Having left Egypt, the story of God’s people was not nearly finished. God had already promised Abraham and his descendants a new land. They would leave slavery and enter into a land flowing with milk and honey.
The time from the former to the latter could’ve been shorter, but the people feared more than they trusted. Moving into the promised land would not be easy for their were enemies of God in the land and they were strong. This created doubt and fear and people even wished they could turn back. This reluctance to follow where God would lead–even though he had just given them freedom from and victory over the great power of Egypt–led to a time of wandering. Forty years passed before they entered the promised land. It was a place of grace, for they reaped the harvest of another’s work. They did not earn or deserve the blessing. It is just as we receive the blessings of Jesus, one who has done all the work for us.