Egypt to Canaan: Relevance

I continue to be amazed at the relevance of Scripture. The Bible tells us more about ourselves than any other book in history. The first pages of Scripture explain how we got here, God’s desire to fellowship with us, how that fellowship was broken by sin, and God’s promise to ultimately deal with sin forever. We learn about gender and the institution of marriage. We learn about the value of work and how work became burdensome. We even discover why childbirth is such a painful ordeal.

But we are not far into the text when we might begin to wonder if the Bible’s relevance is starting to wear off. Suddenly, we find ourselves immersed in the history of one particular nation and that nation’s wandering in a wilderness for 40 years. Of the nearly 4,000 years of human history covered in the Old Testament, 40 of those consume the books of Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy. The timeline in Genesis, which was moving along so quickly, comes to a near standstill. Why? Is it possible that the nation’s wilderness journey so long ago has relevance for us today, and that the pace has slowed down for our contemplation? The Bible itself answers that question in the affirmative.

Within a description of the many details of Israel’s wilderness journey (1Co 10:1-11), the apostle Paul says that “these things happened as examples for us” (v6)[1] and “were written for our instruction” (v11). He admonishes the Corinthians (and us) not to “crave evil things as they did” (v6) and not to be idolaters or immoral, “as some of them were” (vv7-8). Paul exhorts us not to “put Christ to the test” or “complain, as some of them did” (vv9-10). Obviously, Paul saw great relevance for us in the behavior of Israel during their desert trek.

Additionally, the writer to the Hebrews emphasizes the typical meaning of the wilderness experience in chapters 3 and 4, warning us not to miss our promised rest through unbelief and hardness of heart. As we read the New Testament, the parallels between Israel’s experiences and ours become clear, and valuable lessons are left for us to learn.

This issue of Truth & Tidings is dedicated to a brief examination of Israel’s journey from Egypt to Canaan and its relevance to us as God’s people today.

We will see what God did for His people then – and does for us now – by exploring the themes of God’s omnipotence, deliverance, guidance and sustenance. We will note what God demanded from His people then – and demands from us now – as we trace the weighty subjects of reverence, allegiance, endurance, dependence and remembrance. It will also be shown what God desired for His people then – and desires for us now – by examining our entrance into God’s rest, as well as Scripture’s many warnings against resistance and its consequences.

Indeed, the Egypt to Canaan sojourn illustrates the whole Christian experience from bondage to liberty, unfolding God’s redemptive plan for His people. And what could be more relevant to us than that?

[1] All Scripture quotations in this article are from the NET.