The journey from the Red Sea to the Promised Land started so, well, promisingly. In Exodus 14 we read of the culmination of the Lord’s great deliverance:

the people of Israel walked on dry ground through the sea, the waters being a wall to them on their right hand and on their left. Thus the Lord saved Israel that day from the hand of the Egyptians, and Israel saw the Egyptians dead on the seashore. Israel saw the great power that the Lord used against the Egyptians, so the people feared the Lord, and they believed in the Lord and in his servant Moses.” 

On the other side, Moses and the Israelites sang a song to the Lord (15:1-18) and Miriam led the women in song and dance to honour the Lord (15:21). Remarkably, just three days into their journey, the people grumble for they had not yet found water. It seems pretty hard to miss the irony: a people who had just witnessed the Lord of the waters delivering them through the sea, seemingly could not trust the same Lord for a drink. By the time of their lengthy encampment at Kadesh the seeds of such unbelief had grown to full rebellion. At Marah, following Moses’ intercession the Lord provides Elim’s 12 springs and 70 date palms. But unbelief left unchecked has its effect and the wilderness’ wasteland is a suitable picture for a people whose lives have run the course to waste as well. Because of unbelief, the journey through the wilderness became the longest funeral march in history as a whole generation is condemned to death on the wrong side of the Promised Land. 

Something to Apply:

It is no different today, whether we are considering individuals or churches, if we reach a certain point but say rebelliously to the voice of God, “I go no further than here”. We may continue to exist, but it is an existence characterized by wasteland. Our life has no godly aim and goes nowhere, perhaps in spite of much activity. These are not easy passages to read and reflect upon: they are profoundly sad. But Paul encouraged us to learn from such things (1 Cor 10). If you are reading this as a Christian, you have also witnessed the great delivering power of the Lord for “He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son. (Colossians 1:13)” No greater power can be found, and no greater miracle effected, than the miracle of our new life in Christ! Are you at a “Kadesh” point in your life, encourage godly trust and hope through meditating on the Lord’s faithful, powerful work in your life.