Dwelling on the Past – What Is Your Egypt?

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There are a lot of people out there who have undoubtedly been through difficult times and have had hurtful pasts. What we do with what has happened to us in the past can affect our future in ways that we don’t even know. Dwelling on the past will only keep you stuck where you are, never moving forward in all the blessings God has waiting for you.

There was once a group of weary travelers wandering in the wilderness who also had trouble letting go of the past and kept looking back at Egypt!

It’s time for us to break free from the chains of our pasts and move forward into a new life, one full of hope and joy! It’s not easy but it is possible with God’s help.
So what is your Egypt? How does dwelling on your past affect your present? Read on to learn how to move on from Egypt to YOUR promised land.

An image of the sphynx in Egypt and text that says Dwelling on the Past - What is Your Egyot

Updated and republished from original date of October 19, 2019

Dwelling on the Past – The Children of Israel

In Exodus 16 we read the account of Moses and the children of Israel entering the wilderness after they had been out of Egypt for approximately 2 months, although some commentators say it was one month (see Rashi below).

We read in Exodus 16:2

“But the WHOLE congregation of Bnei-Yisrael murmured against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness.

tlv (emphasis mine)

According to Rashi who was preeminent medieval French commentator on the Bible and on the Talmud, “it was not until the fifteenth of Iyar, a month after the Exodus, that the nation complained about the lack of food. Until then they subsisted on the leftovers of the dough and matzah they had taken out of Egypt.” (Rashi)

Rambam (Maimonides (1138–1204), who was commonly referred to as Rambam) says that even though Israel has been in the wilderness and we have already been told this, it is mentioned again in this verse to demonstrate that the vastness of the wilderness around them is what made them fear finding food.

Or HaChaim, a classical commentary on the Chumash (a printed form of the Torah used for study), states “because of this desolate, non-direct route that had been chosen apparently by Moses was what frightened them.”

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So it appears that there is a agreement that the issue at hand was fear that this vast wilderness Moses had led them into seemed SO big and SO desolate that they could not envision finding food.

Has the vastness of your past seemed too big to overcome? The words of someone, the abuse, the illness, the addiction…as it all seemed too vast to find hope in?

We let’s continue to see what Israel did in Torah.

Then they said to Moses and Aaron in verse 3

The Israelites said to them, “If only we had died by the Lord’s hand in Egypt! There we sat around pots of meat and ate all the food we wanted, but you have brought us out into this desert to starve this entire assembly to death.”


Ok I get it! I have been hangry a time or two so I can only imagine how they must have felt after trekking through the wilderness without food. But let’s have a good look at this.

They had been slaves. They were mistreated, beaten, forced to work hard labor with little food and little rest. Their own children were also slaves and forced to work.

This was a BAD situation they had been freed from. REALLY bad!

And yet, because they were experiencing hardship in the NOW, they forgot what life had been like in Egypt and somehow felt it would be better to have DIED there than go through the hunger they were experiencing now.

They let their fear get the best of them and allowed it to make them to begin dwelling on the past and miss what God was doing in the NOW.

To paraphrase Pastor Tony Evans and Chrystal Evans Hurst in their book, Kingdom Woman, God may have delivered the Israelites from Egypt but Egypt hadn’t been delivered from the Israelites!

Dwelling on the Past – Does This Story Sound Familiar?

We sometimes do the same thing? Albeit our circumstances aren’t usually quite as bad as being former slaves trekking through the desert for 2 months while feeling like you are starving but we often have situations we have left behind us that, as soon as things get tough, we look back at and long for it..

Maybe it was a relationship that was abusive.

Maybe it was a boss that made your life miserable.

Maybe it was even a life of sin.

Yes, sometimes we even look longingly back at our life before Yeshua and wonder if we hadn’t been better off! I think if you’ve been a believer for more than 5 minutes you’ve done this!

After all, the enemy left us alone then! We didn’t go through spiritual attacks

We focus on our feelings at the moment rather than long-term gain and begin dwelling on the past we should have left behind!

Sound familiar?

An image of the desert with Exodus 16:2 quoted - How to Stop Dwelling on the Past

Blinded by Time and Distance

Time and distance can sometimes blind us to how bad things were for us before. 

It can make us forget how bad that boss was. It can make us forget how damaging that relationship was and wonder if we should believe the person’s changed and we should take them back.

It can make us forget how we were lost to sin.

We focus on the hardships we have now – in THIS moment!

We murmur and complain like the children of Israel did.

The things we pray for, we all of a sudden despise because receiving them came with discomfort!

Sometimes the very things we pray for, we all of a sudden despise because receiving them came with discomfort! Click To Tweet

Dwelling on the Past – So, What is your Egypt?

So my friend, what is the Egypt in YOUR life?

What is that thing you keep looking back at? Is there something that keeps you dwelling on the past?

What is that thing you sometimes long for when things get tough?

Find it and then sink that ship!! Don’t look back!

Wait, what? Sink the ship?

Sink the Ships

Hernan Cortes, so the story goes, brought his men on shore to fight a battle they could very well lose. He knew the risk. He knew the ships were there on shore and if the battle got tough the men could flee.  He wanted them committed. It was fight or die but fleeing was not going to be an option.

So he sunk the ships. Some accounts say he burned them but it seems as though sinking them was the most likely account. Either way, they were there to stay.

When the enemy rears his ugly head and life gets tough, sink the ships.

When that job makes you wonder if you hadn’t been better off at your old one, sink the ships.

When you wonder if the pain and hurt from that relationship was better than being alone, sink the ships.

Don’t look back to your Egypt. Stop dwelling on the past! Don’t LIVE there! Don’t murmur or complain but keep moving forward. Focus on the present!

The murmuring and complaining and the rebellion against God and Moses (see how Miriam was give tzara’at or what people sometimes translate as leprosy, for speaking out against Moses with Aaron in Numbers 12) kept the children of Israel in the wilderness for 40 years when it was a trip that should have taken just weeks.

Don’t keep walking around that mountain when you could be moving forward to your promised land.  Trust God with your destination!

When the enemy rears his ugly head and life gets tough…sink the ships. Click To Tweet

Tree of Life (TLV) – Scripture taken from the Holy Scriptures, Tree of Life Version*. Copyright © 2014,2016 by the Tree of Life Bible Society.  Used by permission of the Tree of Life Bible Society.


  1. Living in the past is so dangerous. It keeps us stuck. I’ve learned to let go of some things, but others take more time. The people who can let go of looking back and thinking “what if” are the ones who are most successful. Learning from our past mistakes is the only way to stop making them!

    1. It is tough for sure…I know it is a constant battle for me because the enemy likes to throw the past in our faces a lot!

  2. What a great analogy — I’d never applied the Israelites story to my own life before! But yes, I have frequently hesitated to move forward due to fear and lack of faith.

  3. Oh, this hits me deep. I have a tendency to bring bad decisions from the past back up. I can be so judgemental of myself. But, I remind myself that I am wiped CLEAN and I can FORWARD in victory. Thank you for this reminder. Out of Egypt I go!!

  4. My small group is going through the book, “Lord, Change My Attitude” and the author was talking about this very account and the murmuring and complaining the Israelites were doing, Diane. So I’m resonating with what you’re saying here. It’s so easy to get in that place of negativity, but it’s a total insult to the Lord. Like you and Hernan have said, “Better to sink the ships!” Otherwise the Enemy will have a field day with us! Thanks for this encouragement! Found you at Lori’s linkup!

    1. Amen Beth…and I share these things because I myself struggle with them. It’s not easy to face the enemy as he dredges up past faults and refuse to look back at them!! Thank you!!

  5. Managed to find my way to your on-line home twice this morning and have been blessed both times. Forgiving ourselves and others is crucial for enjoying today moving forward. Thanks for these encouraging words! Blessings!

  6. I’m so blessed that the Lord led me here through the #GraceandTruth linkup. Just this morning the Lord has been asking me to fix my eyes ahead and commit to the path that HE has set before me. It’s so tempting to look back and to feel so inadequate for the journey. But He does call us forward, and wants to be our true Helper. Thank you so much for these words today.

  7. This is an awesome reminder. It is easy to look back sometimes especially on moments I remember with fondness, but God doesn’t operate back there. He’s not changing the past nor is He sending me back there. Love this ?

  8. When I think of “the past” – I often think of Satan using it to shame me. The past can haunt me. But, how true, that we can even be lured by the past…especially faulty images of it. Whether good (I can long for the good times, too), shameful or skewed – the past needs to be the past. Thanks for a different look at a familiar topic and story. I enjoy a post that makes me think/rethink!

    1. I am glad you enjoyed it Jennifer. And you’re absolutely right! Satan loves to use the past to make us keep reliving things Jesus already took care of!

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