That sounds like a long time, doesn't it? Next month I'll be 46 years old. It seems like a reeeeeeally long time ago that I was only 6 years of age!! First grade, for crying out loud!
Or think about a baby born today. Seems like a lifetime away that they'll reach their 40th birthday!
That's how long the Israelites had to wander around the desert before they were allowed into the Promised Land. Can you imagine camping for forty years?! In the desert??
The real kicker is that the Promised Land was not far away. It wasn't across an ocean or on a different continent. In fact, some of the Israelites even saw the Promised Land and scoped it out. Remember, Caleb, Joshua and the other tribal leaders were sent into the "land flowing with milk and honey" back in Numbers 13.
So why did God keep the Israelites wandering the desert for forty long years?
It's pretty simple, really.
D I S O B E D I E N C E!
Time and time again, the Israelites disobeyed God. They whined. They complained. They rallied against Moses. They doubted God. They didn't do what they were told.
Hmm. Does that sound familiar?
We're all like the Israelites at some point in our lives. We whine. We complain. We don't do what we know we're supposed to do.
Here's what God said about the Israelites' disobedience when Moses asked God to forgive them:
"The Lord replied, "I have forgiven them, as you asked. Nevertheless, as surely as I live and as surely as the glory of the Lord fills the whole earth, not one of the men who saw my glory and the miraculous signs I performed in Egypt and in the desert but who disobeyed me and tested me ten times---not one of them will ever see the land I promised on oath to their forefathers." Numbers 14:20-23
God waited for an entire generation to die before He allowed His people to enter the Promised Land. All because of their disobedience.
Are you waiting to get into your Promised Land? Maybe it's a job or a relationship or some other dream God has given you. It may be that God is simply letting you wait to teach you patience or some other lesson. Or it may be that He can't let you into your Promised Land because of disobedience. Are you living your life in a way that is displeasing to God? Do you feel like you're in the desert? You may need to examine your heart to make sure you're on the same page with God. If there is anything standing in the way--sin, bitterness, ingratitude, an unforgiving spirit--deal with it quickly so you can move forward. (Believe me, I'm talking to myself, too!!)
Promised Land or the Desert: It's your choice.