Meddle Not

Deuteronomy 2:1 - 7 (KJV) Then we turned, and took our journey into the wilderness by the way of the Red sea, as the LORD spake unto me: and we compassed mount Seir many days. 2And the LORD spake unto me, saying, 3Ye have compassed this mountain long enough: turn you northward.

4And command thou the people, saying, Ye [are] to pass through the coast of your brethren the children of Esau, which dwell in Seir; and they shall be afraid of you: take ye good heed unto yourselves therefore:

5Meddle not with them; for I will not give you of their land, no, not so much as a foot breadth; because I have given mount Seir unto Esau [for] a possession. 6Ye shall buy meat of them for money, that ye may eat; and ye shall also buy water of them for money, that ye may drink.

7For the LORD thy God hath blessed thee in all the works of thy hand: he knoweth thy walking through this great wilderness: these forty years the LORD thy God [hath been] with thee; thou hast lacked nothing.

The children of Israel were camped in the mountainous area around Seir or Edom.[1] This region was occupied by Edomites, Moabies and Ammonites.

The Word says the children of Israel were there around Seir for many days. John Wesley is one of several commentators who says that could have been for 38 years![2] Just goes to show that a literal interpretation of passages in the Bible is not always the best interpretation. We do not need to be afraid of interpretations of the Word that are not literal. God can speak to us through the Bible when we interpret most of the Bible literally as well as God can speak to us through the Word when we interpret large portions of the Bible in non-literal ways.

Verse 3. In the Hebrew, the word translated compassed is very rich in meaning. There are many meanings in the Hebrew. The word means to walk around, “to be on every side.”[3] A couple of other interesting meanings are to avoid and to besiege.

We no longer to avoid where we are going. As Believers, the things of God and God's direction are things from which we no longer hide. God says turn you northward. In Hebrew, the meaning is to turn toward the “unknown.”[4] The future with the Lord has a few unknowns. There are some risks there, but the Lord goes with us into that unknown spiritual journey and gives us safe passage into the kingdom.

The world says, "Go west young person," and our youth head to the west coast. God says, "Go north young person." Turning north was going to Canaan.[5] God points gay, lesbian, bisexual, and trans-identified people toward the promised land, toward the new Jerusalem, not toward Lotus land and materialism.

Verse 5 Meddle not with them. They were to avoid conflict with the people in the area, the Edomites, the Moabites and the Ammonites.[6] The Moabites were the descendants of an incest between Lot and his daughter.[7] Israelites hated Ammonites. The Ammonites were nomadic and predatory descendants of Lot. And they worshiped a pagan god, Moloch.[8] Perhaps Ammonites were hated because of religion and life style. Edomites were Esau's idol-worshiping descendants.[9]

Not only was there to be no conflict with the local people, they were to buy any food they needed.[10] Taking food by force or stealing food was prohibited. The children of Israel could afford to purchase food, because God provided for them for 40 years.[11]

Queer Christians are not to seek out conflict with homophobic or transphobic people just for the sake of creating conflict. We are to treat our straight brothers and sisters in Christ with respect. That means we lobby for change, we rally for change, we negotiate change, but we do not use unethical means to obtain our God-given rights.

There are a few things we can apply from the Bible portion to our lives.

First, God does not owe you. God does not owe me, nor does anybody else. Just because we are on a journey to the promised land with God does not mean God owes us. The Lord will provide for us, because we are God's children, but the Lord does not owe us. Hey, you might be cute, but you ain't that cute!

Being a lay leader in a congregation, an elder, a deacon, a Sunday School teacher or a worship leader does not mean either God or the assembly owes you. God and congregations do not owe pastors either. While a local body should try to be fair to a pastor and pay a pastor as appropriate salary, churches do not owe a pastor just because he or she is serving God.

And nobody owes our church either. We have no reason to expect people to reduce all of their prices and to give us all of the equipment and supplies we need just because we believe Jesus is the King! When we go shopping for the congregation, we need to check out attitude before we walk in the door of the business or the store. Or we will offend people in the name of the Lord. An effective witness is compromised by attitude or what may appear to be greed.

Second, “When God’s people are not walking according to God's will, they are ‘only walking in circles.’”[12] Doing things our way is not making progress. There may be a lot of movement, but movement should not be confused with progress. Motion does not always mean progress.[13] For example, the pendulum in a grandfather’s clock is always moving, but it never goes anywhere. The second hand on a clock or a watch moves continually, doing a 360 every minute. But the second hand never gets anywhere. That hand stays right on the clock all the time. And the piston in an engine goes up and down. At times, that piston goes up and down like 90 man! But the piston does not leave the confinement of the engine block.

Before God was ruling our lives, we are standing still spiritually, even though our lives may be a constant blur of activity. When God is fully in control, God does godly things in our lives and we really make progress in our lives. With God at the helm of our lives, we make progress even when it appears there is no motion, just complete rest.

Many people are tired of the rat race of their lives. They desperately want things to slow down. Instead their lives become more and more busy, as they go around and around in circles, doing their own thing, not God’s thing. When God works in our lives, doing His will, incorporating Himself in our lives, we have rest and peace.

Third, like the children of Israel, we are no longer in slavery in the Egypt of sin, but we are not yet in the promised land. We are in route. And we have been wandering around the desert for many days. There are people around us, the people who are very much like us are just enough different that they frighten us and make us question our belief system. They have worship different gods, go to different churches, are involved in life styles we do not like. These people are to be treated with respect. We are not to take what belongs to them, we do not beg from them. We are not to fight with them.

And the good news is that God is speaking to our hearts, is changing us and is making us into a people who walk, talk and live out justice. The Eternal is making us into a people who treat all people we encounter, regardless of how much they threaten us spiritually and emotionally, fairly and with respect and dignity. As a result of those changes in our lives, the Lord is doing powerful evangelism.


[1] John Wesley.  “Wesley’s Explanatory Notes.”  e-Sword.  (Leiper’s Fork, Tennessee:  e-Sword v.6.5.0 Software, 2002).

[2] John Wesley.  “Wesley’s Explanatory Notes.”  e-Sword.  (Leiper’s Fork, Tennessee:  e-Sword v.6.5.0 Software, 2002), C.E. Keil and D. Delitzsch.  “Keil and Delitzsch Old Testament Commentaries.”   e-Sword.  (Leiper’s Fork, Tennessee:  e-Sword v.6.5.0 Software, 2002) and Matthew Henry.  “Matthew Henry‘s Commentary on the Whole Bible.  e-Sword.  (Leiper’s Fork, Tennessee:  e-Sword v.6.5.0 Software, 2002).

[3]Strong’s Hebrew and Greek Dictionary.”  e-Sword.  (Leiper’s Fork, Tennessee:  e-Sword v.6.5.0 Software, 2002).

[4]Strong’s Hebrew and Greek Dictionary.”  e-Sword.  (Leiper’s Fork, Tennessee:  e-Sword v.6.5.0 Software, 2002).

[5] A. Cohen.  The Soncino Chumash.  (London:  Soncino Press, 1993), 996.

[6] Kenneth Barker, et. Al.,  eds.  The NIV Study BibleNew International Version.  (Grand Rapids, Michigan:  Zondervan Pub. House, 1985), 247.

[7] Charles G. Herbermann, et. al., eds.  The Catholic Encyclopedia.  Vol. 10.  (New York:  Robert Appleton, 1911), 409.

[8] Smith's Bible Dictionary, 15.

[9] Smith's Bible Dictionary, 84.

[10] Frederick C. Eiselen, Edwin Lewis and David G. Downey, eds.  The Abingdon Bible Commentary.  (New York:  Abingdon Press, 1929), 322.

[11] Eiselen, Lewis and Downey, 322.

[12] Kenneth Trent.  “You Have Walked This Mountain Long Enough.”  Sermon Central.  (Internet Web Site:  URL

[13] Kenneth Trent.  “You Have Walked This Mountain Long Enough.”  Sermon Central.  (Internet Web Site:  URL

1 1 1 1