The Israelites Forty Year Trip to the Promised Land

It took the Israelites forty years to make an eleven day trip from Egypt to the Promised Land. Have you ever wondered why it took them so long? After all, the God of Israel performed miraculous signs: 10 Plagues of Egypt, the parting of the Red Sea, pillars of fire to free them from slavery only to have them wander around in the wilderness for 40 years? Do you feel as though you are currently in the wilderness? Have you been going around the “same mountain” over and over, unable to make it to the Promised Land that the Lord has waiting for you? Let’s take a moment to look at the mindset of the newly freed Israelites to see what took them so long.

The Lord declared to the Children of Israel: “Because the men who explored the land were there for forty days, you must wander in the wilderness for forty years-a year for each day, suffering the consequences of your sins. You will discover what it is like to have me for an enemy.” (Numbers 14:34)

From the moment the Lord brought them out Egypt, the children of Israel tested His patience by murmuring and complaining about the food (manna from Heaven) and constantly speaking unbelief in God’s promise of the Promise Land. Numbers Chapter: 14 records the most impressive and important bit of lessoned learned when one is going through a testing period (wilderness): Our attitude towards God. Are we complaining over and over about our situation, and from the complaining do we allow the seed of unbelief to sprout in our life causing our never-ending existence in the wilderness?

Many say the Lord was able to physically bring the children of Israel from Egypt, unfortunately they remained in bondage to Egyptian life, mentally and spiritually. When the Children of Israel complained that all they had to eat was the manna from Heaven, God sent them pheasants to eat. He supplied all their needs, even their clothes did not wear out after being forty years in the desert. The only thing that the Lord asked for in return was obedience. The Children of Israel were witness to so many miraculous events it boggles the mind while trying to understand their wavering unbelief and lack of confidence in God when He had previously provided them with so much.

Consequences of an Evil Report (Unbelief in God)

When told to go spy out the Promised Land, ten of the twelve spies came back with an evil report in sight of the Lord, declaring that they could not conquer the land, choosing to believe the absolute contrary of what God told them. The spies claimed that due to the Giant inhabitants they were unable to conquer the land. The Children of Israel claimed, “We can’t go up against them! They are stronger than we are!” So they spread discouraging reports about the land among the Israelites: “The land we explored will swallow up any who go to live there. All the people we saw were huge. We even saw giants there, the descendants of Anak. We felt like grasshoppers next to them, and that’s what we looked like to them!” They allowed the sprit of fear to flourish within their souls. Romans 8:15 explains, “For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship.”

It is remarkable how in today’s world, people do the same thing as the Children of Israel did in the past. Evangelist Joyce Meyers believes that many have their eyes on the “giants” (fear of rejection, fear of failure, loneliness, stress, struggles) in our life instead of having our eyes on God. We must learn to keep our eyes on the Lord Jesus instead of concentrating all of our focus on what seems to be a major obstacle (i.e. giant). In doing so, we come one step closer to the Promised Land.

The Israelites continued to make excuses not to do things they knew God told them to do. When God has put something on your heart to do and you don’t do it, you are putting yourself in bondage by making excuses not to be obedient. When you are going through the wilderness, don’t complain, have a good attitude, and do not fall into unbelief because if you do, you will never make it to the Promised Land. Don’t wander in the desert for forty years, going around the same mountain, when you could have already made it to your destination in the Promised Land.

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