Deuteronomy 1:2-3 makes a revealing statement in an editorial comment. It provides insight as to why many people never arrive at spiritual maturity.
“It is eleven days’ journey from Horeb by the way of Mount Seir to Kadesh-Barnea. In the fortieth year, on the first day of the eleventh month, Moses spoke to the people of Israel according to all that the Lord had given him in commandment to them,” (ESV)
According to this passage, it normally took 11 days to travel from Horeb or Mt. Sinai, which is in the south near the border of Egypt, to Kadesh Barnea in the north, which was located on the doorstep of the Promised Land. Yet it took Israel 40 years to make the journey.
At Mt. Sinai, the nation received instructions how to live and worship God. They received directions how to find and enjoy God’s best in the land promised to their ancestors. Yet due to pride, sin, rebellion, disobedience, and lack of faith, many never made the journey, let alone arrived at the destination. Rather than follow God’s directions, they turned off their GPS unit and headed off on a series of dangerous detours.
How many of us wander in the wilderness because we choose not to obey God’s instructions? Like Israel, we know the truth. We have been well taught. We’ve memorized Scripture verses and can quote promises. Yet we have never chosen to believe the promises and obey the instructions. Consequently, we never enjoy God’s blessings. We never grow in our faith and become mature.
Far too often, we are like the school teacher who taught for 40 years and wondered why he had never received any awards or promotions. When he asked his principal about the oversight, he was told that while he had taught for 40 years, he did not have 40 years of experience. Instead, he had one year of experience repeated 40 times. He had never grown in his knowledge of his subject or improved his skills beyond the minimum.