The Israelites must have asked that question for 40 years. Was it just about their journey to the Promised Land or was God trying to teach them something along the way? Abraham had complete faith that God was going to bring Him to a new home.
Genesis 12:1-4 Now the Lord had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, unto a land that I will shew thee:
2 And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing:
3 And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.
4 So Abram departed, as the Lord had spoken unto him; and Lot went with him: and Abram was seventy and five years old when he departed out of Haran.
Abraham did not question when God told Him I will bring you to a place I will show you.
Again we see God bringing Israel out of the land of Egypt under severe bondage for 400 years.
Acts 7:6 (KJV)
6 And God spake on this wise, That his seed should sojourn in a strange land; and that they should bring them into bondage, and entreat them evil four hundred years.
God sent them Moses to deliver the Israelites.
Exodus 13:3 And Moses said unto the people, Remember this day, in which ye came out from Egypt, out of the house of bondage; for by strength of hand the Lord brought you out from this place: there shall no leavened bread be eaten
Exodus 14:31 And Israel saw that great work which the Lord did upon the Egyptians: and the people feared the Lord, and believed the Lord, and his servant Moses.
Exodus 16:2 And the whole congregation of the children of Israel murmured against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness:
Exodus 16:8 And Moses said, This shall be, when the Lord shall give you in the evening flesh to eat, and in the morning bread to the full; for that the Lord heareth your murmurings which ye murmur against him: and what are we? your murmurings are not against us, but against the Lord.
What were the Israelites really hungering for? What was really making their stomachs growl?
Exodus 17:3 And the people thirsted there for water; and the people murmured against Moses, and said, Wherefore is this that thou hast brought us up out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and our cattle with thirst?
We see a pattern surfacing here. All they had to do is ask God for water and bread. They really didn’t know Him even after all the plagues of Egypt and the parting of the Red Sea. Personal faith knows that God is faithful, it doesn’t doubt Him.
To be honest I murmur about smaller things than needing water or something to eat. But what should we really do? Pray and ask, very simple. It is knowing God’s character and who He is that causes us to believe.
I want to interject something right here. For many years I had a solid relationship with Jesus and God’s Holy Spirit. I would hear from Him, feel His presence always. One day He said I want you to get to know my Father.
We all know as believers that the Godhead is one and yet three different persons. I thought I already knew God but not like I did Jesus. It was like that window was there but now opened. From that day forward I began to know God more and more. I knew Him as Father and my vindicator but the window was swinging wide open.
I don’t know why this happened in my Christian walk but it did and now I feel as one with God, Jesus and His Holy Spirit.
I know God as not far away but always near. I get excited to read about His miracles in the desert, for the people He loved over and over again. I see His love giving us His Son on the cross to give us eternal life. Do we ever think about this?
Why did the Israelites take 40 years in the desert? God had a plan for them but they didn’t want to do it.
Moses sends men out to spy out the land of milk and honey. This was their opportunity to enter in but fear gripped their heart even though they saw the hand of God to do miracles to bring them out of Egypt and the Egyptians drown in the Red Sea.
27 And they told him, and said, We came unto the land whither thou sentest us, and surely it floweth with milk and honey; and this is the fruit of it.
28 Nevertheless the people be strong that dwell in the land, and the cities are walled, and very great: and moreover we saw the children of Anak there.
29 The Amalekites dwell in the land of the south: and the Hittites, and the Jebusites, and the Amorites, dwell in the mountains: and the Canaanites dwell by the sea, and by the coast of Jordan.
30 And Caleb stilled the people before Moses, and said, Let us go up at once, and possess it; for we are well able to overcome it.
31 But the men that went up with him said, We be not able to go up against the people; for they are stronger than we.
32 And they brought up an evil report of the land which they had searched unto the children of Israel, saying, The land, through which we have gone to search it, is a land that eateth up the inhabitants thereof; and all the people that we saw in it are men of a great stature.
33 And there we saw the giants, the sons of Anak, which come of the giants: and we were in our own sight as grasshoppers, and so we were in their sight.
Our courage must come from the Lord. We won’t stand courages unless we know our God. So we are getting to the problem here with the 40 years of wilderness.
I wrote a poem once called throwing in the towel. It was someone who decided they didn’t want to be married to their Christian wife rather live in an adulterous way of life. We see that sometimes life gets too big for us; they are like giants that want to devour us in one gulp. It was much easier for the Israelites to dance around the golden calf making merry than to face these giants and believe God for victory.
22 Because all those men which have seen my glory, and my miracles, which I did in Egypt and in the wilderness, and have tempted me now these ten times, and have not hearkened to my voice;
23 Surely they shall not see the land which I sware unto their fathers, neither shall any of them that provoked me see it:
24 But my servant Caleb, because he had another spirit with him, and hath followed me fully, him will I bring into the land where into he went; and his seed shall possess it.
What is this different spirit in Caleb? He followed the Lord fully. He was able to go into the promise land full of milk and honey. Murmuring represents doubting, it leaves us to walk this life out on our own without the thought of God’s faithfulness.
26 And the Lord spake unto Moses and unto Aaron, saying,
27 How long shall I bear with this evil congregation, which murmur against me? I have heard the murmurings of the children of Israel, which they murmur against me.
28 Say unto them, As truly as I live, saith the Lord, as ye have spoken in mine ears, so will I do to you:
29 Your carcases shall fall in this wilderness; and all that were numbered of you, according to your whole number, from twenty years old and upward which have murmured against me.
30 Doubtless ye shall not come into the land, concerning which I sware to make you dwell therein, save Caleb the son of Jephunneh, and Joshua the son of Nun.
31 But your little ones, which ye said should be a prey, them will I bring in, and they shall know the land which ye have despised.
32 But as for you, your carcases, they shall fall in this wilderness.
33 And your children shall wander in the wilderness forty years, and bear your whoredoms, until your carcases be wasted in the wilderness.
They had all the fellowship they needed. Can you imagine the songs they could have sung, praises to reach all of heaven, the miracles, the power of God’s Spirit among them and worshipping the Lord in all of His glory. No they were bored with the thought, rather the calf and Egypt is all they could think about. God called it WHOREDOMS.
We are to come out of bondage. The first generation of Israelites was more content being under the bondage of Egypt than being free to enter the Promised Land. How does this apply to my life and to the body of Christ?
We do not have to worry about where do we go from here. We are already here, in the Promised Land. This is the place of rest in the Sovereignty of God, His plans are in His hands. He is telling us to eat from the tree of life, the fruit that produces good and not evil. He tells us to stay away from even the appearance of evil.
I Thessalonians 5:5-8
5 Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness.
6 Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober.
7 For they that sleep sleep in the night; and they that be drunken are drunken in the night.
8 But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation.
I Thessalonians 5:14-24
14 Now we exhort you, brethren, warn them that are unruly, comfort the feebleminded, support the weak, be patient toward all men.
15 See that none render evil for evil unto any man; but ever follow that which is good, both among yourselves, and to all men.
16 Rejoice evermore.
17 Pray without ceasing.
18 In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.
19 Quench not the Spirit.
20 Despise not prophesyings.
21 Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.
22 Abstain from all appearance of evil.
23 And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
24 Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it.
Appearance of evil comes in many forms. It is like a snake in the garden with the appearance of being an angel and yet a devil. We must ask the Lord have we truly come out of Egypt, set our hearts in full devotion to Him as Caleb or are we quenching God’s Holy Spirit? Our flesh driven desires can justify even the things that appear evil and have given our stamp of approval.
Unbelief can take us on a journey that lasts a lifetime in the wilderness. It never trusts God, it relies on Egypt, it murmurs against the hand of God rather than believing in His faithfulness. We are either going to reap a harvest from seeds of faith or we are going to see a barren wilderness at our feet.
The Lord knows the cries of our heart, what we long for, the desire to have fellowship with those who worship in Spirit and in Truth. God’s Holy Spirit leads us into all truth and I believe it is a time of rest, a time of faith, a time of learning with God, His Son Jesus and His Holy Spirit. Unless we know THEM we will never find our way out because doubt leaves the door open for wandering in the desert.
Father, you never abandon or leave us. You are faithful because You cannot deny Yourself. I pray with all my heart that each and every child of Yours will know You fully, remain in Your loving kindness and mercy, be led of Your Spirit as vessels of honor for Your glory. Meet every need, fill every desert place with Your Living Water and Bread of heaven that we will never thirst or hunger for Egypt but only for You. In the precious name of Jesus our Savior I pray.