Unexpected insights from a boring Old Testament list

I've started doing my daily Bible reading by following the "Different Topic Every Day" reading plan available at http://www.heartlight.org. It's been helpful for me to do this prescribed daily reading plan because too often I'd find myself sitting with my Bible open, not knowing where to read and feeling lost as I'd skip around, from page to page, more or less just idling time. So, for the time being, this is how I'm doing my daily Bible reading. It's set up to get you through the whole Bible in a year.

Anyway, today's reading was in the ever exciting Old Testament book of Numbers, detailing all the places the Israelites went after they left Egypt on their way to the promised land, West of the Jordan River. As I was reading, I found myself start skimming, going, "Yeah, yeah, yeah. They moved a lot of places. Let's skip ahead to the good stuff."

Which made me wonder: Why did God include this laundry list of locations? Why is this important? Obviously it must be, to make it in the Holy Word, so what might that be? Over and over again they moved around on this journey to their home. Perhaps this is a bird's eye view of all our lives: God is moving us from point a to b to c to d to e...

And then I noticed that as Moses listed each location, occasionally he'd offer a short description like this place was a desert, this one was without any water or it was an oasis with "12 springs and 70 palm trees." This list goes from Numbers 33:5-37, so about 32 moves. Of these, there are 4 deserts they journey through, one noted place where "there was no water for the people to drink," a sea they journey through and one oasis that they reach after making their way out of the wilderness. Most of the time, though, the places were pretty ordinary with little to say about them.

Does this sound like our lives? A few notable peaks and valleys, and a lot of seemingly unmentionable stuff in the middle? And yet, God mentions it. Verse 2 says, "At the LORD's command Moses wrote down the places where they went as they traveled. This is the list." He watched and recorded it all. And because God is the same as he ever was, he continues to watch it and record it all in our journeys even now. Every blip on the map matters to him and take us to where we're going: The promised land.

1 comment:

  1. I really enjoyed reading this post. I know you wrote it a long time ago, but it's still valid, and just what I needed to hear. Thanks. :)
    Oh, and thanks for the link too. :)


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