Chapter 33 recounts the “stages” of Israel’s wandering through the wilderness. The Hebrew word translated as “stages” is literally “plucking up,” which refers to pulling up the tent pegs before beginning their march. We can identify around 40 of these camping sites between Egypt and the plains of Moab. This review of all their moves was to remind the Israelites of all that had taken place in the wilderness. It’s remarkable to realize that a direct journal from Egypt to the Promised Land would have taken about 11 days. Yet, it took Israel 40 years, and 40 stops along the way, to get there. Most of their journey was unnecessary.

It became necessary only because of their sin. They were always going somewhere; they were always on the move, but the made no progress towards the destination for a very long time.
That can happen to us in our Spiritual journey as well. We’re always on the move, aren’t we? I often feel like I’m going around in circles but making very little progress. It might be worthwhile to ask ourselves if we can see ourselves in this Old Testament illustration of wandering in the wilderness. I’m afraid to say it, but I’m afraid I often wonder if I’m making any progress at all. Don’t’ you?  We might pray, “Lord, show me all the unnecessary movement in my life, and help me focus on heading in the right direction.