Can it take 40 years to complete an 11-day journey? It will when any people refuses to trust God. The result is that forward movement towards spiritual maturity gives way to a wandering, aimless existence.
“It is eleven days’ journey from Horeb by way of Mount Seir to Kadesh Barnea. Now it came to pass in the fortieth year, in the eleventh month, on the first day of the month, that Moses spoke to the children of Israel…” ~ Deuteronomy 1:2-3
Deuteronomy is the account of Moses restating the law of God before Israel entered the Promised Land. But he is not speaking to the generation set free from Egypt. That entire generation faded in a 40-year journey to nowhere when they failed to trust God, shying away from entering the Promised Land (Numbers 13-14). God took care of them in the wilderness. They were still His people. But they lost everything associated with the promises of God… and those losses were real.
So in Deuteronomy, Moses is addressing a new generation. The children of those who refused to trust God. And as a cautionary admonition, he mentions that where they are standing is only an 11-day journey from the spot where their parents began their journey to the Promised Land — 40 years ago.
And just like that generation in the wilderness, any generation that consistently rejects a life of active faith — trusting God as He leads, step by step — is losing the life God intended for them… a life of wonder at the mighty acts of a living God.
It’s not a loss of personal salvation. He is a promise-keeping God. The soul that hears the message of the cross and responds by placing his/her trust in Jesus is completely forgiven and their sins are carried away (John 3:16, 1 Peter 2:24, 1 Cor. 1:18). He sends His Spirit to indwell the new believer. And He is there to transform that soul into the likeness of Jesus, guiding him/her into a life of trusting His rule and offering simple devotion to Him.
But if we go on from there to a daily life of unbelief, the losses will come. If He calls you to take a step of faith, and you refuse, you lose whatever He was about to accomplish with that step.
He already has a plan for your life. It is a plan to be lived out one faith step at a time. It involves…
- daily fellowship,
- knowing and enjoying Him,
- recognizing when He is speaking,
- a joyful obedience to what He says, and
- a continual repentance, a daily turning from doing life without Him and setting the heart on doing life with Him.
There are many times when we have to wait (by faith) on God’s timing. But how many other promises is He prepared to give sooner than later? In 11 days instead of 40 years? Only those who walk with Him by faith will know the answer to that.
“Oh come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the LORD our Maker. For He is our God, and we are the people of His pasture, and the sheep of His hand. Today, if you will hear His voice: do not harden your hearts, as in the rebellion, as in the day of trial in the wilderness, when your fathers tested Me; they tried Me, though they saw My work. For forty years I was grieved with that generation, and said, ‘It is a people who go astray in their hearts, and they do not know My ways.’“ ~ Psalm 95:6-10