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Wise Timers vs Old Timers-The Generation Lost in the Wilderness

The First Generation of Israelites experienced the horror of the Ten Plagues, crossed of the Red Sea on dry land, daily ate Manna from Heaven, and witnessed God’s Glory fall on Mount Sinai and fill the Tabernacle. In the face of all these miracles, they still constantly complained, groaned, and rebelled against God’s Prophet Moses and doubted God’s Power to be able to overtake the obstacles in the Promised Land. Their fearful hearts and lack of Faith prevented them from inheriting their share of God’s Promises.

The Israelites’ obstinacy could be seen from the very beginning, even before the First Plague began. After Moses and Aaron assembled all the elders of the Israelites and Aaron relayed everything that God had said to Moses, and Moses performed the signs God had shown him in the dessert, the people believed (ref. Exodus 4:29-30). But, after asking Pharaoh for the chance to leave for a three day journey to celebrate a feast to God in the Wilderness and Pharaoh took away the Israelite’s rations of straw to build bricks. The Israelite foremen confronted Moses and Aaron charging, “May the Lord look upon you and judge you, for you have made us a stench before Pharaoh and his officials; you have placed in their hands a sword to kill us!” (ref. Exodus 5). Despite knowing God was mighty above all human men and planned to lead the Israelites to freedom, their biggest concerns were with how they were perceived by those who were enslaving them and what these slavers could do to them.

After the Ten Plagues demonstrated God’s awesome power over all Nature and Men, Pharaoh agreed to let the Israelites go, but his pride caused him to change his mind and pursue them (ref. Exodus 14:3-9). When pinned between the encroaching Egyptian military and the banks of the sea, the Israelites sarcastically mocked “Because there were no graves in Egypt, you have taken us away to die in the wilderness? Why have you done this and taken us out of Egypt? Didn’t we tell you in Egypt, Leave us alone, so we can serve the Egyptians? It would have been better that we be slaves than die in the Wilderness,” (Exodus 14:11-12). Even after seeing God’s power during the Plagues in Egypt, they still feared the Egyptians, whose country had just been brought to its knees by the Hand of God.

God caused the Red Sea to part and the Israelites were able to astonishingly cross over on dry land before the walls of water collapsed on the charging chariots. And when Israel saw the great power that the Lord had exercised over the Egyptians, the people feared the Lord and believed in Him and in His servant Moses (ref. Exodus 14:15-29). They sang songs of victory (Moses’ Song of Deliverance & The Song of Miriam) declaring God’s Greatness and Power over Egypt, but after three days wandering in the Desert of Shur without finding water, they came to Marah. The bitter waters were not palatable and the people grumbled against Moses asking “What are we to drink?” failing to remember the God who had control over the waters of the Red Sea they had just crossed. After instructing Moses to cast a nearby log into the bitter waters to sweeten them, the Lord then led them to Elim, where there were twelve springs of water and seventy palm trees, and they camped there by the waters (ref. Exodus 15).

After relishing the oasis at Elim, God led Israel to the Desert of Sin, where they again grumbled against Moses and Aaron, crying out “If only we had died by the Lord’s hand in the land of Egypt! There we sat by pot of meat and ate our fill of bread, but you have brought us into the desert to starve this whole assembly to death!” (ref. Exodus 16:1-3). That evening, God caused quail to cover the camp and the next morning Manna rained down from Heaven to provide them with food in the wilderness (ref. Exodus 16:3-21).

Leaving the Desert of Sin, they were led to Rephidim, but there was no water for the people there, so they contended with Moses, demanding “Give us water to drink!” When Moses asked why they fought with him and test the Lord, they grumbled “Why have you brought us out of Egypt-to make us and our children and livestock die of thirst?” Though God had provided them sweetened water at Marah and Heavenly food, they still quarreled and tested God, asking “Is the Lord amongst us or not?” God yet again provided for them through Moses striking the Rock at Horeb, from which water came for the people to drink (ref. Exodus 17:1-7).

They were then led to Mount Sinai where the Lord’s Presence caused a thick cloud to envelope the mountain, thunder and lightning overwhelmed the sky and the whole mountain shook as the Lord came down in fire (ref. Exodus 19:16-25). When all the people witnessed the thunder and lightning, the sounding of the ram’s horn, and the mountain enveloped in smoke, they trembled and stood at a distance, terrified of God’s Presence (ref. Exodus 20: 18-19) asking that Moses directly talk to God on their behalf. But, when the people saw that Moses was delayed in coming down from the mountain, they gathered around Aaron and demanded that he to make them graven idols to worship.

When they finally reached the border of the Promised Land and sent out scouts to explore the region and gather a report, only two, Joshua and Caleb, gave positive reports, exclaiming “We should go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it.” (ref. Numbers 13:30). But the ten negative accounts overwhelmed the people and they grumbled against Moses and Aaron, wailing “If only we had died in Egypt! Or in this wilderness! Why is the Lord bringing us to this land only to let us fall by the sword? Wouldn’t it be better for us to go back to Egypt? We should choose a leader and go back to Egypt.” And the whole assembly talked about stoning Moses and Aaron (ref. Numbers 14:1-4, 10).

The Lord said to Moses, “How long will these people treat me with contempt? How long will they refuse to believe in Me, in spite of all the signs I have performed among them?” (Numbers 14:11-12). “Not one of them who saw My Glory and the signs I performed in Egypt and in the wilderness but who disobeyed me will see the land I promised on oath to their ancestors. No one who has treated me with contempt will ever see it,” (v. 22-23) “Except Caleb, son of Jephunneh and Joshua, son of Nun,” (v. 30) “because [they have] a different spirit and follow me wholeheartedly” (v.24).

Despite experiencing hundreds of years of slavery while in captivity under Egypt, the Israelites kept choosing servitude over the freedom and prosperity God was trying to provide to His People. Even more so, they saw the wonders in Egypt, the Miracles in the Wilderness, and Experienced His Glory first hand and still they doubted Him and His Power. The generation was stiff-necked and hard-hearted and constantly challenged Moses whenever they came across worldly issues and failed to recognize that God had provided for them throughout their journey and would be with them as they conquered the Promised Land.

That first generation wandered through the wilderness following the Pillar of Fire by night and Cloud by day, but they never truly followed God. They never fully trusted in Him nor those He spoke through. They rebelled against Him and complained and threw tantrums like children. They were older, but lacked the Wisdom to be like Caleb and Joshua who followed Him wholeheartedly, but because they followed their own sense of direction, rather than God’s, they were lost in the Wilderness.

Prepared by, Kent Simpson, Apostolic Prophet & Eric Sepulveda, PMT Administrator

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