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  • Rick LoPresti

Take your journey

The journeys of the nation of Israel are recorded in great detail in the Bible because they have many lessons to teach us today. 1Corinthians 10:1-13 and Hebrews 3-4 teach us that we should not make the same mistakes they made in the wilderness. There are also many other lessons and principles to be drawn from this history. One of them is taking the journey in the first place.

The history of Israel's journeys start about 500 years earlier in Genesis 12 with Abraham who was called Abram at that time. In verses 1-3, God told him when he was 75 years old to leave his homeland and his family and go to a land He would show him. Abraham journeyed all around that land for 100 years. It was 25 years before his promised son Isaac was born. During his journeys, God told him his descendants would go to live in another nation for 400 years and be brought into slavery. After that God would bring them out and into the land he was promised (Gen 15:13-16). God told him that the reason it would take that long for all of that to happen was because the iniquity of the Amorites who were living in the land then was not yet full. Abraham died and left the promise of God to his son Isaac, and Isaac left it to his son Jacob. Jacob had 12 sons who became the patriarchs of the 12 tribes of Israel. During a famine, Jacob's family moved to Egypt where they were taken into slavery. Abraham teaches us that no matter what stage of life we are in, it is never too late in God's plan to start a new journey. He also shows us that no matter how long it takes, God will always keep His word.

After 400 years, God sent Moses to lead Israel out of there to the land He had promised Abraham (Ex 12-15). Upon their departure, God did not lead them the short way to Canaan through the land of the Philistines (Ex 13:17-18). God was concerned that they would see war, repent, and turn back to Egypt. They had been in slavery for 400 years and were not yet ready for war. Instead, God led them to the Red Sea in a place where they had no way to go except either back or through the Red Sea which seemed impossible. God knows what we are ready or not to handle. Sometimes He leads us in way that makes no sense to us, but He sees and knows all. The Egyptians went after the Israelites and they became afraid based on what they could see. God told them to stand still and hold their peace because He was going to fight for them (Ex 14:13-14). He told them to go forward which was impossible for them to do on their own. God parted the Red Sea and they walked through it on dry ground. When the Egyptians tried to follow them, they drowned. God will do for us what we cannot do ourselves when we trust and obey Him.

God had told Moses to tell the king of Egypt that the Israelites were going 3 days journey into the wilderness to sacrifice to God (Ex 3:18, Ex 5:3, Ex 8:27). When they got there, they found no water. Then they found bitter water and named the place Marah which means bitterness. They complained, and God healed the waters for them. Their next stop was Elim where they found 12 wells, the same number as the tribes of Israel. They also found 70 palm trees, the same number as the elders of Israel. Sometimes we are right where God wants us, but it doesn't seem like it because it is a test and not a convenient circumstance. There is always a blessing to follow in one way or another after the test.

Not long after that, the Amelekites came to fight Israel, but God gave them the victory in their first battle (Ex 17:8-16). Then they traveled to Mt. Sinai (Ex 19:1). There, Moses received the ten commandments and many other laws. They stayed there for just over a year until it was time to move on (Num 10:11-12). God told Moses to tell them they had dwelt at Mt. Sinai long enough. It was time for them to take their journey and go possess the promised land (Deut 1:1-8). Sometimes we are in a good place, but God knows we need to move on to other things even though we like where we are at and are used to it.

It was only an 11 day journey to what was supposed to be their last stop before the promised land, but it turned into a 40 year wandering in the wilderness because of their unbelief (Num 13-14). We can make our journey take much longer than necessary, and we can miss out altogether on what God wants to bless us with because of unbelief which is manifested in disobedience.

During their wandering, they had to pass through the land of the Edomites who were the descendants of Jacob's twin brother Esau (Num 20:14-22). Moses told them they would pass through on the main highway and if they needed anything they would pay for it. The Edomites refused them passage and came out to stop them by force. The Israelites had to go around the long way. After many days, God told Moses they had gone around Mt. Seir long enough and it was time to go another direction (Deut 2:1-8). We should understand that people are not always doing what God wants, and that can result in opposition for those who are.

After that, the Canaanites attacked them (Num 21:1-3), but Israel again triumphed. Then they had two more battles against Sihon the king of the Amorites and Og the king of Bashan (Num 21:21-35). Israel won again, and these lands became the home of 2 and half of their tribes (Num 32). These 2 battles are mentioned 28 times in the rest of the Bible. We should remember our past victories as inspiration for current battles.

The Midianites hired the soothsayer Balaam to curse the Israelites so they could overcome them, but God turned the curse into a blessing (Num 22-24). So instead they lured Israel into cursing themselves by using their women to lure them into idolatry which was accompanied by fornication (Num 25:7-18, Deut 23:4-5, Josh 24:9-10, Neh 13:2, Mic 6:5, Rev 2:14). God ordered Israel to attack the Midianites, and Balaam died in the battle (Num 31:1-16, Josh 13:22). The devil knows he cannot defeat God, and that he cannot defeat us when we are keeping God's commandments (Rom 8:31-39, 1n 5:4). So he tries to get us to defeat ourselves through sin.

Our journey with God will involve tests of faith and patience, battles, and adversity. It is vital to not only go through what we face in the journey, but to go in the first place. We cannot finish the journey if we don't go or only go part of the way. We cannot just stop at one point and decide we like it there. Neither can we start and change our minds. We will never know all that God has for us, and we may even miss out altogether if we do not continue until the end. The promised land is better than Egypt or the wilderness. We are just passing through this life on the way to eternity. Where we end up is more up to us than God because He wants us to finish well. He will provide everything we need to take the journey if we will walk by faith.

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