Probably not a few Israelites wandering for 40 years in the desert wondered how it was they got there. Maybe even Moses was asking how he had got himself into the long trek to nowhere. None of them could have been a happy camper. The majority were circling the desert until they died off. The generation under 20 years of age had to pass the best years of their lives in a waiting game.
How did the chosen people of Israel come to a full stop? More importantly, what did the 40-year-pause mean for the plan of God? And how might the young generation remember they were God’s special people in the midst of the nations? Perhaps to that end Moses writes.
Most stories are best told from the beginning. The plans and dreams of God could be established by showing how all was created, the perfect state that man enjoyed, the relationship that he sustained to God in the garden, the horrible choice to disobey, the divine plan that had been formulated before the first material object came into being, now put into action.
Moses knows that the past is prologue to the future. A people with a forgotten past have no prospect of hope for better days. What meaning to give to the seemingly senseless years in the desert?
As the evening fires cloud the air with smoke and the sounds of the people in their nightly routines registers in his ears, Moses picks up his writing instrument to explain how all that happened before led to this moment in time, and how the people might have an idea of what the future will hold, past the next day’s journey.
“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”