40 Days to Jerusalem
The New Exodus Begins ‚Äì Day 21
Weekly Theme: Through the Wilderness
Today‚Äôs Meditation:Israel - ‚ÄúWandering‚Äù in the Wilderness, Stumbling in the Dark
Why did the Children of Israel wander in the wilderness for 40 years? Let‚Äôs review. Israel was right on the precipice of entering the Promised Land. Twelve spies had been dispatched on a reconnaissance mission to scope out the prospects. When they returned, ten out of the twelve reported that giants inhabited the land. They warned that these great and mighty specimens of humanity were too much to overtake. Only Caleb and Joshua gave a favorable assessment. Responding to the ‚Äúmajority report,‚Äù the people go into a near panic. Rebellion and open defiance mark their response to God and Moses as they face the prospect of being devastated by gargantuan monster-men. Rather than trust God and Moses, they talk openly of choosing a new leader who might lead them back to Egypt. Though Moses talks God out of disowning Israel, God‚Äôs judgment would be strict. Since the spies were in the land for 40 days, God would cause the Israelites to wander in the wilderness for 40 years. None of them 20 years and older would ever enter the Promised Land ‚Äì except for Caleb and Joshua who had faith in God and trusted Him to overcome any obstacle they might face.
Moses brought the dreadful news to the people. When Moses reported this to all the Israelites, they mourned bitterly. 40 Early the next morning they set out for the highest point in the hill country, saying, ‚ÄúNow we are ready to go up to the land the Lord promised. Surely we have sinned!‚Äù 41 But Moses said, ‚ÄúWhy are you disobeying the Lord‚Äôs command? This will not succeed! 42 Do not go up, because the Lord is not with you. You will be defeated by your enemies, 43 for the Amalekites and the Canaanites will face you there. Because you have turned away from the Lord, he will not be with you and you will fall by the sword.‚Äù
44 Nevertheless, in their presumption they went up toward the highest point in the hill country, though neither Moses nor the ark of the Lord‚Äôs covenant moved from the camp. 45 Then the Amalekites and the Canaanites who lived in that hill country came down and attacked them and beat them down all the way to Hormah (Numbers 14:39-45).
What a powerful lesson is presented here. It was a deadly sin for the Children of Israel to disregard God‚Äôs deliverance, and to reject His plan to lead them into the Promised Land. Rather than place themselves in God‚Äôs hands, they washed their hands of God and His provisions for them. The result was that they could live out their mortal days, but they would never enter the land God wanted to give them. In effect, they were the walking dead and their destiny was to fall in the wasteland of the wilderness.
God had delivered them from Egypt. What was the response of the people? The first time they were hungry they wanted to return to slavery so that they could have a meal. God led through the sea and destroyed the Egyptian army‚Ä¶then on to Sinai. When Moses didn‚Äôt return soon enough for them, what was the response of the people? They fashioned a golden calf and worshiped it! Now, God shows them the land He has staked out for them. What was the response of the people? They focused on the insurmountable giants, failed to trust in God‚Äôs providence and power, and plotted to return to the old way of life in Egypt. So, what was God‚Äôs response? If they would not enter the Promised Land, God would allow them to die in their fickle weakness.
How do they respond to God‚Äôs righteous judgment? They decide to enter the Promised Land by themselves. Despite their best efforts to claim the Promised Land on their own, God was not with them! Neither the Ark of the Covenant, nor Moses was with them! On their own they were soundly defeated by the local inhabitants. From there, for forty years they crept through the wilderness. Theirs was a living death ‚Äì a path of curses that replaced the great blessings God had in store for them.
This living death is not unique to the unfaithful Children of Israel who failed to trust God and embrace His plan for them. They are not alone. Many others have wandered and walked in the darkness. After Jesus‚Äô triumphal entry into Jerusalem, and the coming of the Greek men to see Him, Jesus says, ‚ÄúThe hour has come for the Son of man to be gloried‚Äù (John 12:23). Jesus had come to Jerusalem to begin the New Exodus. Jesus says to the crowd, ‚ÄúYou are going to have the light just a little while longer. Walk while you have the light, before darkness overtakes you. Whoever walks in the dark does not know where they are going. 36 Believe in the light while you have the light, so that you may become children of light.‚Äù
Opportunities to follow the Lord, to trust in His provisions for us, call for a response from us. What will we do? If we turn our backs on God‚Äôs provision, and if we desire to stay where we are, in bondage to sin and Satan, we will be destined to stumble in the darkness ‚Äì a path that leads to destruction. Walking in the darkness means that we have no idea where we are going. If we walk in the dark the shadows will overtake us. We will be like those unfaithful Israelites, the living dead ‚Äì destined to live out our days in futility, but never to enter into the Promised Land that God has staked out for us.
What should we do? Walk in the light! Believe in the light! Follow the light! Jesus said, ‚ÄúI am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life‚Äù (John 8:12). Don‚Äôt wander in the darkness that leads to death. Follow the light that leads to life‚Ä¶eternal life‚Ä¶nothing less than the heavenly Promised Land!
Praise God for being faithful and trustworthy
Praise God for His provisions for our lives, and preparing a place for us in Heavenly Promised Land
Give thanks to Jesus for being the Way, and the Light
Ask the Holy Spirit to help you trust God with your entire life
Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal any unconfessed sin
Repent, confess and ask the Lord to forgive you
Receive His forgiveness
Ask the Lord to reveal someone who is walking in the darkness, not sure where they are going. Share the light with them so that they will have life and become children of God!
‚ÄúDo not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. 2 My Father‚Äôs house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. 4 You know the way to the place where I am going.‚Äù 5 Thomas said to him, ‚ÄúLord, we don‚Äôt know where you are going, so how can we know the way?‚Äù 6 Jesus answered, ‚ÄúI am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me‚Äù (John 14:1-6).