Most governments recognize age 18 as the age of legal adulthood at which a person assumes full responsibility for his/her life. They no longer need a parent or guardian’s permission for anything. They can vote and are held fully accountable for any debts they may accrue or crimes they may commit. But, in truth, the process of becoming an adult is much more than reaching a particular age, it is a process of maturation. From a childhood of being taken care of through an adolescence of questioning and, sometimes, rebellion, a person not only develops an identity, but also the ability to understand and follow the rules of society.

Some Bible commentators view the history of the Jewish nation metaphorically as the process of maturation. The Children of Israel were delivered through the miracles of the Exodus. In the Wilderness, all of their basic needs – food, clothing and shelter – were met. But, like many adolescents, they also struggled through periods of questioning and rebellion. Continuing the metaphor, entering the Land of Israel was the beginning of adulthood. They would no longer be sustained through miracles, such as the manna (heaven-sent food), and they would have to live by the rules that were set down for them in the Torah.

In Deuteronomy, Moses, speaking to the Jewish people, declared:
You shall not test the Lord your God… You shall diligently keep the commandments of the Lord your God, and His testimonies, and His statutes, which He has commanded you. And you shall do that which is right and good in the sight of the Lord; that it may be well with you, and that you may go in and possess the good land which the Lord swore to your fathers (Deuteronomy 6:16-18).

The first verse of this statement, “You shall not test the Lord,” is like a declaration from Moses that the time has come to accept adulthood. No more rebellion. There is a proper way of addressing God, and there is a right path and a wrong path, and it is now time for the Children of Israel to grow up and become the Nation of Israel.

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