After the Israelites’ receive the commandments, they begin their trek to reach the Promised Land. Due to their disobedience, they suffer through the wilderness wanderings for forty years.
THE REASON FOR THE WANDERINGS
- The Israelites wandered 40 years in the wilderness before ever reaching the Promised Land.
- Part of their delay was due to worshiping other gods or idols.
- One example was when Moses was on Mt. Sinai receiving the 10 Commandments.
- Under pressure, Aaron made a golden calf for the people to worship (Ex. 32:4).
- God informs Moses what is transpiring down the mountain and tells Moses he wants to destroy the people (Ex. 32:10).
- Moses implores God to spare his wrath (Ex. 32:11-14), but once Moses sees the people, he kills the perpetrators (Ex. 32:27-28).
- Through this incident, Moses develops a shepherd-like quality who would rather be punished than have one his sheep punished (Ex. 32:32; cf. Rom. 9:3; John 10:15).
- Part of their delay was due to grumbling regarding their circumstances.
- They complain about not having enough food (Ex. 16:3), not having enough water (Ex. 15:24-25; 17:2-3; Num. 20:10-13), and even the type of food concerning the manna (Num. 11:6).
- The word “tabernacle” means “dwelling place.”
- The tabernacle was to be in the middle of the camp and God would meet with his people there.
- Exodus 25-31 gives precise instructions concerning the construction.
- Exodus 35-39 records how they followed every command.
- In between these passages, there is the golden calf incident that revealed the Israelites’ ongoing desire for other gods.
The Ark of Covenant
- This sole piece of furniture in the Most Holy Place signified the presence of God while Israel was in the wilderness.
- The ark was a wooden chest, overlaid with pure gold.
- It contained the original stone tablets of the 10 Commandments, an urn that contained some manna, and Aaron’s staff.
- The ark was not to be touched by human hands, but priests would hold it on poles.
- The cherubim had wings outstretched over the mercy seat.
The Death of Moses
- Standing upon the cusp of entering the Promised Land, Moses gathered the nation of Israel together for final instructions (The Book of Deuteronomy) before embarking upon their long-awaited entry.
- The only adults remaining from the original Exodus party are Moses, Joshua, and Caleb (Num. 14:30).
- As they are about to take the land, God tells Moses that he will not lead the people into the Promised Land due to sin he committed in the wilderness.
- On two recorded occasions at the same location, the people complained about not having water.
- The first time, God instructs Moses to strike the rock and water comes out (Ex. 17:6).
- The second time, God instructs Moses to speak to the rock, but Moses strikes it instead (Num. 20:10-13).
- While God provides water on both occasions, God takes Moses’ action as an attempt to take the glory away from God, and he is unable to enter into the Promised Land (Deut. 32:48-52).
- Moses dies overlooking the location for which he had searched for 40 years and is buried on that mountain by God.
- Moses gets to see the land but never put his feet on that land.
- Or does he (Matt. 17:1-8)?
- Moses dies while “his eye was undimmed, and his vigor unabated” (Deut. 34:7), and “there has not arisen a prophet since in Israel like Moses, whom the LORD knew face to face” (Deut. 34:10).
Travis Agnew serves as the Lead Pastor of Rocky Creek Church in Greenville, SC. His most recent book is Just (About) Married.