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What is the symbolic application for us today of God's historical deliverance of His people from Egypt, their wanderings in the desert, and final entrance into the Promised Land?

Is it accurate to say:

1. The deliverance from Egypt is symbolic of the salvation experience

2. The wandering in the wilderness, and God's dealings with the people during this time is symbolic of our sanctification process

3. Their entering the Promised Land is symbolic of,

 a) our passing from this life to eternal life with Jesus (passing the river Jordan symbolic of our bodily death), or, 

b) being filled (not just indwelt) with the Holy Spirit


I'm particularly interested to know if the second point is accurate. When I read about God's dealings with the people in the wilderness, and how they were prone to complaining, unbelief, idolatry and rebellion, I wonder if it's accurate to put believers in their place (recognizing we still commit these sins in our hearts after salvation), and how God sanctifies us by how He dealt with them. 

For example, is Psalm 78 about the sanctification process, or salvation/lack of salvation?


Is is accurate to assume that the born-again salvation experience isn't symbolized by Israel's deliverance from Egypt, but their entering into the Promised Land, in which case those who perished in the wilderness are NOT saved. If this is the case, I would have to apply the wilderness years in a very different way. 

I hope this is clear enough. 



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OR does Israel represent both unbelievers and believers today?


I believe Israel and the Church are separate, but, of course, the Church began with the apostles who were Jewish. Being born again is becoming a new creation that is neither Greek nor Jew.

1 Corinthians 10 is a good read regarding your question.

Lord Bless,


Thanks Amanda and LT. 

I read 1 Cor. 10, and it does say that the children of Israel are examples for us, but doesn't really say to what extent. I understand that they're example of rebellion is explained there to tell us not to follow in idolatry etc. like they did. 

Maybe that's the extent of their example for Christians- to teach us that sin is serious, and to flee from idolatry. 

So is that the extent of their example for us?

Maybe I'm just not meant to get an answer to this yet. I have been trying to understand for a couple of years, and still don't get how I'm supposed to apply the OT Israelites to my Christian walk. 

Egypt is the picture of bondage. Forced to labor for Pharaoh. God sent Moses to deliver them. - Satan enslaves us & we're in bondage. 

Israel was powerless to save themselves. God had to send a deliverer with signs & wonders to set them free.

Delivered by blood. Placed lamb's blood on the doorframe for the death angel to pass over the homes. If not there, the firstborn died. - The blood of the Lamb sacrificed

Upon leaving, they left w/gold, silver, & rich fabrics from the Egyptians. In Christ, Satan has been spoiled & we have all the spiritual blessings - the gold, etc.

Huge cloud led them. At night it was a pillar of fire. - The Holy Spirit that leads us.

Could have crossed into the Promised Land in 40 days but took 40 years. Due to their disobedience, idolatry, lack of faith, & rebellious attitudes. Wondering around in an aimless life of carnality.

1 Co 10:5-11

 But with most of them God was not well pleased, for their bodies were scattered in the wilderness.

Now these things became our examples, to the intent that we should not lust after evil things as they also lusted. And do not become idolaters as were some of them. As it is written, “The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play.” Nor let us commit sexual immorality, as some of them did, and in one day twenty-three thousand fell; nor let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed by serpents; 10 nor complain, as some of them also complained, and were destroyed by the destroyer. 11 Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come.

God made a covenant with them. Jesus is our covenant. 

God provided them water from a rock, manna from heaven & quail. 1 Cor 10:4  and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ.

Those who entered, entered by faith. Those that were dead & scattered in the desert were the ones that believed the report of the 10 spies instead of Joshua & Caleb. We enter in the covenant by faith.

Flowing with milk & honey - A picture of our eternity home

The land was promised but it still had to be possessed. Large giants had to be driven out. Our walk in Christ will always involve a fight. We fight to lay hold of our inheritance. Just because it's promised don't mean it will be easy. He 6:12 says through faith & patience we inherit God's promises. 

Be strong & courageous. This was told to Joshua many many times. We, too, should heed these same words. Like a soldier prepared for battle at all times.

Live by faith by God's Word. Joshua's courage would be meditating in God's Word.

Walk in the Spirit. Spirit vs flesh. Flesh is your wants. Spirit is God's wants. Deal with sin quickly & not allow them to cause you to wander. 

I also researched the staff because I was thinking this surely must have some significance with Moses. The staff signifies power, support, Moses' vocation as a shepherd. God took his vocation & performed miracles thru it. It comes from the Hebrew word Matteh which equates to spiritual power. God turned his source of income to represent power & authority of God. But, first, Moses had to lay it down. He laid down that which represented his life (flesh) to pick it up changed.

Why did God turn it into a snake? When it did, Moses fled. Giving up his livelihood & taking up the work of God would present him with many dangers. The serpent has been a constant enemy since Creation. It represented Satan. Thru this staff, the Israelites would believe that Jehovah, God of the Fathers, had appeared to Moses. 

Moses' staff would be the instrument of transformation for God's people. From slavery to freedom. In the battle with the Amalekites, when his arms & staff were raised, the Israelites would win. When they would drop, they would begin to lose. When we raise our staffs to the Lord, He becomes our protector, our Defender, & our Victor.

This journey represents the life of a person & if they turn to Christ they have an inheritance with Him. Many will walk in circles & take them 40 years to reach a destination that could be reached in 40 days. Many will never reach it but will fall. 

Thanks so much Tammy. Lots here I never thought of before. 

Is it true that those who fell in the wilderness will not be in heaven? If we carry through the analogy below, it would seem to be that yes they will be in heaven.

If the analogy goes like this:

Bondage to Pharaoh = bondage to sin/satan

Moses, a deliverer = Jesus, our Deliverer

Saved through blood of a lamb = saved by the blood of THE Lamb

Left with gold etc = In Christ, Satan has been spoiled & we have all the spiritual blessings

Cloud/Pillar of fire led them = The Holy Spirit that leads us


*then to continue with the analogy, the wandering in the desert would have to represent the sanctification process (because they've already been delivered from the bondage of Pharaoh (sin), saved by the blood of a lamb (saved by Jesus' death). So to then continue on this track in the analogy:

Wandered 40 years because of unbelief = our sanctification process is often slower because of unbelief

Wandering in an aimless life of carnality = not reckoning ourself dead to sin and alive in Christ

Carrying the analogy through like this makes me think that their wandering in the desert has much to teach the Christian about the sanctification process, and that that's the example for us. It's not an analogy of saved vs. unsaved, because they had all been delivered from bondage by their deliverer and the blood. Their main problem was that they weren't believing what was already true about them (so they wandered 40 years instead of entering the promised land in the most direct route). 

Therefore, their journey from the point of deliverance from Egypt to their entering Canaan is an example for us not about how to get saved, but about the Christian walk post-salvation (sanctification). 

And our analogy would lead us to this understanding:

Those who fell in the wilderness = Christians who are not victorious in this life (allowing the Holy Spirit to enable them to live a victorious life in the Spirit) because of unbelief. They're saved, but just pitiful examples of the full life offered us in Christ. 

Is this accurate? 

I feel like if I can finally get this settled, I'll know how to properly read and apply the OT. 

Thanks anyone for help with this!

Everything sounds right to me sis. Several things you've said I had not thought of either. Thank you


It is a clear picture that we are not saved by works. The reason some were not allowed to enter was simply due to unbelief. Works do not save. All those sacrifices, all those efforts were all in vain. They did not believe. I have been in discussion with some over the recent movements of our support of Israel which is a good thing but something about which we must be careful. Many are saying that we all serve the same God. Is that really the case? Of course it isn't. While we pray that the Jews will accept the Lord God of Israel, to this day they still reject Him. Their God stood before them 2,000 years ago and they killed Him. This is our God and the true God of Israel. There is no other. Why do so many say that we all serve the same God. Some even go as far as to say that we, the Jews and Muslims all serve the same God. This is simple unbelief. There is only one God. That is our faith. Anything other than that is unbelief. 

There are so many that really do not believe in the true God. We know Him as Father, Son and Holy Spirit. There is no division and there is no acceptance of one part of the Godhead without full acceptance. This is our God. Believe on Him and we will be saved. Reject Him and we will be lost due to unbelief. 

Food for thought.

Thanks Roy, 

So if I understand, you're saying that those who didn't enter the promised land (because of unbelief) are an example to us of unbelievers, rather than believers who come short of the full life available in Christ?

I see it several ways Jenny & not sure about which is correct. It's possible it is unbelievers just from the fact of them not going to the Promised Land - heaven. However, it could also be the other as we discussed. They were delivered from bondage but walked in their carnality. So, I think it cold be either. I'd love to hear LT's take on it.

It seems the same to me- that it could be either. 

And I feel like how can I read about the Israelites and understand what God is trying to teach us for today if I don't know the answer to this question?

There are things in our walk that we CAN know. We are not going to know every answer to every question.  The Word says "Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been His counselor?"  There are many things that as we continue to study & walk with Him that is revealed to us more & more but there will still be those things that we will never know. 

What we do know is it's by grace that we are saved. His grace alone has saved us. Nothing we do or could ever do can save us.  We are filled with His Holy Spirit who leads us & guides us in our walk with Him. He convicts us of our wrong doings & shows us through His Word how to live. He also shows us through other people's lives how we should live. How we walk shows our relationship with Him. It shows if we're really in Him & He in us. Caleb and Joshua showed their walk. They were ready to take on anything. They said Yea, let's do this. We got this because they knew Who would fight for them. They had the faith to move mountains. Like David when he came up against the giant Goliath. He said he came in the Name of the Lord. How could he lose?

Paul has the answer here for the both of us. 

Hebrews 3:17 says:  Now with whom was He angry forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose corpses fell in the wilderness?  And to whom did He swear that they would not enter His rest, but to those who did not obey?

Hebrews 3:19 says: So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief.

Hebrews 4:1-3 says: Therefore, since a promise remains of entering His rest, let us fear lest any of you seem to have come short of it. For indeed the gospel was preached to us as well as to them; but the word which they heard did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in those who heard it. 

For we who have believed do enter that rest, as He has said:

“So I swore in My wrath,
‘They shall not enter My rest,’”

They couldn't escape that mentality of slavery. They kept reverting back to how it was there. Even though they seen crazy miracles & were very joyful when leaving, they would soon forget. 

So, what I'm getting from looking deeper into it is these people, the chosen ones of God, could have experienced the Promised Land that flowed with milk & honey. Instead, they chose the death sentence of a life of wandering for 40 years, walking around in circles. The journey of a 40-day walk took them 40 years to accomplish and they still didn't accomplish anything except to be buried in an unknown grave. A beautiful home promised to them became a homeless wandering in a barren desert. They had to battle enemies during this time because of their sins. So, instead of following the faithful powerful men of God such as Moses, Joshua & Caleb, they chose to live life grumbling, complaining, & stressing.

It's also an example of those who are now part of His kingdom. Although the end will be the Promised Land flowing with milk & honey, it doesn't mean it's going to be a cake walk. We have to go in & possess it & fight for it. There will be battle scars but the end result is to see the glory of the Lord for ourselves. 

Thank you so much for posting this. This has been great studying this. I don't think I had even thought of it in these terms before & you have opened my eyes to an incredible lesson from the Lord. I love you dear sister.


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