On the threshold of the Promised Land, disaster strikes. Hardened with unbelief and the fear of the Canaanites, the Israelites refuse to go on. Moses, Aaron, Joshua, and Caleb, who try to persuade the people of God’s faithfulness, face a lynching. Just as the tension and turmoil are as great as they’ve ever been on this people’s faithless and complaining journey out of Egypt and into Canaan, the glory of the Lord roars into the camp, and He pronounces their doom: they will wander aimlessly in the wilderness for 40 years; all Israelites aged 20 and up (save the faithful few) will die within that time; the children whom they thought would be prey to the Canaanites will inherit the land (Num. 14).
Moses, the man of God, now leads a people whose sole expectation for the next 40 years is to litter the desert with their corpses. Heartsick with deferred hope, he prays. What does one pray—can one pray—at a time like this?
A Prayer of Moses the Man of God
Lord, thou hast been our dwelling place in all generations. Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever thou hadst formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God.
(Ps. 90:1–2, KJV)