"THE WILDERNESS WANDERINGS!: GOD'S JUDGMENTS & MERCIES!"
PTL! WE'RE GOING TO HAVE OUR BIBLE STUDY IN PICTURES NOW: We are going to continue our journey with Moses & the children of Israel through the wilderness. In our last lesson, Moses received the Law from the Lord on the top of Mount Sinai, & we took a hike up Mount Sinai & saw the scenes & sights up there & the Monastery of St. Catherine, where some of the Word of God has been preserved for nearly a thousand years! Now we are leaving Mount Sinai & proceeding on the journey through the wilderness.
THE TABERNACLE, the outer court & the altar. Here's the Great Laver. Here is the first veil into the Holy Place. In the first part, called the Holy Place, was the famous 7–branch candlestick & the table of shewbread. In the very back‚ where we see the column of cloud, was the Holy of Holies, separated from the Holy Place by a think curtain. In the Holy of Holies was placed the Ark of the Covenant.
THE ARK WAS A BOX THAT HELD THE 10 COMMANDMENTS‚ AARON'S ROD, WHICH BUDDED‚ & SOME MANNA. Only the High Priest was allowed to go into the Holy of Holies once a year, with the blood sacrifice for the sins of the people. This was the big tent that the Children of Israel carried around with them for over 40 years‚ & worshipped in for about 400 years of the Judges. When the Temple was later built by Solomon, the Tabernacle was no longer needed—they worshipped in the Temple after that.
2. HERE'S A MAP SHOWING THE WILDERNESS JOURNEY. Israel seemed to have no choice in their direction. The Cloud, which was directed by God, seemed to have moved & the bearers of the Tabernacle followed it, & the people also followed.
THEY SIMPLY FOLLOWED GOD WHEREVER HE LED‚ they were afraid to be anywhere else! Although they didn't seem to have much faith & trust Him very much like they should have, they followed God & the Cloud. They complained about His protection, His supply & His provision, but they were afraid not to be in His care—just like children fuss at their parents & they complain, but they would be afraid to be out on their own & alone!
NOW WE'RE TRAVELLING FROM MOUNT SINAI, ON THE SOUTH HERE, TO PARAN. Paran was not a town‚ but a tract of country a few miles northeast of Sinai. Israel seemed to have been camped at the foot of Sinai for 40 days less than 1 year.
THE COUNTRY THROUGH WHICH THEY PASSED WAS VERY ROUGH, & while they possibly crossed some valleys, none of them were large enough for the camp—estimated from 3 to 6 million people. They travelled for days before a place could be found to accommodate the whole nation of Israel—the greatest mass migration ever known in all world history!
3. HOBAB, THE SON OF JETHRO & BROTHER-IN-LAW OF MOSES, ACCOMPANIED THEM to this first stopping place as a guide. But it was not until Moses had urged him & offered him a share in the blessings of Israel, that he was persuaded to go along with them. Who would have wanted the responsibility of guiding so many millions of people through a desert?
4. THEY MOVED ONWARD FROM PARAN, which you see here, northward to Taberah. They had not gone far until Israel began to complain‚ & the anger of the Lord was kindled! The fire of the Lord burned among & consumed them that were in the uttermost parts of the camp—because of this incident, they called the name of the place Taberah, meaning a burning.
IT'S A VERY SERIOUS OFFENCE TO MURMUR AGAINST GOD, to complain against God & God's leaders! In this case God sent a fire through the camp that actually burned up some of the worst complainers & murmurers!
5. HERE WE SEE THE WILDERNESS OF PARAN. The multitude again began to murmur & complain: They didn't like the manna upon which they fed. Here God was feeding mankind angels' food right from Heaven, & yet they griped & grumbled about it! We used to sing a little song: "There'll be no grumblers there, in my Father's House, in my Father's House, in my Father's House. Yes, there'll be no grumblers there‚ in my Father's House, only joy‚ joy‚ joy!"
THE LORD DOESN'T LIKE GRUMBLING & complaining & murmuring about the nice blessings that He gives us! They asked now for more meat, & they were displeased in many ways. It seemed to have been a very trying situation for Moses; but when the Lord promised them quail‚ Moses was encouraged.
6. HERE WE'RE AT KIBROTH-HAT-TAAVAH—THE INTERPRETATION OF THAT MEANS THE GRAVES OF LUST. It has been just about 1 year since the people had gathered quails before. According to the promise of the Lord, again He sent them quails. The quail were brought over from the sea as by a wind, & they covered the camp of Israel in great heaps—2 cubits deep, 3 feet deep!
THE PEOPLE ATE OF THEM FOR 30 DAYS, UNTIL THOUSANDS DIED FROM OVEREATING! They got their desire, didn't they? As God's Word says‚ "He sent them the desire of their heart, but leanness to their souls!"—And sickness to their bodies! (Ps.106:15.) A lot of people nowadays gripe about the food, & then when they get something, they eat too much & get sick.
7. THEY CALLED THE NAME OF THE PLACE KIBROTH-HATTAAVAH. This was probably not far from the eastern gulf, & was near to Taberah. They journeyed over to Hazeroth, eastward toward the Gulf of Aqaba.
HERE MIRIAM & AARON CHALLENGED MOSES' AUTHORITY, & said, "Oh, you're not the only prophet around here, we're prophets too! Hath not God also spoken by us? " Numbers the 12th chapter.
8. HERE WE HAVE A PHOTO OF THE LAND OF HAZEROTH. This challenge of authority & rebellion of Miriam, Moses' sister, & Aaron was a very trying thing for poor old Moses—now in his 80's & having enough problems without his own family fighting him! As God's Word says, "A prophet is not without honour, save in his own country, & amongst his own kindred." (Mt.13:57 & Mark 6:4.)
GOD HAD TO CURSE MIRIAM FOR HER REBELLION: She became a leper & white as snow. But seeing this, Moses cried again to the Lord & asked, "Heal her now‚ O Lord, I beseech Thee." Some brothers & sisters might say, "Well‚ that just serves you right!: Be a leper for the rest of your life & die of leprosy!" Is that what Moses did? No!
HE PRAYED & ASKED GOD TO HEAL IT. That was real brotherly love, wasn't it! He was certainly merciful & forgiving. Are you always that way with your brother? Moses prayed & she was healed of her leprosy, but she was compelled to stay out of the camp for 7 days. That was quite a disgrace!
9. WE HAVE BEEN AT HAZEROTH. The next move northward is to the end of the Wilderness of Paran. The journey must have taken several days—since this move took them all the way to Kadesh Barnea, practically on the border of Israel. The border was toward the southern end of the Dead Sea, This is the land of Israel from here on northward—most of it is off the map. They were so near & yet so far!
10. THE PLAIN OF KADESH BARNEA is nothing but desert today. They were approaching the land flowing with milk & honey‚ Israel or Canaan land. Some good authorities place kadesh Barnea about 5—miles south of Beersheba. It's a land suitable for grazing only. It is subject to severe drought, but springs of water are found throughout the entire district. On a plain like this, Israel was encamped for a long time.
11. THIS IS A PHOTO OF THE LAND AROUND HEBRON, in Canaan. The first important event that occurred in Kadesh Barnea was sending the 12 spies into the land of Canaan. They were right on the border, just ready to step into the land flowing with milk & honey. But they were a little bit worried about who lived there & what the conditions were.
SO THEY BEGAN TO LOOK AT THE CONDITIONS, INSTEAD OF JUST TRUSTING GOD & thanking God by faith & believing that He was going to be with them every step of the way, & just marching right on in & taking the land like they should've! They said, "Let's just wait now, we're not quite sure whether God's going to carry us through." So they sent in the 12 spies, one from each tribe, to bring a report regarding their being able to occupy the land of Canaan.
GOD HAD ALREADY PROMISED THAT THEY COULD OCCUPY IT! He said, "I will go with you & give you every foot of ground that you put your foot upon. All things are possible to God! With man it is impossible, but nothing is impossible with God. And all things are possible to him that believeth!" But they just wouldn't believe it! See, they doubted every step of the way: They doubted if God was going to give it to them‚ doubted if God would go with them‚ doubted if they could conquer the land! And now they are sending in spies to test it out.
THEY WERE DOUBTING GOD'S WORD & THAT'S A HEINOUS SIN‚ to doubt God's Word!—And they really suffered for it! It's not certain how far up into Canaan these spies went, but it's reported that they went at least as far as Hebron, which is within 20 miles of Jerusalem. Here at Hebron, in the head of a little rivulet called the Valley of Eschol, they became satisfied because the soil was productive. But there were giants in the land & they were fearful that Israel, unskilled in battle, would not be able to subdue the land.
12. THEY'D BROUGHT BACK A GREAT BIG HUGE BUNCH OF GRAPES that was almost as big as a man—as a sample to show them how wonderful & productive the land was. They'd spied out the land for 40 days. When they reached the camp, they gave their opinion that it would be impossible to take the country.
ONLY CALEB & JOSHUA BELIEVED THAT THEY COULD GO IN & CONQUER THE LAND, & trusted God. The rest of the spies doubted God & persuaded the people to doubt God!
13. HERE AT KADESH BARNEA, in contrast with the fruitfulness which the spies had just seen in Canaan, they were shown the desolate wilderness country.
GOD SENT A MESSAGE TO THEM THROUGH MOSES: THAT FOR THIS LACK OF FAITH, ISRAEL WOULD BE KEPT IN THIS WILDERNESS FOR 40 YEARS, until all of that whole generation, then living, would die—except for their children under 20 years of age! God wasn't going to hold the children responsible for the sins of their parents, in this case.
ONLY THEIR CHILDREN WOULD REACH THE PROMISED LAND & TAKE POSSESSION OF IT! The only 2 of the older generation that God allowed to go into the Land were Joshua & Caleb—the 2 spies that brought back the favourable report.
GOD WAS VERY ANGRY! He said, "Your bones are going to bleach out here in the same desert that you want to stay in‚ rather than go into the Land!" He says, "Alright, you prefer the desert‚ you can stay here & die!" That's the way God will do with us, beloved, if we doubt God! If God says, "Go in & take the land, do the job I've asked you to do, & I'll be with you." If we say, "But Lord, I can't do it, I'm afraid!" God may get angry with you!
IF YOU TURN BACK, LIKE THE CHILDREN OF ISRAEL DID, He'll say‚ "Alright, die out here in this old world, in the misery of wilderness & the world!"—Away from God & out of His will! So, they turned back here at Kadesh Barnea‚ a very sad sad occasion, & they had nothing but trouble from here on!
14. A LITTLE LATER, KORAH, LEADER OF THE TRIBE OF LEVI, BECAME JEALOUS of the honours bestowed upon Moses. He instituted a rebellion against him, hoping to usurp Moses' position & become the leader himself. There are always people like that around:
SOME PEOPLE ALWAYS WANT TO BE LEADERS, but it's seldom the ones that God has chosen! The leaders that God has chosen usually don't want to be leaders—they were forced into it by the Lord! You can't find a case in the entire Bible where any leader wanted to be the leader, or any prophet wanted to be a prophet. They all shied away from it & shunned it. But there's always people around who want to be the leader: "Oh, if I could just lead these people‚ I would do it right!" Those people always seem to be able to persuade people to believe & follow them.
THEY ALWAYS LAND IN TROUBLE AS A RESULT! That's what happened to Korah, Dathan & Abiram, & all the people that followed them: God struck them with sudden judgment! An earthquake shook the earth & opened up the ground, & swallowed the whole camp of Korah & a good many of the Levites. Some were swallowed by an earthquake, & 250 were consumed by fire—a very great plague!
15. THIS INCIDENT INCENSED THOSE WHO HAD TAKEN SIDES WITH KORAH, & they murmured against Moses again, saying‚ "You've killed the people of the Lord!" But Moses had nothing to do with it, God did it! One rotten apple in the barrel will soon get all the apples rotten, if you don't get rid of it!
SO‚ GOD HAD TO GET RID OF THESE ROTTEN APPLES IN HIS BARREL OF THE CHILDREN OF ISRAEL! There were some people left‚ who were still rebellious in their hearts, & suddenly a plague came upon the entire congregation of the Lord. Before Moses could bring his intercession to pass, 14,700 of them died! Whew! Boy, God sure knows how to weed them out, doesn't He! You'll find it in Numbers 16.
16. THESE INCIDENTS MUST HAVE UNSETTLED THE PEOPLE, & to prove to them that Aaron was God's choice, a miracle was performed‚ causing Aaron's rod to bud. He was the High Priest. He had a walking staff, a straight cane, called a rod, as many of them carried in those days, kind of a symbol of their authority. It had been cut from a branch, a regular old dead stick.
GOD CAUSED A MIRACLE TO HAPPEN: Suddenly it came to life & budded & blossomed! That was really a miracle, wasn't it? All the elders of the tribes of Israel brought their own rods, & Moses said, "Now whichever one blossoms & buds‚ we'll know that is God's choice." Aaron's was the only one that blossomed & bud! This seemed to have convinced them then that Moses & Aaron were the right leaders, & conditions immediately began to improve.
17. THIS IS KADESH BARNEA. Miriam, who had been with her mother when her brother Moses was hidden among the flags of the Nile, who had sung at the crossing of the Red Sea, & had become leprous at Hazeroth‚ now died & was buried at Kadesh Barnea, Numbers 20.
18. ISRAEL DID NOT REMAIN AT KADESH. They were just ready to enter into the Promised Land, when they doubted God, & God said‚ "No! You're not going to go in now because of your lack of faith!" So now they're back-sliding!: Going southward, back into the Wilderness of Zin‚ & on their way back to Elath & the Gulf of Aqaba.
19. THERE WAS NO WATER IN THIS WILDERNESS & THE PEOPLE BEGAN TO MURMUR AGAIN. God directed Moses through the use of his rod, for the second time, to bring forth water out of the rock, whereby they might quench their thirst. Numbers 20.
20. SO MOSES & AARON GATHERED THE CONGREGATION TOGETHER BEFORE THE ROCK, & said to them, "Hear now, ye rebels‚ must we fetch you water out of the rock? " They struck the rock twice & water came out in abundance, & the place was called Meribah. God considered that it was not right for Moses to get angry the way he did, & to say, "we fetch you water"—because it was God that really did it! Also‚ he struck the rock twice & he was only told to strike it once—so these things displeased God.
HE STRUCK THE ROCK IN THE ENERGY OF THE FLESH, INSTEAD OF BY THE SPIRIT OF GOD! He was trying to do the Work of God in the power of the flesh, instead of the power of the Spirit! So the Lord said‚ "Moses, for that you are not going to be able to go into the Land—because you disobeyed Me!"
21. THE FOOTHILLS OF MOUNT HOR.
22. WE ARE NOT INFORMED HOW LONG ISRAEL REMAINED AT KADESH. The cross now around the southern end of the Dead Sea, as far as Mount Hor. They ask permission to pass through Edom. The Edomites were descendants of Esau. Edom meant red, & Esau was red-headed & very hairy—so his descendants were called Edomites, meaning the Red People.
EDOM WAS WHERE THE GREAT ROCK CITY PETRA, THE CAPITAL, WAS LOCATED. The answer from Edom was that if they did so, they would have to advance against his sword. What does that mean? They'd have to fight. He said, "Over my dead body, you're going to pass thru' my land. You'll have to pass my sword!" Upon receiving this adverse answer, they turned to the south, determined to compass the land of Edom—to go clear round it.
23. SO THEY PITCHED THEIR CAMP TO THE WEST, at the foot of Mount Hor.
24. HERE THE LORD DIRECTED MOSES TO TAKE AARON INTO THE MOUNTAIN. These are actual photographs of the very places where these things happened. The High Priest was to die, because he had rebelled against the Word of the Lord, at the water of Meribah. For that reason‚ he wasn't permitted to enter into the Land of Promise. The same is true of you & me, beloved: If we don't obey the Lord & follow Him & try to please Him & keep His commandments, the Lord will not bless us either!
25. SO ON MOUNT HOR, WE SEE THE TOMB OF AARON. Moses, Aaron & Eleazar went up into Mount Hor, & Aaron died & was buried here. Since then this has been called the Hill of Aaron. This Mohammedan mosque has been erected to his memory.
26. HERE'S A VIEW LOOKING DOWN THE VALLEY FROM THE TOP OF MOUNT HOR. You can see it's quite a lofty mountain, & up here was where Aaron died. He'd done a good job & finished his work for the Lord, He goofed a few times, but who hasn't? Moses stripped Aaron of his garments & put them on Eleazar his son. Moses & Eleazar came down from the mount, & when all the congregation saw that Aaron was dead, they mourned for him 30 days, even all the House of Israel.
27. WHEN THE KING OF ARAD heard that the 12 strangers, which had passed through his country recently, were Israelite spies, his armies came down from Arad to Mount Hor & attacked Moses. Finally he was repulsed & a very great slaughter followed. The Lord was with them & helped the Israelites to win this first battle they'd had with the Canaanites.
28. 4 HERE'S THE ARABAH. Moses now starts over the very rough country to the Gulf of Aqaba. The people, footsore & weary, complained most violently, & plagues in the form of fiery serpents with a poisonous sting attacked them. Many people died because of their murmuring & complaint! God sent these serpents to punish them‚ but God always tempered His justice with mercy.
29. THE MEEK & THE PATIENT MOSES INTERCEDED FOR ISRAEL AGAIN! The Bible says, "Moses made a serpent of brass, & he put it upon a pole." See it there? "And it came to pass, that if a serpent had bitten any man, when he beheld the serpent of brass‚ he lived." We sing an old song:
LOOK TO THE LAMB OF GOD, Look to the Lamb of God, He alone is able to save you, Look to the Lamb of God." Well, this wasn't a lamb, but it was a serpent, & a type of the coming Lamp of God. (Faithy: What about the commandment: "Thou shalt not make any graven image"?)
GOD CAN MAKE EXCEPTIONS TO HIS OWN COMMANDMENTS if He wants to, can't He! When He tells somebody to break one of them, that's okay. They also carved cherubims above the Ark of the Covenant. If God hadn't told them to do it, they would have been breaking the commandment. When they looked at this serpent of brass, they were healed. So, God was merciful to them. (Jn.3:14–16.) This is still used as a symbol of doctors.
30. THEY FINALLY COME BACK DOWN TO THE GULF OF AQABA, the eastern neck of the Red Sea, & here we see the sunset on that beautiful gulf‚ in the vicinity of the port of Elath. There was a little village there even in that day. Today it is a great Israeli port, at the foot of what's called the Negev, the Wilderness of Sinai.
31. HERE IS A SHIP in that great port of Elath.
Review Questions for Chapter 12.
1. How was Israel guided in the desert?
2. How long did they stay at Sinai?
3. Where did they go from Sinai?
4. What direction did they go from Sinai?
5. Is Paran a city?
6. What son of Jethro went with them?
7. Why did Hobah go?
8. What happened at Taberah?
9. What did the people complain about?
10. Did they get meat?
11. How did they get it?
12. How much did they eat?
13. What was the name of this place?
14. Where did they camp next?
15. What happened at Hazeroth?
16. What happened to Miriam?
17. Was she healed of leprosy?
18. What relation was Moses to Aaron & Miriam?
19. Where did Israel move to next?
20. Did they remain there long?
21. Who were sent out from there?
22. What country did they visit?
23. What did they bring back to the camp?
24. What was the spies' report?
25. Were they correct?
26. How long must they remain in the wilderness?
27. Who rebelled at this time?
28. What happened to Korah?
29. What happened to his followers?
30. Why did Aaron's rod bud?
31. What woman died at Kadesh?
32. To what wilderness did they then move?
33. What did the people do?
34. How did they get water?
35. What was the rock called?
36. Near what mountain did they next camp?
37. Who died in Mount Hor?
39. Who succeeded Aaron as priest?
40. Why were fiery serpents sent?
41. What was the cure?