Deuteronomy, chapters 1-3

“‘And you saw in the wilderness how Jehovah your God carried you just as a man carries his son, everywhere you went until you came to this place.’ […] Who was going ahead of you on the way, to spy out a place for you to camp. He appeared by fire at night and by a cloud in the daytime to show you the way you should walk.”
~Deuteronomy 1:31,33

During trying times, the future may appear to us like a dark, unknown wilderness.

It becomes much more difficult to discern what direction our life should take.

We need strong faith to trust that God will somehow provide us with all we need to sustain ourselves and our families (Ps. 37:25; Matt. 6:31).

A step in the wrong direction may set us back years financially or psychologically, or may even ruin our most intimate relationships.

Faith helps keep us cool-headed so that we do not rush toward the first available option or needlessly argue with our family, only to later regret it.

During their 40-year wandering, the Israelites lacked nothing (De. 2:7; 8:4).

Jehovah God visibly advised them of when to set up camp or when to move and in what direction.

Their leaders knew that they would some day arrive to the Promised Land if they kept following God’s guidance.

Nowadays, instead of fire or a cloud, we have God’s visible organization funneling spiritual food at the proper time’ to his people all over the earth (Matt. 24:45).

This spiritual food that nurtures our faith now comes in a new video and audio platform: Tv.jw.org.

There, we can find sound entertainment to help develop our ‘power to distinguish right and wrong’ (Heb. 5:14).

A mature faith will help us recognize what direction God wants us to head next and act accordingly.

Thus we will not wander around so much and the time it takes to arrive at the “Promised Land” will seem shorter (Rev. 21:4).

Numbers, chapters 26-29

These were the ones registered by Moses and Eleazar the priest when they registered the Israelites in the desert plains of Moab by the Jordan at Jericho. But among them there was no one who had been registered by Moses and Aaron the priest in the census of the Israelites taken in the wilderness of Sinai.
~Numbers 26:63,64

After 40 years of roaming the desert, the amount of male Israelites had actually decreased instead of increased.

The previous generation of males had been kept out of the Promised Land because of their lack of faith, and they had all died out except for Joshua and Caleb (Nu. 14:30; 26:65).

Upon once again reaching the verge of entering the Promised Land, Jehovah commanded Moses and the new High Priest, Eleazar to take a second census.

So we are able to clearly see the effect the trials in the desert had on Israelite families.

Tribe 1st Census 2nd Census
Reuben 46,500 43,730
Simeon 59,300 22,200
Gad 45,650 40,500
Judah 74,600 76,500
Isachar 54,400 64,300
Zebulun 57,400 60,500
Manasseh 32,200 52,700
Ephraim 40,500 32,500
Benjamin 35,400 45,600
Dan 62,700 64,400
Asher 41,500 53,400
Naphtali 53,400 45,400
Total 603,550 601,730

Those trials included:

  • Israel being defeated by the Amalekites when they tried to conquer the Promised Land against God’s orders (Nu. 14:39-45)
  • Some Israelites rebelling alongside Korah against Moses’s leadership and then being miraculously executed by God (Nu. 16:20-50)
  • Many Israelites growing weary and complaining about being liberated, and then being punished with venomous snakes (Nu. 21:4-9)
  • Fornicating and tainting true worship through the young men’s association with Moabite women (Nu. 25:9)

One can only wonder what habits led some families such as the ones composing the tribe of Simeon to drastically drop to less than half of its original members while other families, such as the ones belonging to the tribe of Manasseh, increased its members by 64%.

Was it their predominant attitude? Were their household heads more inclined to support and collaborate with Moses? Did they value the privilege of forming a people to represent God more than the other tribes? Did the males organize worship in a constant, regular way? Did the knowledge that the older generation had that it was not going to enter the Promised Land not deter it from doing all it could to support its children’s future?

Today, we are living in the last days (Matt. 24:3-14; 2 Tim. 3:1-5).

Still, many grandmothers and grandfathers who have spent their lives working in favor of Jehovah’s interests may not make it alive into the promised New World (2 Pet. 3:13).

It is inspiring to see their self-sacrificing, restless effort which greatly benefits the spiritual well-being of their families and congregations.