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Immerse: Beginnings, Week 13

Wilderness Wanderings 

As we come to the end of the book of Numbers, there are so many stories and topics we could potentially focus on. The Israelites are nearing the Promised Land (again), and the generation who experienced the Egyptian plagues and the parting of the Red Sea have all passed away. In fact, “Not one of them survived except Caleb son of Jephunneh and Joshua son of Nun” (Immerse: Beginnings, page 253).

Throughout our reading, we see “Give the following instructions…” repeated 33 times in Leviticus and Numbers. We see God took the time and energy to teach the Israelites how to live in community. He didn’t hand the Promised Land to them without first giving them some guidelines about everything from skin rashes to manslaughter. Hopefully, as you’ve been reading through all the details you haven’t gotten bogged down by it because I believe there is a really important lesson for us to learn.
In Numbers 33 (page 263-265), we see a long list of locations the Israelites camped in the wilderness. As we know, they definitely didn’t take the most direct route into the Promised Land. In fact, if you google “map of Israelites in the wilderness,” you can see several possibilities for their route and the stops along the way. If we didn’t know God was leading them with a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night, we’d think they were wandering aimlessly.

But we know better. We know God was the one leading them, and we know He was teaching them all along the way. The wilderness wasn’t just a time of aimless wandering, but of intentional learning.

We all go through seasons of life which can feel like wandering in the wilderness. But even in the wilderness, God is leading. Are you learning? Are you listening? If you’re anything like me, you want to escape the discomfort and unpredictability of the wilderness ASAP, but there are some lessons we can only learn in the wilderness. Lean in. Listen. Learn. Remember God’s promises and plans and make the most of your wilderness wanderings.

Angela Hastings