Manage episode 318938362 series 2872890
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At first glance, Numbers 33 seems like a confusing list of meaningless facts. “Pi-hahiroth, Baal-zephon, Alush, Rephidim…” Why would God include so many cities and place names that are difficult to pronounce? What is the point? If we look more closely, we will understand the importance of these facts. If we were familiar with the geography of Israel, we would reflexively understand that the Israelites were going in circles. It was as if they were detouring from Florida to New York and back to Florida. Because of their disobedience, the Israelites were experiencing God’s discipline. To readers familiar with the geography of Israel, this detailed record of cities and place names would clearly demonstrate that the Israelites were wandering in mind-numbing circles. Rather than being a pointless list of names, this passage serves as a warning to future generations. There is a high price to not believing in God and rebelling against Him. We must draw lessons from what happened to the Israelites. We must obey God and have faith in Him, so that we can avoid God’s discipline. Wandering in the wilderness Verse 1 says, “These are the stages of the people of Israel, when they went out of the land of Egypt by their companies under the leadership of Moses and Aaron.” In verses two through forty-five, forty-two different stations are recorded. Under normal circumstances, it takes only 11 days to travel from Egypt to the Promised Land. But it took the Israelites 40 years. When the faithless spies gave a bad report to the Israelites, they became fearful and refused to go into the promised land. In response, God disciplined them. He told them they would wander in the wilderness for forty years. He said, “According to the number of the days in which you spied out the land, forty days, a year for each day, you shall bear your iniquity forty years, and you shall know my displeasure.” (Numbers 14:34).