The people had been wandering for a generation. Actually, they felt like they were wandering. They were actually following a pillar of fire and a cloud, both showing the presence of God.
But it felt like wandering. It felt like killing time. It felt like waiting for a generation to die off. Which was, of course, what was happening. The children of Israel were waiting until the generation of people who had been adults when they left Egypt to all die so that they could go into the promised land.
I wonder, as I write this, how many people knew that. How many people understood that when mom and dad were gone, when Aaron and Moses finally died, when Aunt Miriam, who had great genes finally died, the people would get their inheritance. And were they tempted to say, “Let’s help them along and we can all get to the milk and honey”?
Or had they actually learned that God valued life and lives? And had they internalized a little that having no other gods meant not being god themselves? Had they internalized loving God with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength and loving their neighbor? Even if they didn’t know when they would get out of their tents and away from the daily manna?
One day, after Moses died, and Joshua seemed to be taking leadership, they moved. Toward the spring-flooded Jordan River. And stopped. Because they had to stop. There was no way across the river. They waited for three days for news. And then the word came.
“Get ready to move in the morning. Watch the ark of the covenant. Stay half-a-mile back. Don’t go near it, so that you can see the way to go, for you haven’t traveled this way before.”
We’re looping through space we haven’t been in before, not sure who to trust. Taking a deep breath and looking for where God is working, and has been working, and going there will be a good thing to consider.