The Israelites were given freedom from Egypt by the miraculous hand of God. God gave the Israelites some rules called the Ten Commandments. These Commandments would be The Law that everyone in the nation would follow. These laws were given to the people by God to protect them, to set them apart from the other nations, and to teach them how to live for God.
Main Events of Wandering the Desert:
By the time the Hebrews reached Mt. Sinai, they had seen many wonders by God. They were beginning to see God fulfill His promises to Abraham. A nation was beginning to form. A great nation needs rules and they now had the Ten Commandments, as well as many other laws and regulations. God had given Moses the directions to build the tabernacle and the priesthood was set up through the tribe of Levi and the family of Aaron.
All of the people were organized by tribe. Remember, Jacob had twelve sons. One of those sons, Levi, would be given the responsibility of the tabernacle and given certain cities within each tribe. There is not a tribe of Joseph. But there were the tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh. These were the names of the two sons of Joseph. So Joseph, because of his obedience, was granted a double portion of the nation through his sons.
Numbers 9:5-23 tells of the Hebrew people following the pillar of cloud by day and the fire by night. They would pack up the tabernacle and off they would travel whenever God told them to go. Eventually they reached Kadesh. God told Moses to send out 12 spies, one from each tribe, to spy out the land of Canaan. The men were gone for 40 days. When they returned, the spies reported to the people that the land was just as God described. There was wonderful land! The fruit was magnificent! In fact 2 men carried back a huge cluster of grapes! BUT 10 spies reported that the land also included large fortified cities and giants. They recommended NOT going into the Promised Land. But the other 2 spies, Joshua (from the tribe of Ephraim) and Caleb (from the tribe of Judah) encouraged the people to go and take the land. “God is on our side!” the men said. “Let us go up at once! Do not rebel or fear! The Lord is with us!” But the people wouldn’t listen. In fact, the Israelites were in the process of picking up stones to hurl at Joshua and Caleb when a heavenly voice called out and God’s glory appeared in the tabernacle.
That voice condemned the Hebrew people for their disobedience. As a consequence of their bed choice to not go into the land, the Hebrews would be required to wander the desert for 40 years. All of the Israelites would die, and their children would be the ones to receive the blessing of the Promise Land. All would die, except for 2 men: Caleb and Joshua.
Life Application of Wandering the Desert:
Obedience is a big deal to God. In scripture, God tells us that if we love Him, then we will keep, or obey, His commandments. Disobedience is sin and will have consequences just as the Hebrews received a consequence. On the other hand, obedience comes with rewards. Not necessarily rewards here on earth, although God certainly does bless those who love and obey Him, but obedience definitely means heavenly rewards. Because of Joseph’s obedience during all of his years of turmoil, he rose to be second in command of Egypt AND his sons were blessed with land once Israel reached the Promised Land. Caleb and Joshua were blessed because of their obedience and were the only two of the original generation of Hebrews who would see the land flowing with milk and honey.
I don’t think I’d like to wander in a desert for 40 years. God takes sin seriously. We should as well.