The story of the wandering children of Israel is one of frustration, heartbreak, intercession, and walking with God one day at a time. Forty years of going in circles because of fear—not trusting God to do what He said He would do.
The Jews had cried out to God from Egypt to deliver them from slavery. God did deliver them with “signs and wonders” for ALL to see–Jews and Egyptians alike. Deliverance required a move. Deliverance require trust. These slaves started out well. They packed up and followed Moses out into the desert headed toward a “Promised Land, flowing with milk and honey.” Then, obstacles were encountered and the discomfort of the unknown caused a look back and a longing for the comfortable–the known, even though they had cried out to God for relief! I wish I fully understood this phenomenon. I do the same thing. I find myself gravitating to the miserable known rather than journey toward the unknown with all its promise. I can only imagine how exasperating this must be to our Heavenly Father.
Moses, the leader of these freed slaves becomes so frustrated with them, he sins against God and he misses going into the land of promise. He is allowed to see this land and all its potential, but not one sandal touches this land. Consequences of our decisions can be devastating. Somehow, after dealing with this ungrateful bunch this does not seem quite fair. It leaves me with many questions. Moses is forced through the disobedience of others to wander and wait. Only two slaves released from Egypt over the age of 20 (Numbers 14:28-30) will be allowed to enter the land promised and a forty year wait is required of them. LIFE IS NOT FAIR!
This time out was filled with unspeakable sorrow. Some believe there were nearly 2.5 million Jews released from Egypt. 1-2 million funerals in forty years. 65-130 funerals per day in the desert. 5-10 funerals per tribe (family). A desert littered with mounds of sand covering the deceased. My mind cannot even wrap around this. There was so much sorrow in the desert because their was little faith.
This time out was filled with unimaginable wonder: Deuteronomy 2:7 – “For 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.” God is still their God. He leads them with a cloud by day and a fire by night. He lived among them in a tent. He provided manna every day. He spoke to His people. He prevented their clothes and shoes from wearing out. He NEVER stopped caring for His children. He NEVER canceled His Promise. God the Father did all He promised to do. He too was forced to wait forty years because of the choices of His children. His love was obvious: He conceded to the free will of the children of Israel.
Today, within the family of God are many leaders/parents in time out. Loving families waiting for their prodigals to find their way back. Waiting to enter the land of promise with children who have seen the hand of God move and remain in doubt. They are as frustrated as Moses. They are continuing to try to lead and instruct in the ways of the Lord. They wonder will the child they love ever enter the Promised Land. Some will. Some will not. The decision is an individual one. God gives us the freedom to choose. We have free will.
The wonder of this story to me is this: The children, of all those who chose not to trust God initially, entered the land of Promise! Those who missed God’s best made sure their children knew of the error of their ways and encouraged them to all follow God and trust His heart when they could not see His Hand. We can make grave errors in judgement and still be used by God for the next generation! May we never give up on our children. May our prayers always cover them. May our Hope be in the Lord God of Heaven and Earth. May we wait patiently for the Lord. God’s sovereign will for His children will be accomplished. II Peter 3:9 says: “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.”