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Wilderness Wanderings


Photo Credit: Benjamin Joyce

October 5, 2022


Praying Friends,


Thank you for your prayers for revival and for our prodigals. As we continue to pray for God’s working in our lives and in the lives of others, may this devotional be a source of encouragement.


The book of Numbers is the 4th in our Bible and tells the story of a people who came short of true victory. The Septuagint translators (those who translated the ancient Hebrew text into Greek) named the book Numbers because of the double numbering of the Children of Israel. The Hebrew title simply means, “in the wilderness.” Maybe a more applicable title could be Wilderness Wanderings.


The book resumes the narrative that left off in Exodus and highlights some significant events through the remaining 38 years of wandering from Mt. Sinai to the Promised Land.


Guided by the Holy Spirit, Paul writes to the Corinthian believers (1 Corinthians 10:1-14) and gives a summary of Numbers:


I don’t want you to forget, dear brothers and sisters, about our ancestors in the wilderness long ago. All of them were guided by a cloud that moved ahead of them, and all of them walked through the sea on dry ground. In the cloud and in the sea, all of them were baptized as followers of Moses. All of them ate the same spiritual food, and all of them drank the same spiritual water. For they drank from the spiritual rock that traveled with them, and that rock was Christ. Yet God was not pleased with most of them, and their bodies were scattered in the wilderness. These things happened as a warning to us, so that we would not crave evil things as they did, or worship idols as some of them did. As the Scriptures say, “The people celebrated with feasting and drinking, and they indulged in pagan revelry.” And we must not engage in sexual immorality as some of them did, causing 23,000 of them to die in one day. Nor should we put Christ to the test, as some of them did and then died from snakebites. And don’t grumble as some of them did, and then were destroyed by the angel of death. These things happened to them as examples for us. They were written down to warn us who live at the end of the age. If you think you are standing strong, be careful not to fall. The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure. So, my dear friends, flee from the worship of idols.

The human condition has not changed. Those people long ago were no different from us today. Their story was left on record for our benefit. In the NLT, verse 6 says, “These things happened as a warning to us.” The word for warning in the original Greek is (τύπος) tupos, and according to Strongs Word Studies, it means a die, a stamp, a shape, a statue, a model, an example, a fashion, a figure, a form, a manner, a pattern, and a print.


There is a pattern in their behavior that we should be careful to avoid. First they lusted after evil things (verse 6). Then they substituted other things for God (verse 7). This is the sin of idolatry. In their departure, they committed immorality (verse 8). The tragedy of their unbelief led them to tempt Christ (verse 9), which came out in their grumbling attitude toward God.


It is easy for us to think we are somehow better and condemn these people, but Paul turns the light of truth on the Corinthian believers and on us and says, “If you think you are standing strong, be careful not to fall. The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience” (1 Corinthians 10:12-13).


Standing strong is a good thing when our strength is being drawn from the Lord. But there is a dangerous, proud mindset that says, “I can do this myself. I’m not going to fall. I’m too good for that.”


Life is full of temptations that will draw us away from a close, intimate place with God. On our own, we will fall. With His help we will stand. This requires trust in and worship of our great God.


In verse 13, Paul says, “God is faithful.” This is a given. This is the nature of God. Numbers teaches us that we, like them, are a failing people, but God will not give up on us. God will always remain true to His promises and He will see us through to the end.


The full text says, “The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure” (1 Corinthians 10:13).


God is faithful and He is also sufficient. Sometimes our path is unbearable and overwhelming. We are stretched to the limit and beyond, yet through it all, He will be with us. If we turn to Him, He will supply what we need.


Love in Christ,


Bryan and Rachel