And the Lord spoke to Moses and to Aaron, saying, “How long shall this wicked congregation grumble against me? I have heard the grumblings of the people of Israel, which they grumble against me. Say to them, ‘As I live, declares the Lord, what you have said in my hearing I will do to you: your dead bodies shall fall in this wilderness, and of all your number, listed in the census from twenty years old and upward, who have grumbled against me, not one shall come into the land where I swore that I would make you dwell, except Caleb the son of Jephunneh and Joshua the son of Nun. But your little ones, who you said would become a prey, I will bring in, and they shall know the land that you have rejected. But as for you, your dead bodies shall fall in this wilderness. And your children shall be shepherds in the wilderness forty years and shall suffer for your faithlessness, until the last of your dead bodies lies in the wilderness. Numbers 14:26-33, ESV.
Can you imagine what it was like to be an eighteen-year-old Israelite when God’s judgment fell on His people for their faithlessness? God sentenced them to forty years of wilderness journeying and suffering, during which all of those who were twenty years old or older would die. All, that is, but Caleb and Joshua. Our hypothetical eighteen-year-old would be one of the “shepherds in the wilderness forty years.” He would watch nearly all of his elders die. At the end of the four decades, he would enter the Promised Land as a fifty-eight-year-old. He would likely be one of the elders in Israel.
God promises to spare a generation of His people and bring them into the land of promise. In sparing them, He is also preparing them. Their experience would be a ready reminder that He was God and that sin has consequences. It would also be a reminder of His love. They will have seen His judgment and seen His grace by the time comes for them to enter the land.
Life is that way. It is not always easy. Nonetheless, even in the struggles of life, we can know that God is ever active in our lives. Sometimes we suffer the consequences of other people’s sin. Sometimes we experience long hardship that we might learn of our God. Sometimes He is disciplining us. Sometimes He is teaching us of His grace. Sometimes He is preparing us for a blessing to come.
My prayer today is that you will trust God in whatever you are going through, looking forward to the day when we will enter our eternal land of promise.