I know there are a lot of people who don’t feel quite the same way, but my wife and I LOVE to travel. We’ve been to most of the states, and between us, we’ve been to 8 other countries with aspirations of visiting more when travel restrictions relax a bit. One of the most exciting parts of going other places is not just the sites, but the memories you make. We hiked through the Amazon jungle and swam in the Amazon river in Peru, we have seen architectural marvels of the Incan and Aztec empires, we have seen animals that most people only see in zoos or on television, and we have experienced cultures that have added so much richness to our trips.
Of course, we have the advantage of taking our phones and cameras and snapping plenty of pictures and videos to remember each stop of the trip (except for when I lost the camera card during our trip to Brasil…) Moses didn’t have the same luxury, so he does the next best thing: he reminds the people of the different places they had stopped along the way. He reminds them of places like Marah, where the water was bitter, and Elim where the fresh water was abundant. He tells of the wilderness of Sinai and of Mount Hor where Aaron died and was buried. He brings them from their initial exodus from Egypt all the way to the brink of the promised land, but for what reason?
First of all, he wants them to remember the important events that happened at each stop along the way. If I mention the towns of Iquitos, Foz do Iguassu, Cusco, or Bonito to my wife, she instantly recalls what happened in those villages. Similarly, the children of Israel would recall, either by personal experience, or by having heard the stories, exactly what happened at each of the stops Moses enumerates.
But secondly, he wants them to remember all the things that God has done along the way. This isn’t just a travel diary, but also a “Works of God” Journal. They were to recount God’s provision, protection, and in some cases judgment at each stop along the way. Perhaps this would be a good practice for you as well, to write down places, events, or key placeholders in your life where you can point back and say, “Remember what God did then?”
They are about to divide the promised land (Num. 34) and establish codes of law and order (Num. 35-36) but he wants them to have fresh in their memories what God has brought them through up to this point. He gives them a command to remove all of the people out of the land, because if they don’t those remnants will come back to be their weakness and downfall. Of course, knowing the rest of the story, we know that they didn’t completely obey that command, and God’s Word proved true. In our lives, it is important to remember what God has brought us through and remove anything and everything that would be a way for us to fall back into the sin that “so easily besets us.”
What’s in your “travel diary”?