On the move. After nearly forty years in the wilderness, Israel moves out and heads toward the Promised Land. “Now there was no water for the congregation. And they assembled themselves together against Moses and against Aaron” (20:2). The Lord instructed Moses to speak to the rock and it would give water; rather, in anger, Moses struck the rock. Because Moses, in his disobedience, demeaned God before the people, he was not allowed to enter Canaan. More troubles lay ahead: the king of Edom prohibited them from traversing his lands, the people continued to grumble and serpents came amongst them bringing death though God provided the bronze serpent that brought life. The people continued, along the way defeating their enemies and being delivered from the devious plans of Balak. God intended for Israel to enter the Promised Land, and enter the Promised Land Israel would do (Wait! Have I already typed this, previously?). Here’s the thing, God’s promises would not be thwarted.
After all that God had done, and continued to do, for Israel, Moses writes, “Israel yoked himself to Baal of Peor” (25:3). That is, Israel turned from their God, the one who had helped them all along, and turned to idols. How stubbornly and consistently unfaithful and ungrateful was that generation so that “the Lord had said of them, ‘They shall die in the wilderness.’ Not one of them was left, except Caleb the son of Jephunneh and Joshua the son of Nun” (26:65). Ah, but the two who trusted God and fully followed him! Of the millions, only two proved truly faithful. We don’t want to follow the crowd even when it might be just two of us against millions. Romans 8:31, anyone? “If God is for us, who can be against us?”