There is no metaphor more apt to describe the journey of Moses and the Israelites in the desert than a roller coaster ride. We may think of wandering through the desert and assume an aura of gloominess. And there is plenty of that.

But there are some really incredible highs as well. The Israelites were rescued from Egypt and a land of slavery. They were led by a pillar of fire while food appeared on the ground miraculously. They received the Ten Commandments and viewed manifestations of God coming from Mount Sinai.

Moses himself was used by God to part the Red Sea. The Bible says he was the most humble man in the entire earth. But he disobeyed God’s command. For this, he was disqualified from entering the Promised Land.

The next generation entered the land of milk and honey. They possessed the inheritance that was their promised land. But the roller coaster continued. They had great victories when they were faithful and courageous, and great defeats when they were not.

In short, the general pattern is that the Israelites’ could not endure the trial of success. The mountains led to valleys and plains, and back to mountains. The salvation of the Israelites was not found in the geography of the Promised Land. It is in obedience to God, available in the wilderness as well as the mountains. So it is with us.

“Then Moses led Israel from the Red Sea, and they went out into the wilderness of Shur; and they went three days in the wilderness and found no water.”
– Exodus 15:22