Read Numbers 33
The wandering was done. That pointless, sin-induced 40-year trip from wilderness to wilderness. It was time to send in the Israelites. Time for them to claim the promise.
The one their parents had forsaken with fear and betrayal when they believed the ten men who told them it wasn’t going to work.
I read these fifty-six verses and think how difficult it is for me to pronounce the names of so many of these places God led them through.
It started the day after the Passover.
On the day after the Passover, the people of Israel went out triumphantly in the sight of all the Egyptians, while the Egyptians were burying all their firstborn. (vv3-4)
Their wandering journey started with the clear movement of God’s hand on their behalf. The unmistakable saving grace that He granted. The amazing and all-powerful work of God the LORD.
I wonder what it was like for Moses as he recalled every place they had travelled through. Every stop they had made along the way.
Did each name bring back memories, whether good or bad? As Moses penned each one, did he remember details, colors, smells, feelings?
As we read through this summary to the end of these wilderness wanderings, we might sum up the journey with three simple points about God.
1. God sees. He walked His children Israel through every piece of that wilderness. He never left them to fend for themselves. Continually provided, even in their ingratitude.
2. God wanted His people to never forget the journey He had brought them through. Every step those fathers took through that wilderness wandering was noted and important along the journey to the promise. Even in the wandering, God used every step to reveal Himself as holy and purposeful and faithful and good.
3. Complaining is a big deal to God. He takes it personally when His people grumble against the leaders He provides. Or whatever He provides. Because He alone is the Provider. When God’s people complain, He views it as an affront to His very Name. The I Am. The LORD.
The fact that God had Moses record all these things reveals something of its importance to us as well. The Israelites’ 40-year journey through the wilderness changed the course of an entire nation. And it changes us today.
Because we can learn from their mistakes. We can rejoice in their promise. We can rest in the Presence of God with us.