It is time to look back at the journey. All places where the people have been are listed. This does not happen by the command of Moses, but “by the command of the LORD”. He looks back on His people’s journey through the wilderness.
When He looks back on our journey, it is often different from the way we look back. If we look back on it, we notice: our great unfaithfulness on the one hand and the great faithfulness of God on the other hand (Deu 8:2-32You shall remember all the way which the LORD your God has led you in the wilderness these forty years, that He might humble you, testing you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not.3He humbled you and let you be hungry, and fed you with manna which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that He might make you understand that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by everything that proceeds out of the mouth of the LORD.). We have already forgotten a lot. The wilderness wind has erased many traces of our journey. But God still sees every footstep of us in the wilderness sand.
When God looks back on the journey, it is to show how His people have walked before Him, how they have set out and how they have camped. In this enumeration he does not speak about revolt, but about progress. If we had only this list of places, we could conclude that Israel from Egypt to Moab faithfully moved from one place to another in good order.
The situation is that the new generation has replaced the old one. However, the report gives the impression that there has never been an earlier generation. The people who arrive in the plains of Moab are seen as the people who have left Egypt. With this report God indicates that His plans and intentions will be realized, despite the loss and disappearance of an entire generation.
Certain events are mentioned, but they are not events that refer to the sins of the people. At any place we can think of our way with Him and His way with us. He wants us to think about that as He does. Such memories can only exist after we have gone a way. Only then can we look back and God here proposes to do so with His eyes.
It is good to be reminded once again of God’s vision of our journey in connection with the upcoming entry into the land of promise. We see His interest in all our activities, for every step we have taken in the wilderness, for every experience we have gained there.
Nor is there any guidance through the cloud. As we pass by the places, the thought arises of the spiritual energy that the people showed again and again by going from place to place. Of course it happened under the guidance of the cloud (Num 9:15-2315Now on the day that the tabernacle was erected the cloud covered the tabernacle, the tent of the testimony, and in the evening it was like the appearance of fire over the tabernacle, until morning.16So it was continuously; the cloud would cover it [by day], and the appearance of fire by night.17Whenever the cloud was lifted from over the tent, afterward the sons of Israel would then set out; and in the place where the cloud settled down, there the sons of Israel would camp.18At the command of the LORD the sons of Israel would set out, and at the command of the LORD they would camp; as long as the cloud settled over the tabernacle, they remained camped.19Even when the cloud lingered over the tabernacle for many days, the sons of Israel would keep the LORD’s charge and not set out.20If sometimes the cloud remained a few days over the tabernacle, according to the command of the LORD they remained camped. Then according to the command of the LORD they set out.21If sometimes the cloud remained from evening until morning, when the cloud was lifted in the morning, they would move out; or [if it remained] in the daytime and at night, whenever the cloud was lifted, they would set out.22Whether it was two days or a month or a year that the cloud lingered over the tabernacle, staying above it, the sons of Israel remained camped and did not set out; but when it was lifted, they did set out.23At the command of the LORD they camped, and at the command of the LORD they set out; they kept the LORD’s charge, according to the command of the LORD through Moses.), but from that point of view the journey is not described here. Here God, as it were, attributes all the good things of the people to themselves.
We can also apply this to the journey of Christianity through the ages. God also sees in this a core that has performed true Christianity for Him. He also looks back on that journey that way. For His attention are the believers who have gone the way in spiritual energy, with all the exercises that this has brought with it. They have always passed on the torch of the testimony.
The journey is described from journey to journey or from resting place to resting place. At the same time, the description indicates that each time it was only a temporary rest. Every place of rest has given an experience. After the experience they had to move on, to the next place, to a new experience. God knows at any time in what place or situation we are.