Era 4: Desert Wanderings

Introduction to Egypt & Exodus (with Jeff Cavins)

INTRODUCTION:

This era covers Numbers (Primary Narrative Book) and Deuteronomy (Supplemental Book)


  • 15th Century B.C.

  • It begins with Israel’s departure from Mt. Sinai a little over a year after the Exodus

  • It continues with their wandering in the desert for forty years on their way to the Promised Land

  • There will be repeated rebellions against God and Moses

  • Numbers is so named because of the CENSUS taken at the beginning and at the end of the book

  • Numbers and Deuteronomy overlap a little, but are also quite different

  • Deuteronomy means SECOND LAW

  • Because of the hardness of Israel’s heart at this time, it was necessary for SECOND LAW after we finished Leviticus

  • These books answer the question of “How do you live your life if you enter a country that is diametrically opposed to the Message of God?”

  • This period lasts about 40 YEARS

  • Deuteronomy has so many powerful words of ENCOURAGEMENT, LAW, AND DIRECTION FROM THE LORD that can be applied to our lives

  • Numbers has a lot of parts where there are lists of names, counting things, etc. (YAY!)

  • These parts may seem boring

  • These parts are STILL CRITICAL

  • Particularly for those of you who want to go deeper into the story of the Bible

  • For example, remember TOLEDOT? Well, TOLEDOT makes a reappearance in NUMBERS

  • What is TOLEDOT? Do you remember? We talked about it way back on the ERA 2: Patriarchs episode

  • TOLEDOT is a literary device where we go from the BIG PICTURE down to ONE MAN (Can you guess who that man is?)

  • When Numbers starts, the Israelites are still at Mt. Sinai

  • They were at Mt. Sinai for 1 year and they received the Tabernacle, the Priesthood, and the Law

  • Now, they break camp but before that, we have a recap of the Exodus story (Kind of like recapping a season of some show on Netflix)

  • The major launching point of Numbers is Chapter 10

  • The Israelites were prepared as God’s People to go and take the Promised Land

  • The last time they were there, Abraham was alive

  • Now, there will be a test

  • All along during Salvation History, there are tests

  • Well, there are tests in each of our lives today

  • The Israelites will send 12 spies up into the land

  • They stop in Kadesh Barnea (from Hebrew KADOSH which means Holy, separated ones)

  • This is the launching point for realizing if the Israelites are really the HOLY, SEPARATED ONES, or if they tuck their tails and run (just like Brave Brave Sir Robin ;) )

  • They come back to Moses and give their report

  • Joshua and Caleb are confident they can take the Promised Land

  • The rest chicken out

  • For this, God tells them that for EVERY DAY they spied on the land, they will spend ONE YEAR wandering in the desert

  • Can you guess how many days they spent spying on the people in the Promised Land?

  • 40!

  • The number 40 is a number of TESTING

  • Ever heard of Lent?

  • We see the number 40 over and over in The Bible

  • We will then see how the story unfolds as they head out into the wilderness to wander about

  • God’s PLAN was that the Israelites would TRUST HIM and go to the Promised Land and TAKE IT, not by their own power, but BY GOD’S POWER

  • And yet, the people still don’t trust God, or they don’t know HOW TO TRUST GOD

  • They lack FAITH

  • God sends them to wander for 40 years in the desert TO TRAIN THEM YET AGAIN

  • God shows that MAN DOES NOT LIVE BY BREAD ALONE, BUT BY EVERY WORD THAT PROCEEDS OUT OF THE MOUTH OF GOD. (Where have you heard that before?)

  • That is the real lesson for us today

  • It’s one thing to read through The Bible in a year

  • It’s a whole other thing to TRUST GOD

  • All that you’ve read up to this point in time, how are you putting it into practice?

  • Or are you just reading it?

  • Are you making a mental assent to all that you’ve read?

  • Are you trusting God with what you’ve read?

  • In this 40 years of wandering, the older generations (> 20 years old) are going to die out in the wilderness and will not enter The Promised Land

  • The younger generation will end up being close to 60 years old by the time they get into The Promised Land

  • Their fearless leader, Moses, isn’t going to get into The Promised Land (do you know why? Pop Quiz!!)

  • Moses ends up dying on Mt. Nebo and it will actually be JOSHUA who leads the Israelites into The Promised Land

  • This younger generation will end up being important later on in the narrative and ESPECIALLY WHEN WE GET TO THE GOSPELS

  • REMEMBER THIS!!

  • In Numbers, God wants the Israelites to be people who are FOCUSED ON HIS WORD

  • He brought them out into the wilderness to remember this

  • He even makes them DRESS in such a way that there is a SACRAMENTAL that will remind them of His Word in the desert

  • This Sacramental has 4 tassels called TZITZIT tied on the four corners of their garment in such a way as to remind them of the 613 commandments of THE TORAH from GOD

  • When you see this TZITZI, you are REMINDED that you are a son or daughter of the commandments of God

  • This is one way to learn to TRUST GOD

  • Remember, the commandments were NOT GIVEN FIRST

  • What came first? COVENANT RELATIONSHIP

  • The TZITZI is also a REMINDER OF THE COVENANT RELATIONSHIP

  • This is also similar to wearing a SCAPULAR or a CRUCIFIX

  • TO REMIND YOU THAT YOU HAVE BEEN CLAIMED BY GOD (It’s why I wear my Rosary)

  • So many interesting things happen in Numbers

  • The Nazarite Vow

  • The number 70

  • The Bronze Serpent

  • The Desert Wanderings foreshadowing something in the future (Any idea what that could be?)

  • The priestly blessing

  • THIS IS IN THE MASS Numbers Ch 6: “The Lord bless you and keep you. The Lord make His face to shine upon you and be gracious to you. The Lord lift up His countenance upon you and give you peace (or Shalom)”

  • This blessing becomes a major theme in the narrative

  • The last thing the priest says at Mass is, “Bow your head and receive God’s Blessing”

  • Too bad a good number of people are already in their cars by this point

  • Numbers Ch 33 is a very cool reminder of everything that has happened so far

  • It is a MINI Story of the entire story so far from Egypt to Now

  • Moses’ last speech is in Deuteronomy

  • This is an amazing book that is structured in such a way that the first part of it LOOKS BACK TO WHERE THEY CAME FROM

  • The middle part is WHERE THEY ARE RIGHT NOW

  • And the last part is to LOOK FORWARD TO WHERE THEY ARE GOING

  • God is going to show the Israelites the secret to living in a country that worships foreign gods where they sacrifice children

  • The Israelites are about to take The Promised Land when Moses gives them THE KEY

  • The first KEY is the most famous verse in the ENTIRE BIBLE for the Jewish people

  • They say it every day

  • Jesus said it every day

  • Deuteronomy 6:4 “Here, O, Israel, The Lord our God is one Lord. And you shall love the Lord your God with all of your heart, with all of your soul, and all of your might”

  • If the Israelites are going to take the Promised Land, they HAVE TO LIVE THEIR LIVES AS IF THERE IS ONE GOD and that is their message, their testimony, and their witness

  • This is true for us today

  • Some of us may serve other gods like money, sports, etc.

  • This is IDOLATRY

  • The Israelites left one land of idols (EGYPT) and are going to enter another land of idols (CANAAN) but they STILL MUST REMEMBER THERE IS ONLY ONE GOD

  • The Second Key is the Israelites MUST DILIGENTLY TEACH THEIR CHILDREN

  • This is the PRESCRIBED FORMULA for success in a foreign land that is OPPOSED TO GOD

  • Moses tells the Israelites to teach their children diligently

  • Is it because we have not listened to these two keys that our current culture, especially in the western world, is all sorts of messed up?

  • Belong fully to the Lord yourself, and pass it on to your children, to the people who are living in your house

  • In the New Covenant, people know they are made sons and daughters of God through the Holy Spirit

  • These people can share what they have received with others

  • In the future, Israel will ask for a king

  • This foreshadows SAUL, DAVID, AND SOLOMON

  • God says the Israelites can have a King, but He will choose the king with three stipulations

  • The King cannot have MULTIPLE HORSES AND CHARIOTS

  • The King cannot have MULTIPLE WIVES

  • The King cannot GREATLY MULTIPLY SILVER AND GOLD

  • These conditions are mostly related to foreign alliances

  • We will see later in the story how this becomes THE DOWNFALL for Israel

  • Here are some important things to look out for in this era

  • Deuteronomy 24: Moses makes a provision for divorce because of the hardness of the Israelites hearts and in the future the Pharisees will call this out on Jesus but Jesus will remind them that this wasn’t the way in the beginning

  • Deuteronomy 16: three times a year the Israelites are to make a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. Once David arrives on the scene, they are going to sing psalms and read psalms on the way to Jerusalem to get their hearts right before God

  • This is what we experience when we go to Mass every week, think of it as a MINI-PILGRIMAGE where we prepare our hearts to GO UP AND MEET THE LORD IN HIS REAL PRESENCE IN THE EUCHARIST

  • In the future, Jesus will remove some of the Laws of Deuteronomy because of His fulfillment of the Law, but it’s still important to know these laws

  • Moses has been with the Israelites like a father and he knows their hearts, what has happened in the past, and their weaknesses

  • Moses desperately loves his people, but also desperately loves the Lord and he knows they will fail

  • He reminds them to remember that God will fulfill everything He promised

  • Numbers 24:17 “I see him, but not now. I behold him, but not near. A star shall come forth out of Jacob, and a scepter shall rise out of Israel”

  • This is the prophecy of the line of Judah

  • Remember, ALL OF THE OLD TESTAMENT is CHRISTOCENTRIC

  • IT ALL POINTS TO JESUS, even the parts that are less obvious

  • LISTEN TO WHAT THE LORD IS SAYING TO YOU IN A TIME OF SILENCE, IN A TIME OF BEING QUARANTINED, AND A TIME OF BEING FORMED

  • DON’T WASTE IT


Prayer by Fr Mike: “Father in Heaven, we thank you for this opportunity. We thank you for this conversation. We thank you for Jeff and his ability to teach. His wisdom and knowledge of your word that he has a heart for you and a heart for people to be able to share this, we thank you for all your good gifts. We ask that you please, as Jeff noted, help us to never forget that you are with us whether we are in the Promised Land, or in the wilderness. Whether we are in times of plenty, or times of scarcity. Father in Heaven, help us to always remember that you are faithful to your promises, and in our weakness help us to be faithful to me. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen”


The Fourth Book of Moses Commonly Called Numbers

AUTHOR AND DATE:

  • Numbers, like all the books of the Pentateuch, was compiled from various sources by unknown editors in the 6th Century B.C.

  • It largely reflects the Priestly tradition infused by many rich oral traditions and narratives passed down for many generations.


AUDIENCE:

  • The books of the Pentateuch were promulgated for the people of Israel as they repopulated Judah during the sixth and fifth centuries B.C.


MAIN THEMES:

  • Numbers uses a range of subject matter and styles, including legal texts, census counts, and narrative passages.

  • Its narrative coincides in part with the time frame of EXODUS as it recounts details of the Israelites’ entrance into the desert.

  • In fact, a couple of passages repeat stories from Exodus almost verbatim.

  • In Numbers we see that it was GOD who guided the Israelites through the desert, showing them his JUSTICE, FORGIVENESS, and MERCY

  • God provided for their needs

  • God reaffirmed His commitment to them

  • We also see that the entire desert experience served as a period of preparation for God’s people to enter the Promised Land as he melded the tribes into a unified nation.

  • During their pilgrimage they endured many hardships as well as victories.

  • Throughout these trials the people were gradually purified, and God showed them through his appointed representatives, Moses and Aaron, how they were to live and how they were to serve Him.


The Fifth Book of Moses Commonly Called Deuteronomy

AUTHOR AND DATE:

  • Deuteronomy and the other four books of the Pentateuch were edited by several anonymous sacred writers and achieved their final form around the sixth century B.C.

AUDIENCE:

  • All five books of the Pentateuch, including this fifth and final book, were promulgated for the people of Israel as they repopulated Judah during the sixth and fifth centuries B.C. The fusion of traditions and narratives from the Northern and Southern Kingdoms suggests that Deuteronomy was meant for all of Israel, a united Israel, undifferentiated according to tribal distinctions.

MAIN THEMES:

  • Deuteronomy and several of the books that derive from the Deuteronomic tradition (Joshua, Judges, 1-2 Samuel, and 1-2 Kings) provide great theological reflection on the history of Israel from the time of the settlement in Canaan to the time of the Babylonian Exile (thirteenth to sixth century B.C.)

  • The Shema provides the primary theme of the book: “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord”

  • Not only is God singular-in contradistinction to the pagan notion of multiple gods-but also he is undivided in himself; therefore, his people must be one and undivided in their harmony and worship of him. There is one God, and he has one covenant with one people. God has one people, whom he has given one land and one Law, and who worship in one Temple in Jerusalem. God’s people, like God himself, MUST BE ONE.

(*The Didache Bible RSV-CE, Ignatius Edition 2006)