The Wilderness

A Brief Overview Of The Wilderness Wanderings

During these years of wandering in the wilderness, Moses` patience was continually tested by the murmurings, grumblings, and complaints of the people. At one point, Moses` patience reached its breaking point and he sinned against the Lord, in anger against the people. When the people again grumbled against Moses, saying they had no water, the Lord told Moses to speak to the rock and water would flow forth. Instead, Moses lifted his hand and struck the rock twice with his rod. Apparently because he disobeyed the Lord in this act, Moses was not permitted to enter the Promised Land (Num. 20:1-13). That privilege would belong to his successor, Joshua.

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Moses Sends Twelve Spies To Canaan

Moses sent 12 spies, one from each of the 12 tribes of Israel, into Canaan to explore the land. The spies returned with glowing reports of the fruitfulness of the land. They brought back samples of its figs and pomegranates and a cluster of grapes so large that it had to be carried between two men on a pole (Num. 13:1-25). The majority of the spies, however, voted against the invasion of the land because of the huge inhabitants of Canaan, and fortified cities "walled to heaven". It was a report of doom. Yet two of the spies, Joshua and Caleb, brought back a report full of faith and encouragement.

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Israelites Refuse To Enter Canaan

But the people lost heart and rebelled, refusing to enter Canaan and crying for a new leader who would take them back to Egypt. To punish them for their lack of faith, God condemned all of that generation, except Caleb and Joshua, to perish in the wilderness for 40 years (Num. 14:26-38). All those 20 years old and up would indeed perish in the wilderness with the exception of Joshua and Caleb.

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Joshua Succeeds Moses

After 40 years the sandglass ran out and Moses brought the tribes back to Kadesh. They camped on the plains of Moab where Moses spoke to them for the last time. Moses then turned his leadership over to Joshua. God led him to the top of Mount Nebo to see the land and there Moses died.

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