The Story of Patriarchs and Prophets
by Ellen G. White
Chapter 33: From Sinai to Kadesh
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A distance of only eleven days' journey lay between Sinai and
Kadesh, on the borders of Canaan; and it was with the prospect
of speedily entering the goodly land that the hosts of Israel
resumed their march when the cloud at last gave the signal for an
onward movement. Jehovah had wrought wonders in bringing
them from Egypt, and what blessings might they not expect now
that they had formally covenanted to accept Him as their Sovereign,
and had been acknowledged as the chosen people of the
Yet it was almost with reluctance that many left the place
where they had so long encamped. They had come almost to
regard it as their home. Within the shelter of those granite walls [p. 377] God had gathered His people, apart from all other nations, to
repeat to them His holy law. They loved to look upon the sacred
mount, on whose hoary peaks and barren ridges the divine glory
had so often been displayed. The scene was so closely associated
with the presence of God and holy angels that it seemed too
sacred to be left thoughtlessly, or even gladly.
At the signal from the trumpeters, however, the entire camp
set forward, the tabernacle borne in the midst, and each tribe in
its appointed position, under its own standard. All eyes were
turned anxiously to see in what direction the cloud would lead.
As it moved toward the east, where were only mountain masses
huddled together, black and desolate, a feeling of sadness and
doubt arose in many hearts.
As they advanced, the way became more difficult. Their route
lay through stony ravine and barren waste. All around them was
the great wilderness—"a land of deserts and of pits," "a land of
drought, and of the shadow of death," "a land that no man passed
through, and where no man dwelt." Jeremiah 2:6. The rocky
gorges, far and near, were thronged with men, women, and
children, with beasts and wagons, and long lines of flocks and
herds. Their progress was necessarily slow and toilsome; and the
multitudes, after their long encampment, were not prepared to
endure the perils and discomforts of the way.
After three days' journey open complaints were heard. These
originated with the mixed multitude, many of whom were not
fully united with Israel, and were continually watching for some
cause of censure. The complainers were not pleased with the
direction of the march, and they were continually finding fault
with the way in which Moses was leading them, though they
well knew that he, as well as they, was following the guiding
cloud. Dissatisfaction is contagious, and it soon spread in the
Again they began to clamor for flesh to eat. Though
abundantly supplied with manna, they were not satisfied. The Israelites,
during their bondage in Egypt, had been compelled to
subsist on the plainest and simplest food; but then keen appetite
induced by privation and hard labor had made it palatable.
Many of the Egyptians, however, who were now among them,
had been accustomed to a luxurious diet; and these were the [p. 378] first to complain. At the giving of the manna, just before Israel
reached Sinai, the Lord had granted them flesh in answer to
their clamors; but it was furnished them for only one day.
God might as easily have provided them with flesh as with
manna, but a restriction was placed upon them for their good.
It was His purpose to supply them with food better suited to
their wants than the feverish diet to which many had become
accustomed in Egypt. The perverted appetite was to be brought
into a more healthy state, that they might enjoy the food originally
provided for man—the fruits of the earth, which God gave
to Adam and Eve in Eden. It was for this reason that the Israelites
had been deprived, in a great measure, of animal food.
Satan tempted them to regard this restriction as unjust and
cruel. He caused them to lust after forbidden things, because he
saw that the unrestrained indulgence of appetite would tend to
produce sensuality, and by this means the people could be more
easily brought under his control. The author of disease and
misery will assail men where he can have the greatest success.
Through temptations addressed to the appetite he has, to a large
extent, led men into sin from the time when he induced Eve
to eat of the forbidden fruit. It was by this same means that he
led Israel to murmur against God. Intemperance in eating and
drinking, leading as it does to the indulgence of the lower
passions, prepares the way for men to disregard all moral obligations.
When assailed by temptation, they have little power of
God brought the Israelites from Egypt, that He might establish
them in the land of Canaan, a pure, holy, and happy people. In
the accomplishment of this object He subjected them to a course
of discipline, both for their own good and for the good of their
posterity. Had they been willing to deny appetite, in obedience
to His wise restrictions, feebleness and disease would have been
unknown among them. Their descendants would have possessed
both physical and mental strength. They would have had clear
perceptions of truth and duty, keen discrimination, and sound
judgment. But their unwillingness to submit to the restrictions
and requirements of God, prevented them, to a great extent,
from reaching the high standard which He desired them to
attain, and from receiving the blessings which He was ready to
bestow upon them. [p. 379]
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