannedattack, doomed for failure before it even began, the Hebrews lost land they had gained previously and pulled back. They lost many days regrouping and reestablishing their army in Kadesh. In this battle the people did not have God’s support but decided to fight anyway, under their own steam. Most of the battles in history should never have been fought and the reason is because in most of
SPIRITUAL WARFARE at the defeat at Hormah
The spiritual analysis on this small battle is extensive because there are lessons learned that are eternal. The defeat at Hormah also set a precedent for the conditions for certain defeat in the future, which will be observed again and again. This analysis is therefore a sort of template for other military disasters rooted in the same conditions that Hormah was.
GOD CANNOT DO IT ALONE
After God had rebuked the people, even though they continued to be sure of victory something had changed. Their assurance was not faith, it was presumption. They panicked when they had realized the moral implication of having doubted God.They thought they could conjure up “fast food” faith and take the hill that God told them not to. They had been defeated because of having lost communion with God. They were not able to carry out their task even though it was what He wanted for them. God cannot work without our participation. Faith has always mixed in.Hebrews 4:2: For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it .If the faith is added, then, no matter how small the faith and how big the obstacle – in this case heavy fortifications and giants – then God will deliver us.Matthew 17:20: And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you.God cannot do it alone when we have something to bring to the table. God is interested in a relationship with us and we need to “break bread” with Him at the table for that to work.
FAITH THROUGH PERPETUAL MOTION
When the spirit gives us a vision it is to act on it. We must add our faith to what God’s plan for us is. We need to use the faith to take the first step and it is then that we can take the second step.During their march the Hebrews didn’t know what lay in their path too far ahead. Nevertheless God asked them to submit to His servant Moses’ leading, to trust him and keep moving. Because we are mortal, if we were to see the final plan we might get scared and get out of God’s plan. If the Hebrews were told that what lay ahead was the conquest of the whole region of Canaan they might have been scared out of heir socks and quit.Following God, and being in His perfect will is light and easy but requires our faith to be constantly stretched. By following steadily we will receive all the tools for all we need. To remain in motion is key.When we move in a direction God can order our steps but if we stay stagnant there is nothing for Him to order or direct. The Christian life is always moving. Faith is always on the way to fulfilment of God’s plan.
Psalm 37:23-24:  The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord : and he delighteth in his way.  Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down: for the Lord upholdeth him with his hand.God secures our step once we take it, preparing us for the next step. What is important is that we take the step for Him to be able to guide us. Fear paralyses but faith moves. Faith never leads you to do nothing; it always leads us to do something.Spiritual led people also stumble. In fact they stumble often because they are always moving. This is not to be confused with sinning to the point of losing their commission, which is what happened to the Hebrew people in the wilderness: the rebellious and doubtful generation that decided not to move lost the right to enter into the Promised Land.The people “lingered in a place they were only meant to pass through. Using our faith will ensure we don’t linger in a place we should only pass through.” 2
WAGES of SIN
They’ve been talking wrong the whole time. God made them to wonder. They repented but it was too late. They didn’t wan the punishment. They decided to go up the hill without the anointing. They were presumptuous when they assumed God was going to anoint them. They were acting for the wrong reasons out of desperation and not conviction. All along God was telling them to stop. The time for attack, the opportunity, was gone. Again they didn’t listen and were destroyed.When we speak out of our head instead of our spirit and in desperation it fails. It is the separation between being World minded and God minded. That is why it is so important to live faith, have revelation and keep your heart right daily. When the times of trial come it is more difficult because you may be acting in panic and the prayers become going through the motions rather than activating the well grounded, built up and maintained truth.The men that were responsible for inciting the revolt against Joshua and Caleb were struck by a place and died. Let us be clear that it was not God that brought this evil upon these men. Nothing but good can come from the Lord; evil is never from Him.
James 1:17: Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.But in a fallen world evil is constantly around us trying to make its way into our lives – into our thoughts and circumstances. What God does is keep that flood of evil from overtaking us. If we reject God then we have also rejected His protection. In Numbers 14God did not say He was sending this plague to the men as punishment. What He was in fact saying was more like “look, you rejected my provision for you, so be it, this is what I know to be in store from you” (but it is not from God’s store).
The FORGOTTEN GLORY
It had been the people’s custom to take the ark of the covenant into battle. We know now that God lives in every heart that believes in Him through Jesus but, in that dispensation of the Law (after the 10 Commandments) God’s power was concentrated in the tabernacle which, when in transit, was housed in the ark. This was the glory of God. It is the glory of God that gives us the strength to fight against Satan, to fight against sin, temptation and adversity.The people had already weakened their faith through unbelief. Now by by leaving the ark behind people left behind the glory – the power, the weapon – which they needed for victory.In any case their doom was assured regardless of this. Moses told them not to fight and they ignored him.
WHY GOD WAS SO GRIEVED 3
God doesn’t mind when we have knowledge in the natural. We can be prepared on all fronts but God wants our trust and focus to be Him. God had sent angels ahead of the people to protect them. The people, however, took it upon themselves and sent spies, grieving God and the angels. They did not trust God, grieved and provoked Him severely.
God didn’t say that there is no weapon against us. He said no weapon formed against us will prosper (Isaiah 54:17). He didn’t say there would be no fight, He said there would be victory. The Hebrews acted as if there was no weapon.
They also focused on the negative fear of the adversity in the Promised Land, rather than on God’s promises. They should have magnified God and not magnified the problem. Focusing on the world instead of God eventually will lead to focus on the negative because the world itself has no life except that one that is given to it by God.
The owness is not on God. He has already done everything for us. The owness is on us. If we provoke Him with our words (wrong words, lack of words) we loose our protection, our blessing, our faith even. This has nothing to do with forgiveness. That has been taken care of by Jesus. That Salvation is done. This is about salvation on the earth. His glory is for today. In other words, the Promised Land was there, no mater what. What the Hebrews needed was victory on this battle.
We must simply follow and keep faith. Like Caleb, we will never fit in when we have faith. We’ll be outcasts among the world and brethren unless they are people of faith as well.
Sending out the spies was the undoing of a journey that should have lasted 40 days and instead would last 40 years.
PRACTICAL IMPLICATIONS of TRUSTING GOD
When you do not trust God with the little things it will be hard to trust Him with the big. The Hebrews missed this point completely and insisted that spies be sent out.
The land was good because God had declared it was good, no mater what the people saw in the natural. This is why God was angry at people who, instead of trusting His promises for the land, went only by what facts their reconnaissance had gathered. God gave enough assurance to take the land. He allowed the spies but it was not His perfect will. Furthermore, sending out spies hurt their faith.
The reality is that it was not Sending out the spies that caused the wait in the wilderness but it was because of that. For if the spies had not been sent out to reassure the people they would not have grumbled against the report and Korah would not have caused the rebellion that condemned them.
PRINCIPLES of TRUSTING GOD
After the first rebellion which followed the spies return Moses asked God to forgive the people for their sin, reminding Him of His nature: slow to anger, abounding in love and forgiving sin and rebellion.
This is known as the prayer of intercession. It is defined by standing in the gap in place of another who have provoked judgement on themselves (and the actual execution of that judgement). It is prayer to hold back judgement. It is especially powerful because we are partnering up with God in prayer and it moves things that would not be moved otherwise.
In today’s dispensation of grace, after Jesus, for us to effectuate such prayer then the Holy Spirit must come on us to intercede. It is he who begins the process and we respond. When we have a burden to pray for someone who’s soul is lost we often feel lost ourselves.
To the spirit filed Christian there are three levels of intercession:
1. In his native language.
2. In tongues.
3. In groanings and travail.
The more we pray on the second level the better we get into the third level. It cannot be conjured, it is an anointing that comes on us. We pass to another level by practicing the previous level much.
Groanings are inspired by the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is helping us in intercession with groanings in tongues. Travail always leads to groaning or it is not travail. It has nothing to do with our soul. It is all spirit man. Therefore it is not an emotional manifestation even if it seems that way. The Holy Spirit is not responsible for our prayer life. He tells us to pray and we do so through our spirit man, not our brain.
Tongues is speaking inarticulate words; it is a deeper form of prayer. Groaning is an inarticulate tongues; it is a deeper form of tongues.
BIBLE BATTLE on LOCATION around the Defeat at Hormah
WORLD HISTORY TIMELINE at the Defeat at Hormah
Events in History
Below is a history of the World timeline pertaining to the Ancient Middle East joined with the history of the Bible.
This world history timeline shows ancient calendars dates prior to 664 BC based on Rohl’s New Chronology. For a detailed explanation on the coherence of the Bible history timeline with other ancient history events please refer to our chapter “Chronological Discrepancies” for clarification.