Numbers 33:1 - 56
ESV - 1 These are the stages of the people of Israel, when they went out of the land of Egypt by their companies under the leadership of Moses and Aaron. 2 Moses wrote down their starting places, stage by stage, by command of the Lord, and these are their stages according to their starting places.
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This is the historical record of the 40 years of wilderness wanderings by the nation of Israel. The fact that each location of their encampment is named, proves that the record is true. When we read all the other biblical information about this period of history, we discover some important truths. 1. Because of their fear and unfaithfulness to enter the Promised Land (10 of 12 spies said, “No don't go.”), God declared that not one of them would enter his rest (the Promised Land). Every adult 20 years or older (except Joshua and Caleb) would die in the wilderness. The children all watched their parents die for their unfaithfulness. 2. God led the people by a "cloud" during the day and a "pillar of fire in the cloud" by night. Whenever the cloud stopped, that is where the Israelites stayed. They did not leave until the cloud began to move ahead of them 3. There was no food or water in this wilderness, so God miraculously provided manna (the food of angels) in the morning and quail in the evening. When there were no oases of water at their encampment, God miraculously brought forth water from the rocks. God miraculously kept their clothes and sandals from wearing out for 40 years. 4. The Israelites constantly "grumbled, complained, whined and were unfaithful" as God led them. They wanted to go back to Egypt. They were sick and tired of the manna and wanted meat. The complained when there was no water in sight. 5. The children that were born in the wilderness and those who were under 20 years and made the whole journey, were "hardened and toughened up" by life in the wilderness. They were a people of faith, they saw how God provided for them for 40 years, and they experienced God's presence as they worshipped at the Tabernacle. When God brought them back to the Promised Land, they were ready, willing and able to fight for it and take possession of their promised inheritance. God will take each Christian through various wilderness experiences, to toughen us up, to strengthen our faith, so we are able to engage in the battles to bring the kingdom of God (justice, righteousness, love and faithfulness) into our lives and into our world, to push back the presence and control of all the forces of spiritual darkness. Because of our faithfulness in carrying on the mission that Jesus has given us, our Promised Land is a mansion in heaven and an eternal inheritance in the new earth that Jesus will create. Will we grumble, complain and whine about our present circumstances (wilderness) or will we live out our faith with perseverance and determination?
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