The scriptures teach us that the things that happened to the children of Israel are types and shadows or examples for us to learn from. Their life under Egyptian bondage is a type which represents the bondage of sin that is experienced in this world. The Passover lamb, by which they were set free from Egypt is a type representative of Christ Jesus our Passover deliverer and liberator.
1 Corinthians 5
7 … For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us.
Contrary to popular teachings, the land of Canaan was not a type representative of heaven. Not at all. It could not be, because in Canaan they were surrounded by their enemies. In heaven, there will be no enemies to threaten or challenge us. The land of Canaan is therefore a type which is representative of our inheritance in Christ, of our baptism in the Holy Spirit, of our healing and blessings enshrined in the new covenant which is in Christ.
1 Corinthians 10 (NKJV)
1 Moreover, brethren, I do not want you to be unaware that all our fathers were under the cloud, all passed through the sea,
2 all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea,
3 all ate the same spiritual food,
4 and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ.
5 But with most of them God was not well pleased, for their bodies were scattered in the wilderness.
6 Now these things became our examples, to the intent that we should not lust after evil things as they also lusted.
7 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.”
8 Nor let us commit sexual immorality, as some of them did, and in one day twenty-three thousand fell;
9 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.
When the Israelites left Egypt bound for the promised land of Canaan, there were about 3 million people. God intended to bring them all to Canaan. However, for them to live prosperously in the Promised Land, flowing with milk and honey, they had to learn God’s ways and abandon their old ways of living and doing things. It is worthy of note, that the land did not simply become a land of abundance just by them getting and settling there. In the same land, at different times after they had possessed it, they encountered famine, pestilence and other destructive conditions. It only lived up to its promise as a land of milk and honey, because they kept the covenant and followed God’s ways.
Consequently, God led them through the longer route to the Promised Land so they could learn His ways. They were led and guided by a pillar of cloud by day and one of fire by night. This is so typical of the way we are led by the Spirit today. Do you find yourself facing problems even when you are following God’s leading? This too was their experience. God led them through different and difficult places deliberately. He knew exactly what he was doing. Their job was simply to trust and believe Him and walk in His ways. However, that was not what they did. They griped, complained and were flat out disobedient.