SHORT BIBLE STUDY: Why did the children of Israel wander in the wilderness for 40 years?

Why did the children of Israel wander in the wilderness for 40 years? The Old Testament book of Numbers chapters 13 and 14 chapters contain the account of Moses, who after having led the people of Israel out of the slavery of Egypt, has now led them to the edge of the promised land. Moses appoints a leader from each of the 12 tribes of Israel to form a group that will go into the promised land and bring back a report on the opportunities and the challenges that are before the people of Israel. The spies spend 40 days in the wilderness as they bring back the report to Israel. The report of the 12 spies was the same, the promised land flowing with milk and honey and there were giants. 10 of the spies, as they interpreted this report the people of Israel, stated that the challenge was too great, that they seem like insects to the giants. Two of the spies, Joshua and Caleb, reported that the people of Israel were able to overcome the challenges that were before them through the faithfulness of God. The people of Israel then had to choose which interpretation of the report they would believe. They chose the report of the 10 to the point that they told Moses they would rather go back to the known slavery of Egypt than to face the unknown challenges in the promised land. As a result, God declared that the people of Israel, this current generation, would spend 40 years wandering in the wilderness, one year for each day that the spy spent in the promised land. And when the current generation died off, then a new generation would be entering into the promised land under the leadership of Joshua.

The question before us today is what determines our response to the unknown challenges that are before us? Do we wish to live in the known realities of the past or in the unknown promises of the future? As you choose, May God bless you as God’s word becomes a lamp unto your feet.