Reeling To and Fro Like a Drunkard

The Prophet Isaiah described our current day with these words: “The earth reels to and fro like a drunkard And it totters like a shack, For its transgression is heavy upon it, And it will fall, never to rise again.”—Isa. 24:20 New American Standard Bible

The world bounces back and forth between competing political, economic, social and religious philosophies, looking for and never finding one that meets its needs or solves its problems. Instead, mankind becomes more and more divided into competing groups with a growing anger for, and intolerance of, those who do not share their values and philosophies.

Because of this dilemma, Jesus prophesied regarding our day, “On the earth dismay among nations, in perplexity at the roaring of the sea and the waves, men fainting from fear and the expectation of the things which are coming upon the world; for the powers of the heavens will be shaken.” (Luke 21:25,26 NASB) Men’s hearts are failing them for fear of the coming political, religious, economic and social strife. To man there appears no way out of their current trouble. Man has neither the wisdom, the resources, nor the proper spirit to resolve all of the ills afflicting this planet and its many human and animal inhabitants.

Still, Jesus prophesied that these signs would herald the approach of his earthly kingdom. “When these things begin to take place, straighten up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”—Luke 21:28 NASB

This trouble signals the imminent implementation of Christ’s earthly kingdom which will bless all the families of the earth. The Apostle Paul wrote, “The anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God.” (Rom. 8:19 NASB) The heavenly deliverance of the completed church, Jesus’ faithful followers or “the sons of God,” will then bring an end to this present evil world. (Gal. 1:4) They will replace it with a “new heavens” (religious government) and “new earth” (civil government) based on righteousness that will bring peace and life to all mankind.—2 Peter 3:13

This new heavens and earth pictures Christ’s kingdom, which will resurrect every man, woman and child from the grave, wipe away tears from off all faces and eliminate death, mourning, crying and pain from man’s experience. (Rev. 21:4) In this kingdom, the blind will see, the deaf will hear, the lame will walk, and all will know the Lord, from the least unto the greatest.—Isa. 35:5,6; Jer. 31:34

The competing philosophies of man will be replaced by the law of God—the law of righteousness and love for their fellow men. A highway of holiness will be cast up for all mankind to walk upon to perfection, harmony with God, and everlasting life. (Isa. 35:8; 62:10) Man will no longer fear the future but rejoice in the love of God and his deliverance.—Isa. 25:9

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Entering the Promised Land

Delivering the Israelites from Egyptian bondage fulfilled God’s promise to Abraham that he would make his descendants into a great nation and lead them to a land flowing with milk and honey. God was also delivering them from the bondage of slavery.—Exod. 3:8

When they came to enter the promised land, Moses sent spies from the 12 tribes. All the spies reported that it truly was a wonderful land. However, the majority frightened the people with an evil report.—Num. 13:33,34

When two of the spies, Joshua and Caleb, tried to encourage the people to put their trust in God, the people sought to stone them. The Lord became angry and determined that the people were not worthy to enter the land. Instead, they would remain in the wilderness for forty years until that generation, who lacked faith and obedience in God, died off. It would be their children who inherited the promised blessings of the land.—Num. 14:1-35

Forty years later, when the people were gathered near Shittim, God allowed Moses a glimpse of the promised land. Moses would not be permitted to enter because of his personal disobedience. Instead, authority over the nation was turned over to Joshua. Joshua gathered the people to the Jordan River and commanded the priests carrying the ark to cross the raging river. (Josh. 3:1-4) It was harvest time and the river overflowed the banks. Miraculously, the waters were dammed up twenty miles north in the city of Adam. When the priests’ feet touched the waters, the waters dried up and the people crossed on dry land.—Josh. 3:15-17

With this crossing of the Jordan, the Lord pictured mankind crossing into the righteous kingdom ruled by Christ Jesus. Jordan means “judged down” and the overflowing water illustrated the condemnation of death now resting on mankind. The damming of the waters at Adam shows how the curse of death, put upon mankind due to Father Adam’s disobedience, will be stopped by the ransom provided through Jesus’ obedience and sacrifice. (1 Cor. 15:22) The people crossing on dry ground shows us the favorable conditions the Lord will provide for men to enter into his Kingdom and gain everlasting life.

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Manna and Quail

Exactly one month after their departure from Egypt, the children of Israel came into the Wilderness of Sin. They soon grumbled against the Lord as they remembered the bread and meat they ate in Egypt. God responded to their request with manna from heaven and quail in great numbers.

The manna was found on the ground after the nighttime dew evaporated, leaving behind a fine, flake-like thing, fine as the frost on the ground. The cakes made from it tasted like cakes baked with oil. The manna itself was like coriander seed, white, and the taste of it was like wafers made with honey.—Exod. 16:1-36, Num. 11:4-35, English Standard Version

The manna had to be gathered daily before melting in the heat of the sun. It also had to be consumed that same day. None would last until the next morning, except on the day before the Sabbath, when a double portion of manna could be gathered. Then, the manna would keep to the seventh day, the Sabbath. This provision was made because there would be no manna on the ground on the Sabbath, to preserve it as a day of rest for Israel.

The miracle of the manna continued until Israel entered the promised land of Canaan forty years later. Thus, the people were fed throughout their wilderness journey. Jesus describes himself as the bread of life, which came down from heaven, thus identifying himself with the manna. In order to live we have to eat of Jesus’ flesh, which he gave for the life of the world. (John 6:51) This pictures appropriating his atoning merit by faith.

Besides the manna, Israel also clamored for meat. Every evening for a whole month, God used a strong wind from the sea to blow quail to the camp of Israel. The people didn’t appreciate God’s care and blessings and overindulged in eating the quail to God’s displeasure. We, too, can take for granted God’s provision for our feeding during this Gospel Age and grumble for more and different food. Another lesson is not to look back longingly to what we left in Egypt. Instead, we are to rejoice in and appreciate the prospect of entering the heavenly Canaan at the end of our wilderness journey.


The account of Deborah is found in Judges, chapters 4 and 5. Once again, the Israelites did evil in the sight of the Lord. In response, God chastened them by permitting Jabin, king of Canaan, to oppress them. Jabin’s general, Sisera, with an army of 900 iron chariots oppressed Israel severely for 20 years. In response, the Israelites cried out to the Lord for deliverance.

The Lord hearkened to their cries and chose Deborah to deliver them. She was a prophetess. The Hebrew word means prophetess or inspired woman. She discharged all the special duties of a judge and was held in high regard by the people. She was a willing and devoted servant of his people and the Lord used her to rescue Israel. What a lesson here for all of God’s people. To be used in the Lord’s service and to accomplish things for him, full devotion of heart is essential!

By God’s direction, Deborah asked Barak to raise an army of 10,000 men and engage Jabin’s forces under Sisera’s. God assured Barak “I will give him into your hand” and save Israel. (Judges 4:7) Barak asked Deborah to go with him into the battle. She agreed to go with him but told Barak that because of this, the honor of victory would not be his, for the Lord would sell Sisera into the hands of a woman. (verse 9) With that assurance by Deborah of the Lord’s blessing and victory, Barak and his men found courage.

The Lord was faithful. He sent a storm, rendering Sisera’s chariots useless. Then, he threw Sisera’s army into confusion. Broken and routed, the Canaanites fled. Barak and the Israelites pursued them and victory was secured. All the army of Sisera fell by the sword. Not even one was left.—verse 16

Sisera fled away on foot and took refuge in the tent of Jael. After he laid down to rest, Jael took a tent peg and drove the peg into Sisera’s temple, killing him. Jael then showed Barak the man he was pursuing. That day, God subdued Jabin, the king of Canaan, before the sons of Israel and the land was undisturbed for forty years. Just as the Lord delivered Israel from their enemies, we can trust him to ultimately deliver us as well.