u—weren’t meant for the desert #-1
"Moses my servant is dead. Get going. Cross this Jordan River, you and all the people. Cross to the country I'm giving to the People of Israel. I'm giving you every square inch of the land you set your foot on…Strength! Courage! Don't be timid; don't get discouraged. God, your God, is with you every step you take." Joshua 1 (MSG)
I’ve wondered for a looong time—why would any group of people who were promised a great place to live—a promised land choose to live in the complete opposite—a desert?
What I’m a talking about—the Children of Israel’s 40-year trek in the dessert? Some scholars say it took them at least that long just to get past their baggage of bondage. After all they were slaves in Egypt for a looong time. What started as an invitation from Pharaoh of Egypt for Joseph, (their forefather), to lend a hand in tough times—a 7-year famine ended up being a one-way ticket to the labor camps of bondage.
Years go by—years of people begging for God to hear their cries and delivery them from the bondage of slavery. And then, in the fullness of time, their prayers and cries are answered through the voice of God from a burning bush speaking to a fugitive named Moses. Ole tongue-tied Moses isn’t so sure about deliverance ministry at first. But, after some hard persuading and some setbacks too, (more bricks with less straw), Moses finally accepts the assignment of being the deliver of God’s people.
Meanwhile in Egypt, after a few inconveniences in the form of blood, frogs, gnats, flies, dead animals, boils, hail, locusts, darkness, and dead first-born children Pharaoh finally decides that the slaves aren’t worth the trouble and gladly sets them free. That is, until he remembers that he has no one to make his bricks—not a problem except for the fact that his hands were way too soft to make his own bricks. So Pharaoh and his army begin a hot pursuit of his former slaves. The chase scene at this point in the story is something right out of one of today’s amazing cinematic thrillers.
Imagine with me, a million people headed out of Egypt when suddenly, they hear the galloping hooves of horses and see a sand cloud coming toward them. In the middle of their bewilderment, a voice cried out “it’s the Egyptians”, and folks just know that things are going to get a little dicey. So there they are, a million strong trapped like too many of caged mice in the middle of the desert. On their right, a mountain range and on their left more of the same. And just so you get the severity of their situation in front of them as far as their eyes could literally see was the Red Sea. Can you hear the naysayers, ‘a fine deliverer you turned out to be Moses...’ ‘I guess there weren’t enough grave in Egypt so you delivered us out to the desert to die’?
Maybe you know this part of the story. Moses’ rod goes up…the Red Sea parts and the people of God cross over the sea on dry ground. Pharaoh and his army are still in hot pursuit when the Red Sea returns to its normal stage and that’s the last we hear of Pharaoh’s army. Awesome! Right? Ding-dong the witch is dead…the wicked witch…the witch is dead…and all that stuff. Well, yes and no. The Children of Israel are free and everything…but on the other side of the Red Sea is more desert—a whole lot more—and some unanswered questions as well...
2-B-continued – jfhey-ii