When in flight, an airplane is typically off course 90 percent of the time. However, commercial planes are equipped with a Global Positioning System (GPS) to keep them on the course. Every plane’s system is always making mid-air corrections to adjust to wind currents, updrafts and downdrafts, and other planes in their airspace so they can get back on course.
God also has a GPS. On autumn nights as we sleep peacefully in our beds, millions of songbirds are quietly traveling under darkness, heading south for warmer climates.
Take the Orioles, for example. Every fall they pack their bags, close up their homes, and head south. The weather patterns tell the birds it is time to move. “As cold fronts move across eastern North America,” one expert writes, “they’re sending waves of Orioles, along with warblers and other songbirds, on their way to wintering grounds in Mexico and Latin America.”
As cold fronts pass, clear skies and north winds usually follow and these conditions are ideal for migration, allowing the birds to travel with no risk of storms, the wind at their backs, and a clear view of the stars to help them find their way.
They fly over thousands of houses, highways, shopping centers, and parking lots, passing state after state. If a particular Oriole opts for a direct flight home, it will fly over the Gulf of Mexico in a single night, crossing six hundred miles of open water. The trip to Mexico, Panama, or Costa Rica takes about two weeks.
But the oriole knows exactly where it is going. God planted within its brain a perfect guidance system that tells it exactly where to go, and when, and how.
The people of Israel would have enjoyed an internal GPS. But God had other plans. God taught the people to trust him in the journey. God would provide necessary training for the needs of the Promised Land when they arrived. So, as a part of the first global positioning system for the Israelites, Numbers Chapter 9-12 provides the marching orders to avoid drifting off course.
Are you using God’s GPS in your life?
Holman Old Testament Commentary