Israel had already wandered in Arabia for over a year when Caleb & Joshua spied out the land of the giants. Let's repeat that. God's people had already observed Passover for a second time! It had been more than one full year, before they reached the Promised Land.
Most Bible readers remember Israel's 40 years of wandering, all of which were given as punishment when the Israelites failed to trust God about being able to conquer those scary giants. But few ever mention the year-plus before that punishment began. It takes three weeks to walk from the Red Sea to the Jordan, if that long. God made their journey take longer because He had his own reasons for doing so.
God could have given Moses the Law on Mount Zion.
He chose Mount Sinai on purpose.
The pillar of fire in the night, the cloud in the day, the giving of the Law, the water that flowed from the rock, the manna that came every morning; these were all lessons that God wanted Israel to learn - and future Israel to remember - in the context of homelessness. Now, God absolutely wanted to get his people settled in the Land. He didn't want them to be nomads forever. In fact, the Law gave instructions about what they should do with their houses, once built there. But, at this time, God had distinct reasons for keeping the wandering Israelites in motion, living in tents.
What does all of this mean? Had the Israelites been able to believe God the first time, about taking the land... Had that first generation from Egypt somehow been able to trust and to follow His leading... Had they somehow avoided that forty year punishment... Had that been possible, or had that taken place... God still would have taken a full year to impress Himself upon Israel in the context of homelessness. More, God used that time to impress upon Israel the vagabond nature of His Movement on Earth.
The Pentateuch illustrates this in many ways, but nothing in the entire Law took as much time and effort to lay out and to institute, while in the wilderness, than the detailed instructions God gave Moses concerning the building and upkeep for his new House on Earth. Most Bible readers do remember this one, but it's significance often gets downplayed.
From Sinai, God declared that his Earthly residence, from then on, would be a movable tent!
To be continued...
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