At the Lord’s command Moses recorded the stages in their journey. This is their journey by stages (Numbers 33:2 NIV).
Any journey has many stages; especially the journey of life. But is there any significance to recording the stages of that journey? There has to be; otherwise God might not have asked Moses to do so. It would be good to attempt to understand the reasons behind this command.
First of all this recording occurs at a significant stage of their journey. Their wilderness wanderings were about to be over. They were making final preparations to enter the Promise Land. There was going to be a new beginning. But before it could happen, God wanted His people to mediate on the stages that had gone before.
Secondly, these stages do record moments of their disobedience and failure. They had rebelled and murmured against God at many stages recorded here. It seems that God wanted His people to be reminded of their faithlessness in following Him.
Thirdly, many stages recorded here are places where God had provided for His people in remarkable ways. Now as they were making preparations to enter the Promised Land, God wanted His people to remember that He will still be a Providing God to them.
Most significantly, we need to remember that each stage of this journey began and ended at God’s command. Only when the cloud (signifying God’s presence among them) would lift from above the Tent of Meeting did the people set out; and when it settled, they camped again. It teaches us to always seek God’s will in all the beginnings and endings of life. It also challenges us to make God a part of all our decisions in life. Thus the stages of a journey teach us important lessons of our relationship with God in the walk of life and faith!