Moses recounts the path the Israelites took during their wandering and waiting. God was leading them around in circles until the last of the original generation died.
For 38 years God had the people going in circles around Mt. Seir. The people of Esau owned this territory. They were afraid of Israel and didn’t know what they were going to do. I would have been nervous too if a group of people kept circling my home. But God had NO intention of letting Israel harm the people of Esau.
We are told in Numbers 20 that Moses had asked the people of Esau permission to travel in their land. He received an unequivocal “NO” in answer. The Edomites even came out in force to ensure Israel kept their distance. But things changed when Israel was on its way back towards the Promised Land. Israel paid for everything they used as they were passing through. God told Israel to do this as well as told them that this was NOT to become part of their lands.
Moses and the children of Israel faced the same absolute refusal as they encountered in Edom. And like Edom, Moab was also passed through on the way to the Promised Land.
I like seeing that God had other people whom He blessed with territory. Israel wasn’t the first one getting to go occupy a land that was not originally their own. Esau’s descendants and Lot’s descendants also received God’s help in driving out the inhabitants before taking the land as their own. And those that were driven out were the same as the people Israel was afraid of facing. These “giants” were NOT too big for God.
Moses provides us a timeline that I was lacking and wondering about earlier. Moses is speaking to the people at the end of their 40 years. He tells us that the people wandered around Mt. Seir for 38 years before finally returning back to the Promised Land. We know that they spent about nine months at Mt. Saini creating the Tabernacle. I have a question to pose here though. Did God count the 40 years as beginning the day they left Egypt or the day that He removed the promise from them? The time on the way to Saini, temple building time, and travel to the Kadish would have been extra by the second version and could have meant they were in the wilderness for close to 41 years total. Just something I wonder about.
I LOVE hearing Moses tell the people that during their time in the wilderness they “lacked nothing” (verse 7b). God provided for their NEEDS that whole time. That doesn’t mean He provided their every desire and whim. We saw previously that God punished them sometimes for their brooding desires like in the incident with the “quail for a month.” God said He would give them all the quail they wanted for a month but then they became sick immediately after eating it. They certainly didn’t want quail again after that meal! Or at least I wouldn’t have.
God doesn’t promise ANY of us that we will have everything we want at all times. What He does promise is that He will be with us wherever we are. Be it wilderness, valley, mountain top or deepest storm we are NEVER alone! He gives us what we need to walk in each of these places. There is nowhere we can go that we cannot walk through so long as we hold tight to His hand.
Israel faced hard times. They were hot and thirsty. God gave them water and shade. They were hungry and tired. God gave them food and rest. They were lost and wandering. God gave them direction. EVERYTHING they needed God gave them. Too bad that first generation didn’t see that. Maybe that is exactly why Moses is revisiting their journey with this new generation. They need to KNOW that they are STILL in God’s hands. Because of all He has done previously, they can trust Him to do what He has promised.
Father God, thank You for reminding me of all You have walked me through in the past. Even commercials on TV remind me of the miracles You have worked in my life. I KNOW I can trust You with my future because of the lessons of our past. There are SO MANY different instances I could list but I think the biggest one is when You sustained my life when I felt it had no value. YOU held me on Your lap and let me cry. You dried my tears and put my feet back in my shoes to start another day. You gave me a song in my heart again when it had been silent. And You reminded me of the joys in my children’s lives I would miss and the heartache I would cause if I didn’t go on. YOU sustained me.
I have no idea what the future holds for my life but I’m confident that ALL of it is in YOUR hands. You hold my tomorrows as surely as You held my past and present. Thank You Father that I am in Your hands! Because of You I CAN face tomorrow.