“Most people are bothered by those passages of Scripture they do not understand, but the passages that bother me are those I do understand.” — Mark Twain
Eleven Days to Rest
I was reading Deuteronomy the other day, and I had trouble getting past verse 2 of the book before this passage started to bother me and my mind started to wander off in a different direction. (Maybe it is just me, but sometimes my mind has a mind of its own.) Verse 2 says, “Normally it takes only eleven days to travel from Mount Sinai to Kadesh-barnea” (NLT).
In other words, a simple journey that should have taken about two weeks took thirty-eight years (they had already stayed two years at Mt. Sinai – Numbers 1:1). It made me wonder how many times I’ve over-stayed my welcome in one place because I murmured, complained and doubted God’s word. I’d hate to count.
Kadesh-barnea should have been a place of blessing. It was the place God directed Moses to lead the people so that they would have direct access into the Promised Land. But due to a rebellious spirit, it became a place of cursing. Although Kadesh means “Holy” or “consecrated,” a brief study of this place shows it was anything but a holy place to the rebellious children of Israel.
As a concession to the people who doubted that God knew what He was doing (Deut. 1:19-22), Moses allowed twelve men to go into the Promised Land as scouts. A majority of these men reported seeing large, walled cities and a people who descended from giants. What they saw with their eyes then suffocated their faith, and the people claimed that the LORD hated them and brought them here to be slaughtered (Deut. 1:25). (Perhaps this is where too much information can hinder our faith in God?)
It was at Kadesh that Korah’s rebellion took place (Num. 16) and over 250 people died. Miriam died and was buried at Kadesh (Num. 20:1), and it was here that Moses disobeyed the Lord by striking the rock he was directed to speak to (Numb. 20:8-11). Finally, it was not too long after God told the Israelites to move from Kadesh toward Canaan that Aaron died (Num. 20:23-29).
I believe there are many times when God withholds information because He knows we need to walk by faith, not by sight (2 Cor. 5:7). I know that my faith would have faltered had I known about every giant I was going to face in the places God sent me to live. This is why I am learning to be satisfied with knowing less and believing more. Too much information can be a faith-killer, and I am going to need all the faith I can muster to rid the land of the giants I will face.
I imagine that God has sent you places where, if you knew what you were getting into, you would have said with the Israelites, “Does the LORD hate me to have brought me here?” Like the Israelites, we may have cried under the oppression of our slavery to sin and prayed for a new beginning. However, when the view of our new assignment overwhelms our faith in God’s provision, we long for the comfort of what we know (even if it is uncomfortable) and wish we could return. This is the place, of course, where we exchange an eleven-day walk for a thirty-eight year wandering in the desert.
But remember, not all the reports of Canaan were bad. The spies also brought back samples of the fruit of the land, and this is the key to the passage. Whereas some people will always focus upon the “opposition,” the Lord wants us to focus on His provision.
So the next time God says, “Go,” let us not ask too many questions about the place He wants to send us. Will there be giants in the land? Probably. But we will also find God in the midst of the giants, and where the spirit of the Lord is, there is peace.
Previously posted Jan. ’09