The One Year® Chronological Bible, NKJV (Tyndale, 2013), March 10
Israel moves 40 times in 40 years (Numbers 33). God utilizes each of these moves as learning experiences for Israel in the wilderness as well as for future generations.
Truths Israel learns about God while moving about in the wilderness:
- God is not like the gods of Egypt. He is personal, holy, and takes exception to complaining, sin, and unbelief.
- God is holy and will be treated as such by His people. His manifest presence among His people is contingent upon their obedience to the sacrificial system that He gives.
- God prepares His people spiritually and physically to enter the land of Canaan. Commands to break up camp prepare Israel physically for conquering the Canaanites. Trying situations, such as waterless and meatless camping places, teach Israel that God is not limited to man's resources.
- God can be trusted for daily provisions.
- Dietary laws given by God demonstrate His care for the health of His people.
- Organizational laws and regulations given by God bring structure and create safe places in which people may thrive.
- Sacrificial laws given by God demonstrate His willingness to atone for man's sin.
- God gives instructions regarding the future because only He knows the future.
Truths Israel discovers about themselves as they move about in the wilderness:
- Israel is "Egyptian" in much of their thinking about God and about life; they need to learn what it means to be "God's chosen people."
- Responsibility toward God and others accompanies freedom from slavery. Laws given by God are for man's personal and communal good. Selfishness and unbelief cause communal life to implode.
- It is those who live by faith, not by sight, who please God.
- False views of God need to be replaced with an accurate view of God, or Israel will succumb to idolatry.
- Man must keep his flesh in check, or sexual immorality will destroy him, his family, and the community.
- Man may not worship God in any way that he pleases.
- Man is prone to forget what God has done in the past; therefore, God establishes annual events to keep His past activity before the people.
- The future good of the community depends on the people's Bible literacy.
We sometimes may chafe at the way God leads us now, but His leading is good, disciplinary, and ultimately for our best. Rejoice in the days in which it seemed as if you were wandering as you sought God's will.
Questions from today's reading (Numbers 32:1-33:56):
Why do the two and a half tribes decide to remain on the eastern side of the Jordan River?
How does Moses respond to their request?