1. A DELAYED ENTRANCE INTO THE PROMISED LAND
a. How long did the children of Israel wander in the wilderness before they came again to Kadesh and crossed the Brook Zered? Deuteronomy 2:14. Why did it take so long?
“God gave positive evidence that He rules in the heavens, and rebellion was punished with death. Only two of those who as adults left Egypt, saw the promised land. The wanderings of the people were extended until the rest were buried in the wilderness.”—The SDA Bible Commentary [E. G. White Comments], vol. 1, p. 1113.
“Had Israel obeyed the directions given them by Moses, not one of those who started on the journey from Egypt would in the wilderness have fallen a prey to disease or death. They were under a safe Guide. Christ had pledged Himself to lead them safely to the promised land if they would follow His guidance. This vast multitude, numbering more than a million people, was under His direct rule. They were His family. In every one of them He was interested.”—Ibid., p.1118.
2. GOD PROVIDES AND INSTRUCTS
a. What evidences do we have of God’s care for His people during their time of wandering in the wilderness? Nehemiah 9:19–21; Psalm 105:37.
b. How was the wilderness wandering a discipline for the rising generation? Deuteronomy 8:2, 3.
“God permitted these lonely travels through the wilderness that His people might obtain an experience in enduring hardship, and that when they were in peril they might know that there was relief and deliverance in God alone. Thus they might learn to know and to trust God, and to serve Him with a living faith.”—Counsels to Parents, Teachers, and Students, p. 409.
“As the people journeyed through the wilderness, many precious lessons were fixed in their minds by means of song. . . . The commandments as given from Sinai, with promises of God’s favor and records of His wonderful works for their deliverance, were by divine direction expressed in song, and were chanted to the sound of instrumental music, the people keeping step as their voices united in praise.
“Thus their thoughts were uplifted from the trials and difficulties of the way, the restless, turbulent spirit was soothed and calmed, the principles of truth were implanted in the memory, and faith was strengthened.”—Education, p. 39.
c. What was the main reason why many of the Israelites were unable to enter the Promised Land? How can we avoid falling into the same sin? Hebrews 3:7–14.
“It was not the will of God that Israel should wander forty years in the wilderness. . . . In like manner, it was not the will of God that the coming of Christ should be so long delayed and His people should remain so many years in this world of sin and sorrow. But unbelief separated them from God. As they refused to do the work which He had appointed them, others were raised up to proclaim the message. In mercy to the world, Jesus delays His coming, that sinners may have an opportunity to hear the warning and find in Him a shelter before the wrath of God shall be poured out.”—The Great Controversy, p. 458.
3. THE INFLUENCE OF THE UNCONVERTED
a. What class of people often proved to be troublemakers? Numbers 11:4.
“The mixed multitude that came up with the Israelites from Egypt were a source of continual temptation and trouble. They professed to have renounced idolatry and to worship the true God; but their early education and training had molded their habits and character, and they were more or less corrupted with idolatry and with irreverence for God. They were oftenest the ones to stir up strife and were the first to complain, and they leavened the camp with their idolatrous practices and their murmurings against God.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 408.
b. What was God’s command with regard to uniting with unbelievers? Deuteronomy 7:3, 4; 2 Corinthians 6:14. What about today?
“[The Israelites] were warned not to have any connection with idolaters, not to intermarry with them, nor in any way put themselves in danger of being affected and corrupted by their abominations. They were counseled to shun the very appearance of evil, not to dabble around the borders of sin, for this was the surest way to be engulfed in sin and ruin.”—The SDA Bible Commentary [E. G. White Comments], vol. 2, p. 1000.
“God strictly forbade the intermarrying of His ancient people with other nations. . . . But the heathen were in a more favorable condition than are the impenitent in this age, who, having the light of truth, yet persistently refuse to accept it.”—Testimonies, vol. 4, p. 508.
c. What is always the result of being closely associated with the unconverted? 1 Corinthians 15:33, 34.
“It is wrong for Christians to associate with those whose morals are loose. An intimate, daily intercourse which occupies time without contributing in any degree to the strength of the intellect or morals is dangerous. If the moral atmosphere surrounding persons is not pure and sanctified, but is tainted with corruption, those who breathe this atmosphere will find that it operates almost insensibly upon the intellect and heart to poison and to ruin.”—Ibid., vol.3, p. 125.
4. CONTEMPT FOR DIVINE AUTHORITY
a. How was contempt for divine authority and violation of the third commandment punished? Leviticus 24:10–16, 23.
“On one occasion the son of an Israelitish woman and of an Egyptian, one of the mixed multitude that had come up with Israel from Egypt, left his own part of the camp, and entering that of the Israelites, claimed the right to pitch his tent there. This the divine law forbade him to do, the descendants of an Egyptian being excluded from the congregation until the third generation. A dispute arose between him and an Israelite, and the matter being referred to the judges was decided against the offender.
“Enraged at this decision, he cursed the judge, and in the heat of passion blasphemed the name of God. . . . God Himself pronounced the sentence; by the divine direction the blasphemer was conducted outside the camp and stoned to death. Those who had been witness to the sin placed their hands upon his head, thus solemnly testifying to the truth of the charge against him. Then they threw the first stones, and the people who stood by afterward joined in executing the sentence.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, pp. 407, 408.
b. Why was the punishment for these offenses so severe? Exodus 20:7.
“There are those who will question God’s love and His justice in visiting so severe punishment for words spoken in the heat of passion. But both love and justice require it to be shown that utterances prompted by malice against God are a great sin. The retribution visited upon the first offender would be a warning to others, that God’s name is to be held in reverence. But had this man’s sin been permitted to pass unpunished, others would have been demoralized; and as the result many lives must eventually have been sacrificed.”—Ibid., p.408.
c. How do we sometimes show contempt for God’s authority today? Judges 17:6.
“The sin of this age is disregard of God’s express commands.”—Testimonies, vol. 3, p. 483.
5. CHOOSING OBEDIENCE INSTEAD
a. Why did the Lord require obedience of His ancient people? Deuteronomy 6:1, 2, 24, 25. Where does true obedience spring from? Deuteronomy 6:5, 6.
“All true obedience comes from the heart. It was heart work with Christ. And if we consent, He will so identify Himself with our thoughts and aims, so blend our hearts and minds into conformity to His will, that when obeying Him we shall be but carrying out our own impulses. The will, refined and sanctified, will find its highest delight in doing His service. When we know God as it is our privilege to know Him, our life will be a life of continual obedience. Through an appreciation of the character of Christ, through communion with God, sin will become hateful to us.”—The Desire of Ages, p. 668.
b. Where should we begin to teach obedience and why? Deuteronomy 6:7–9.
“From their earliest life children should be taught to obey their parents, to respect their word, and to reverence their authority. . . . In respecting and rendering obedience to their parents, they may learn how to respect and obey their heavenly Father.”—Child Guidance, pp. 82, 83.
“Let the youth and the little children be taught to choose for themselves that royal robe woven in heaven’s loom—the ‘fine linen, clean and white’ (Revelation 19:8), which all the holy ones of earth will wear. This robe, Christ’s own spotless character, is freely offered to every human being. But all who receive it will receive and wear it here.
“Let the children be taught that as they open their minds to pure, loving thoughts and do loving and helpful deeds, they are clothing themselves with His beautiful garment of character.”—Ibid., p.190.
PERSONAL REVIEW QUESTIONS
1. Had the Israelites obeyed Moses, what would have happened to them?
2. What role did singing have in the wilderness journey?
3. What is to be our sole purpose in associating with unbelievers?
4. How can we reverence God’s name today?
5. How may we be daily clothing ourselves with Christ’s character?