June 23, 2014


It takes 11 days to go from Horeb to Kadesh Barnea (see Deut. 1). That means that less than two weeks after Moses received from God the tablets of stone containing the Ten Commandments (twice), the children of Israel could have been in the Promised Land. Instead they spent 40 years wandering in the desert. And while the desert is beautiful, it didn’t compare to the glories God had in store for His people.

Why would anyone want to spend 40 years in such a desolate place? Simply stated: They preferred the desolation they knew to the undertaking they couldn’t imagine. They listened to those who urged the status quo over the brave souls who lobbied for adventure. True, they didn’t know for sure what lay beyond the Jordan River, but those who pressed the company forward knew they would be traveling under God’s guidance and protection.

When faced with a choice, most of the Israelites chose the status quo. In fact, some declared: “If only we had died in Egypt! Or in this wilderness!” (Num. 14:2).

Imagine preferring death over adventure! Their wish was essentially to live in the past, where the territory was familiar and they knew all the answers, rather than stride boldly into the future, where the risks were great, but so were the rewards.

I’m getting a little weary of people who infer that God’s ideal for His people is for them to somehow reclaim the past. Our past experiences were formative; but we can’t keep doing as we’ve done and expect different results.

God’s word to Moses was: “You have stayed long enough at this mountain. . . . Go in and take possession of the land” (Deut. 1:6-8).