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Instructions To Their Children
by Wayne Blank
"And thou shalt remember all the way which The Lord thy God led thee these forty years in the wilderness, to humble thee, and to prove thee, to know what was in thine heart"
If one looks at a map of the region between Egypt and Israel, the question of why it took 40 years to travel a straight-line distance of only about 240 miles is rather startling. Why an average of only 6 miles per year, which seems incredibly slow, even for people on foot? The answer, as made clear in the Scripture quote above, is because the 40 years wilderness wandering wasn't a journey, as much as it was a death sentence for those who had refused the opportunity to enter the Promised Land not long after they left Egypt. Instead of a relatively direct course from Egypt to Israel, the generation that refused to enter their Promised Land turned back and wandered around and around in the wilderness until they were all gone (except for the few that were obedient and courageous, such as Joshua). For them, the Exodus became a journey without a destination.
Numbers chapters 13 and 14 describes how, as the Israelites were approaching their entry into Promised land, from the south, through the Negev Desert (Numbers 13:17), 12 Israelite scouts were sent ahead to gather information. What they found truly was a land blessed with milk and honey (Numbers 13:27). However, it was also occupied by formidable Canaanite forces (Numbers 13:28-29), which caused all of the scouts, except Joshua and Caleb, to lose courage (while ignoring the fact that with God fighting their battles for them they were undefeatable), so they gave a false report to the people. This in turn caused the people to lose heart, and to actually want to return to their slavery in Egypt (Numbers 14:3). At one point they were about to stone Moses who desperately tried to encourage the people to remain obedient and courageous (Numbers 14:5-6,10), but they wouldn't listen. It was a very costly mistake, for them. As with the future Kingdom of God itself, there will be no disobedient, or cowards, there:
"He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son. But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death" (Revelation 21:7-8 KJV)
So, forty years later, after those who refused to courageously enter the Promised Land when they had been given the opportunity to do so had died out in the wilderness, their children were given to enter the Promised Land. Some of their final instructions before crossing the Jordan:
"All the commandments which I command thee this day shall ye observe to do, that ye may live, and multiply, and go in and possess the land which The Lord sware unto your fathers. And thou shalt remember all the way which The Lord thy God led thee these forty years in the wilderness, to humble thee, and to prove thee, to know what was in thine heart, whether thou wouldest keep his commandments, or no. And he humbled thee, and suffered thee to hunger, and fed thee with manna, which thou knewest not, neither did thy fathers know; that he might make thee know that man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of The Lord doth man live. Thy raiment waxed not old upon thee, neither did thy foot swell, these forty years. Thou shalt also consider in thine heart, that, as a man chasteneth his son, so The Lord thy God chasteneth thee" (Deuteronomy 8:1-5 KJV)
Fact Finder: As quoted above, Revelation 21:7-8 plainly describes that those who violate God's Ten Commandments "shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone." How does the Word of God say that we are to truly obey God's Ten Commandments?
The First Commandment