I am reading a book called “Lord, Change my Attitude before it's too late”. The premise of the book, which is so far okay, is the idea that the Lord punished Israel for their bad attitude by making them wander in the desert for 40 years.
The problem is that I don't believe that punishment had anything to do with making the children of Israel wander in the desert.
Here is my take on what happened.
God took a bunch of people who were used to following orders and being slaves to Egyptian leaders. God gave them an Egyptian leader (Moses) who was actually one of them and had that leader tell them what to do. That worked really well right up to the point where they actually had to show some initiative in battle and fight for their new land.
When it came time for those people to fight, those slaves who had never raised a hand to their oppressors, they balked. Why wouldn't they balk? They were salves, essentially bred to be subservient to their masters. Aggression and the attitudes for risk taking were essentially bred right out of them. They were tough as nails and as mild as sheep. They had been bred and trained to be exactly that way.
God needed a new generation of people to fight, people who were not born into slavery, who were not bred and trained to be sheep. God needed a people who were willing to fight, whose very existence depended on their ability to survive.
God took a bunch of slaves and stuck them in one of the most hostile environments in the world to train them to become the warriors they needed to be.
Sheep who have no confidence in God need to have confidence in their leaders.
People who have no confidence in God need to have confidence in themselves and their leaders.
I am a desert trained warrior and let me tell you that the people who trained me while I was in the US Army were some of the baddest ass people I ever met. Israelis and Arabs. People who fought for every breath because they were breathing in an oven. People who fought for water because without water they would die. People who did everything they had to do and nothing that they did not have to do.
That 40 years of wandering in the desert created some of the toughest soldiers in the world. It was the ultimate basic training, probably three generations separated the youngest from the oldest. Generations who had become tough, aggressive and smart about the desert.
God is not interested in punishment. God is interested in building people and sometimes you have to destroy old attitudes to build new ones. Sometimes it takes some pretty harsh treatment, Basic Training, Prison, Wandering, to destroy the old attitudes.
Sometimes the treatment is too harsh and it destroys the person, when people are in charge of the training.
God is perfect. God's training is always perfect. We don't even understand what he is training us for, we just need to know that God is helping us to become the best people we can become.