As I was reading the Bible this morning my mind and heart were arrested by a line in Deuteronomy 1:2-3. In this passage Moses was getting ready to address the Israelites as they were about to enter into the Promised Land. Here are the introductory comments in the first chapter of Deuteronomy.
"Normally it takes only eleven days to travel from Mount Sinai to Kadesh-barnea, going by way of Mount Seir. But forty years after the Israelites left Egypt, on the first day of the eleventh month, Moses addressed the people of Israel..." (NLT)
Wow. The Israelites spent 40 years on a journey that should have lasted 11 days. That is a tragedy. It wasn't the distance of the journey that delayed their arrival, but rather it was the path that they chose to take.
Along with my reading of Deuteronomy 1 this morning I read Psalm 78. It is a review of the history of the Jewish nation. Psalm 78 reflects upon and remembers the story of the Israelites from the time of their deliverance from slavery in Egypt to their hopeful days in the midst of King David's reign. In Psalm 78 I read that God brought them out of Egypt, led them through the Red Sea, guided them by cloud and by fire, and gave them water to drink and food to eat (which is essentially saying that God gave them life), and yet...they kept on sinning. They complained; they did not trust God. They rebelled against God and they did not remember Him, His ways, nor His presence in their lives.
They spent 40 years on a journey that should have lasted 11 days because of grumbling, selfishness, a lack of trust in God, rebellion, a failure to remember and reflect upon the ways of God in their lives, . . . and sin.
Wow, they spent 40 years on a journey that should have lasted 11 days.
Sin, grumbling, a self-centered attitude, worry (which is a lack of trust in God), rebellion and ingratitude, will lead you down a road that you don't want to travel. It is a way that will strip you of hope and leave you with regret. It is a path that will rob you of precious years—even entire seasons—of your life.
I don't want to wander for 40 years and waste the precious days of my life. I suspect that Moses and the Israelites didn't want to be on the 40-year plan either. But it has been said that,
"Sin will take you further than you want to go. It will keep you longer than you want to stay, and it will cost you more than you want to pay."
They spent 40 years on a journey that should have lasted 11 days!
Most of the folks that started out on the 11-day journey were dead and gone 40 years later. They never made it.
Please note that not everyone missed out on the Promised Land. Joshua made it. May we all heed his words:
"...Choose today whom you will serve,...as for me and my family we will serve the LORD." Joshua 24:15 (NLT)