Author: Ron Graham
—And renewal after apostasy
Time ~ 3. Wandering in the Wilderness
Span ~ 40 years
Books ~ Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy
Figures ~ Moses
Begins with ~ Exodus from Egypt across Red Sea
Ends with ~ Entry into promised Land across Jordan
This lesson highlights a bewildering characteristic of the wilderness Israelites —their frequent acts of disobedience.
1 At Every Stage
As we have seen, the period of Wandering in the Wilderness falls into three parts:
1. The three-month journey from the Red Sea to Sinai,
2. The two-year encampment at Sinai,
3. Wandering 38 years before entering the promised land.
Disobedience and rebellion characterise each of these periods:
After the Exodus the people were quick to start grumbling (Exodus 15).
At Sinai they made and worshipped a golden calf (Exodus 32). Nadab and Abihu did not abide by God's commandments for worship, but did as they saw fit (Leviticus 10).
After Sinai there were many instances of disobedience.
2 Bible Summary (Numbers 10-36)
- Departure from Sinai (10)
- The fire and the quail (11)
- Miriam's rebellion and leprosy (12)
- Spying out Canaan -rebellion upon report of spies (13)
- Israel's distrust -Joshua and Caleb are a different spirit (14)
- That generation denied entry into promised land (14)
- Going without God (14)
- Laws about offerings (15)
- A sabbath-breaker stoned (15)
- Tassels for a reminder (15)
- The insolence of Korah (16)
- The budding of Aaron's staff (17)
- Duties of the Levites (18)
- Sprinkling ceremonies (19)
- Water from the rock -Moses's sin (20)
- Edom refuses passage to the Israelites (20)
- Aaron dies (20)
- Arad attacks and is destroyed (21)
- The bronze snake on a pole (21)
- Amorites refuse passage (21)
- BALAAM'S ORACLES IN MOAB (22-24)
- Israel sins in Moab (25)
- Census taken in Moab (26)
- A man without sons (27)
- Joshua succeeds Moses (27)
- Offerings and feasts (28-29)
- Laws about vows (30)
- Vengeance on the Midianites (31)
- Tribes east of Jordan (32)
- LIST OF WILDERNESS JOURNEYS (33)
- Boundaries of the promised land (34)
- Towns for Levites and cities of refuge (35)
- Whom daughter-heirs may marry (36)
3 Apostasy and Renewal
In the "church in the wilderness" —and their descendants in the promised land— we see a "type" or foreshadowing of the church of Christ.
The story of the Israelites is characterised by the many cycles of fall and renewal.
Time and again they fell into disobedience, then made a restoration. The history of the church is the same. So it is up to us to see that we are part of a renewal and restoration, not a part of a falling away into disobedience, error, and apostasy.
4 Before and After
Before the period of wilderness wandering, there were numerous examples of disobedience to God. You will recall how, in the time of the PROMISES TO ABRAHAM, Joseph's brothers sinned in selling him into slavery.
Even Moses, a giant among people of faith, was not without a record of sin. In the time of the BONDAGE IN EGYPT, when Moses lived in Midian, he neglected the covenant of circumcision and God was going to kill him, however his wife saved the day (Exodus 4:24-26).
After the period of wilderness wandering, during the CONQUEST OF CANAAN, when judges ruled the Israelites, the people disobeyed God by not driving out all the inhabitants of the land. Consequently, their children were drawn into worshipping the Baals and "there arose a generation arose who did not know God". In their own promised land they became slaves to the people they should have conquered. God raised up judges to restore them, but time and again they fell back into the same error (Judges 2).
In the time of the KINGDOM OF DAVID when David and Solomon ruled, David sinned when he took Basheba. Solomon loved a thousand foreign women who turned away his heart to serve false gods.
In the time of the DIVIDED KINGDOM there were many wicked kings such as Ahab, who married the wicked Jezebel who set out to exterminate God's prophets (1Kings 16-21). Elisha predicted an ugly death for her (2Kings 9:10,30-37).
In all the other periods the same story continues. Even in the time of the COMING OF THE SON of God, the religious leaders opposed him and sought to kill him (John 5:18).