After YHVH had moved by His mighty arm and brought His people out of Egypt, He immediately established kingdom rule over His nation. YHVH was going to be to them everything that they would need to make the journey. "I will be what I will be" said the blazing bush to Moses. Elohim then revealed Himself through the power of Moses' rod and the cloud by day and the fire by night, which would lead them through the entire journey. He was the wind that divided the Reed Sea and dried up the ground, He was the manna, the water from the rock as well as the rock, the fire on Mount Sinai, the voice that spoke like thunder, the finger that wrote the Ten Words on stone. He gave them a flawless judicial system that contained statutes, laws and ordinances for the community life of the nation, and for individual and family life. He also granted them their identity, along with their birthrights as a firstborn nation. But even more importantly, because of their propensity to iniquity as fallen Man, He became a tabernacle in which they could experience His love, mercy, compassion and power to forgive. The tabernacle was also an outward manifestation of a heavenly reality that YHVH would reveal in the future through His Son and our Messiah (see Hebrews chapter 9).
The apostle Paul makes reference to the importance of this period of Israelite history, as it is not only an example of spiritual realities, but it is also applicable to the restoration of the House of Judah and House of Joseph/Ephraim: "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" (1 Corinthians 10:11). By using the example of our forefathers, the apostle is showing us that our unity as a single nation is based on the statements: "For I do not want you to be unaware, brethren, that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea; and all ate the same spiritual food; and all drank the same spiritual drink, for they were drinking from a spiritual rock which followed them; and the rock was the Anointed One" (1 Corinthians 10:1-4). There are many proto types and pre-figurations which are gleaned from the wilderness journey, but in order to remain a united entity, with YHVH ruling as king over them, the basic foundational lesson that this nation had to learn was to "listen, remember and act" - in one word "obedience" to YHVH's kingdom rule.
"All the commandments that I am commanding you today you shall be careful to do, that you may live and multiply, and go in and possess the land which YHVH swore to give to your forefathers. And you shall remember all the way which YHVH your Elohim has led you in the wilderness these forty years, that He might humble you, testing you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not. And He humbled you… that He might make you understand that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by everything that proceeds out of the mouth of YHVH… Thus you are to know in your heart that YHVH your Elohim was disciplining you just as a man disciplines his son" (Deuteronomy 8:1-3, 5).
The New Covenant writers did not depart from these statements, and reiterated to the redeemed remnant that YHVH required "obedience" to His Word. Stephen, one of the first martyrs of the faith, gave a complete run down of our forefathers' testimony and declared, "and our fathers were unwilling to be obedient to him [Moses], but repudiated him and in their hearts turned back to Egypt" (Acts 7:39). Paul too, writing to a community of believers who were tolerating immorality after being redeemed and brought out of that "cosmos" says: "For to this end also I wrote that I might put you to the test, whether you are obedient in all things" (2 Corinthians 2:9). Some of the "all things" are found in his letter to the believers in Colossia: "Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an feast day, or of the new moon, or of the Sabbath days: Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body of Messiah" (Colossians 2:16). Paul is telling the body of Messiah that they are to judge in these matters because the food restrictions, feast days, new moons and Sabbaths (not only the weekly ones) are prophetic of things yet to come, and therefore are to be kept according to the Word of Elohim.
The writer to the redeemed Hebrews, using an example of their forefathers in the wilderness says: "Do not harden your hearts as when they provoked Me, as in the day of trial in the wilderness" (Hebrews 3:8). This was a warning against "unbelief", which the apostle equates with disobedience that resulted in being prevented, by death in the wilderness, from entering YHVH's "rest" and inheritance.
Elohim's words, through Moses and the rest of the prophets, are still speaking to us today, and we would do well to pay close attention to them as there are consequences to disobedience: "As it is written in the Torah of Moses, all this calamity has come on us; yet we have not sought the favor of YHVH our Elohim by turning from our iniquity and giving attention to Your truth" (Daniel 9:13). "And so we have the prophetic word made more sure, to which you do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts" (2 Peter 1:19). "For this reason we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it" (Hebrews 2:1).
On a more positive note, YHVH declared through the prophet Isaiah the potential benefits "if only you had paid attention to My commandments! Then your well-being would have been like a river and your righteousness like the waves of the sea" (Isaiah 48:18). Regrettably, today many are falling into the same old behavior patterns that are described by Zechariah: "But they refused to heed, shrugged their shoulders, and stopped their ears so that they could not hear. Yes, they made their hearts like flint, refusing to hear the Torah and the words which YHVH of hosts had sent by His Spirit through the former prophets. Thus great wrath came from YHVH of hosts" (Zechariah 7:11-12).
YHVH exhorts us to learn from the wilderness journey of our forefathers, and while we are on our own voyage, "remember the Torah of Moses My servant, even the statutes and ordinances which I commanded him in Horeb for all Israel… lest I come and smite the land with a curse!" (Malachi 4: 4; 6b).