So many people ask why it took forty years for the Israelites to get from Egypt to the Promised Land. Some do it to try and trip up believers. The first thing is to understand that many things occurred that extended the travel time which are seen in Exodus, Leviticus, and Numbers. During this time lessons were learned, laws and precepts were given, feast days were established, and the tent of meeting and the Tabernacle were built. There were also battles which meant preparation and recovery times as well as the length of the battles or skirmishes. This leads one to understand that 1 to 3 years of travel time is hardly enough. Also consider they used the lunar calendar which shortens the year.
The Book of Numbers gives a clue on the movement of the Hebrews as they travel:
On the day that the tabernacle was set up, the cloud covered the tabernacle, the tent of the testimony. And at evening it was over the tabernacle like the appearance of fire until morning. So it was always: the cloud covered it by day and the appearance of fire by night. And whenever the cloud lifted from over the tent, after that the people of Israel set out, and in the place where the cloud settled down, there the people of Israel camped. At the command of the Lord the people of Israel set out, and at the command of the Lord they camped. As long as the cloud rested over the tabernacle, they remained in camp. Even when the cloud continued over the tabernacle many days, the people of Israel kept the charge of the Lord and did not set out. Sometimes the cloud was a few days over the tabernacle, and according to the command of the Lord they remained in camp; then according to the command of the Lord they set out. And sometimes the cloud remained from evening until morning. And when the cloud lifted in the morning, they set out, or if it continued for a day and a night, when the cloud lifted they set out. Whether it was two days, or a month, or a longer time that the cloud continued over the tabernacle abiding there, the people of Israel remained in camp and did not set out, but when it lifted they set out. At the command of the Lord they camped, and at the command of the Lord they set out. They kept the charge of the Lord, at the command of the Lord by Moses. Numbers 9:15-23
It wasn’t till later that God actually put them on their forty year desert travel in circles, so close to the land yet so far. But God had to make sure the people were right and ready to be His Chosen and accomplish their part in His plan.
There is Something about 40
The number forty is very significant. Many testing, trials or probation periods, and changes, happened in each mention of forty be it days, nights, months, or years. The number forty is in the Bible well over 140 times and each time there is significant spiritual growth. The rains fell for forty days and forty nights, Moses was on the mountain with God for forty days, Jonah spent forty days ministering to Nineveh, Elijah fasted for forty days, Jesus was tempted for forty and also stayed teaching after the resurrection for forty days. David ruled for forty years. The number forty has much to do with learning.
When the Hebrews began their forty in the desert, God kept only Joshua, Caleb, and Aaron’s son Eleazar alive to enter the Promised Land from the time before the wandering. God had sentenced all men who were twenty years of older before the wandering to death so that a new generation would learn to trust in God for all their needs. Yes they grumbled and complained but in the end they knew God and trusted His care. It took this period of time to establish the moral and ethical codes that went right along with the Commandments and to get them to understand God’s Love.
We know from reading that humans do not always adhere to rules, regulations, covenants and promises because the Israelites really messed things up for themselves and blended with other cultures which corrupted our part of the covenant. But God’s Love and Compassion for His People is stronger than any human emotion or action.
40 Days of Lent
The Lenten season itself is not found in Scripture but the idea of forty days of testing and trials is. This is the season for us to repent, refresh, and renew while we give up things of this world to attain a better, Spiritual understanding and relationship with God. We should not return to that which we gave up or the Adversary has won.
Brothers and Sisters, keep watch and be vigilant. Share the Gospel as often as possible and be that light as we are commissioned to be. Are we in our forty years of testing? Maybe we are at an end and we lost or maybe this is just the beginning. Either way, the Adversary is coming soon to take control. Keep His Word on your heart and do not be influenced by the New Church as so many unfortunately are. God’s Word does not change, Jesus teachings have not changed. So why are we changing them to gain the world? Pay attention to your heart and God’s Love will carry you through.
Blessings, Rob Servant of God