Exodus 15:22 – 19:2. The Israelites are finally free, but that doesn’t mean that their troubles are over.
Exodus 15:22 – 19:2. The Israelites are finally free, but that doesn’t mean that their troubles are over.
“Papa’s Bible Stories” brings the Bible to life for your kids. For each episode, I pick a Bible story to talk to my very own kids about. The stories are entirely Bible-based, scripture is quoted at every opportunity, and the kids are always pointed to the Bible as the authority. And we’re not afraid of having a little fun too! It is my hope and prayer that your kids will be excited to explore God’s Word for themselves after hearing each and every episode. #bible #stories #kids #children #adventist #sda
So last we left the Israelites, they had just been rescued from the Egyptians. The Egyptians had chased the Israelites through the desert, and when they caught up with the Israelites, God parted the Red Sea so that the Israelites could escape. And when the Egyptians followed the Israelites into the sea, God allowed the waters to come crashing down on the Egyptians. The children of Israel had been saved. And they danced for joy for all the wonderful and incredible miracles that God had done for them. God was with them…and what could possibly stand in their way now?
And so, the Israelites confidently continued on their journey, following the cloud that had been leading them (though…they had to admit that the cloud was leading them the long way to the Promised Land). And the Bible says, “So Moses brought Israel from the Red Sea; then they went out into the Wilderness of Shur.” (15:22) But they weren’t even 3 days out when they already started to run into trouble…they had run out of water. Yah…ya know…that stuff that you need to drink every day? Yah…wouldn’t you know it…there wasn’t much of it in the dessert. Well thankfully they didn’t have to go thirsty for too too long because they came to a place called Marah…and did indeed have some water. Whew…that was close! But when the first person took a sip of the water …yuck…the water was dirty and gross. And the Bible says, “they could not drink the waters of Marah, for they were bitter.” (15:23)
Now, the Israelites were quite taken aback by this. Why were they having this trouble? God had just parted the Red Sea for them and defeated the Egyptian army…why was God letting them run out of water? Had they gone through all this craziness and come all this way just to die of thirst in the desert? So the Israelites, a bit confused, went to Moses and complained, and said, “What shall we drink?” (15:23) And…just like every other time that the Israelites complained to Moses…Moses took it to God. And the Bible says that Moses, “cried out to the LORD” (15:25) And God of course answered Moses, and showed Moses that there was a tree nearby that, when it was thrown into the water, would make the water drinkable. And so that’s what Moses did, and…the Bible says that, “When he cast it into the waters, the waters were made sweet.” (15:25) And of course all the Israelites crowded into get some water. Whew…crisis averted. Ok…God was taking care of them.
And the Israelites continued their journey, and about two and a half months later they came to a place called the Wilderness of Sin. And this is where the Israelites ran into more trouble. This time…they had run out of food. You see, the Israelites had packed enough food to get them to the Promised Land…but because the cloud had been leading them the long way, they had run out of food before getting there. And again, the Israelites were confused. Why were they having this trouble? God had just recently provided water for them…so why was He letting them go hungry? And they began to wonder again…had they come all this way just to die of hunger in the middle of the dessert? And this time the Israelites actually got angry and began to complain to Moses and Aaron, and said, “Oh, that we had died by the hand of the LORD in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the pots of meat and when we ate bread to the full! For you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger.” (16:2)
Whoa. After just two and a half months, the Israelites were actually looking back to their time in Egypt like it had been a good time! They were like, “Remember the good old days back in Egypt when we had all the food we wanted…where meat and bread were just laying around…and we could just pick some up and eat whenever we had even the slightest pang of hunger?” Riiiight. Of course, if you forget about the fact that they had been slaves in Egypt…and ya know had been whipped and beaten on a regular basis…yah if you forget about all that stuff then yah…Egypt had been a paradise. And not only that, but the Israelites were accusing Moses of taking them out of that paradise and leading them into the dessert…to of all things…kill them. Obviously the Egyptians weren’t the only ones guilty of confused thinking.
Now, of course, just like when God had saved them from slavery…just like when God had provided them a way of escape from the Egyptian army…and just like when God had provided water for them at Marah…God was going to provide for them here too. And God spoke to Moses and said, “I have heard the complaints of the children of Israel. Speak to them, saying, 'At twilight you shall eat meat, and in the morning you shall be filled with bread. And you shall know that I am the LORD your God.'” (16:12) And the Bible says that that very evening that a huge flock of quail came and covered the camp. (Quail are kind of like small chickens.) And the Israelites ate to their heart’s content.
But that wasn’t even the big miracle. The big miracle was what happened the next morning. When the Israelites woke up the next morning, the Bible says they found a “small round substance” (16:14) on the ground. And it was all over the place, fields and fields of the stuff as far as the eye could see. And the Israelites asked themselves, “What is it?” (16:15) And Moses said to them, “This is the bread which the LORD has given you to eat. (16) This is the thing which the LORD has commanded: 'Let every man gather it according to each one's need, one omer for each person, according to the number of persons; let every man take for those who are in his tent.” (16:15-16) And the Israelites were like, “Alright” and started to go around with baskets to collect the stuff. And as they did so, they discovered that, “it was like white coriander seed, and the taste of it was like wafers made with honey.” (16:31) So, it was kinda like a small, round, light cracker…or pastry…that tasted like honey. And the Israelites decided to call it, “Manna”. And the Bible says that they, “gathered it every morning, every man according to his need.” (16:21). So God had indeed provided for the Israelites yet again…and again he’d provided for them in spectacular fashion. Never again would the Israelites have to worry about food.
Now this manna was very interesting, because it behaved very strangely. First of all, the Bible says that, “when the sun became hot, it melted.” (16:21) So, each morning the Israelites would have to wake up early to collect the manna, because if they didn’t it would all be gone once the sun got strong enough. Second, once collected, the manna would only last for until the end of the day. If any of it was left until morning, the manna would have worms in it and stink, and would have to be thrown out. So there was no way to store any manna. So this became the daily routine…each day the Israelites would wake up early in the morning and collect their manna that would last them only for that day.
But this daily routine had a very interesting exception. When Friday came, Moses told the Israelites, “Tomorrow is a Sabbath rest, a holy Sabbath to the LORD. Bake what you will bake today, and boil what you will boil; and lay up for yourselves all that remains, to be kept until morning.” (16:23) So for 5 days of the week, the Israelites could only gather as much manna as they needed for the day. But on Fridays, the Israelites gathered twice as much manna as normal and stored it for the next day. And when the Israelites woke up on Saturday morning, the manna that they had saved from Friday was still good…no worms and it didn’t stink. And not only that, but when people went outside on Saturday morning to gather manna, lo and behold there was no manna on the ground that day. And this happened like clockwork each and every week. And Moses told the Israelites, “Six days you shall gather it, but on the seventh day, the Sabbath, there will be none.” (16:26) So God made a miracle within a miracle to make sure that the Israelites had a Sabbath rest. And it goes to show kidzos just how important that the Sabbath is to God.
After the daily manna had started in the Wilderness of Sin, the Israelites continued on their journey and camped in a place called Rephidim. But when the people arrived in Rephidim, right away they noticed that there was no water. And again, the Israelites were confused. Why were they having this trouble? But, surely since God had just recently provided water for them at Marah, and since God had just recently begun this incredible daily manna thing in the Wilderness of Sin…the Israelites must have realized that God was going to take care of them this time, right? I mean, the Israelites weren’t going to doubt God again for the exact same thing, right? Well, yes. Yes indeed they were going to doubt God again. Again the Israelites complained to Moses, and again they accused Moses of dragging them out into the dessert to kill them. And not only that but this time they were so angry that they threatened to kill Moses! Yikes!
So…what is going on here kidzos? Why were the Israelites so upset every time that they ran into a little bit of trouble? Why did they keep on doubting that God was going to take care of them…even after God had just recently worked wondrous miracles to do just that? Well, more than likely the Israelites were expecting that after they left Egypt that everything was going to be super easy. They were following God who was powerful enough to cause all those plagues in Egypt, and who was powerful enough to appear to them as a huge pillar of fire, and who was powerful enough to divide the sea and make a path for them right through the water. So since God was so powerful, He was going to take care of everything, right? I mean…God was going to make sure that life was easy for them, right? The Israelites probably expected that everything was going to be smooth sailing all the way to the Promised Land. But…only 3 days into their journey they had already run out of water…and then a few months later they’d run out of food…and then not too long after that they’d run out of water again. What was going on? Why was this happening?
And you know what kidzos a lot of people ask those same questions even today. I mean…we serve the same God who did all those amazing things for the Israelites…so why do we have troubles all the time? If we serve such an all-powerful God, why do…for example…parents who serve God lose their jobs sometimes? Why do kids who love God sometimes get bad grades? Why do kids who love God sometimes get picked on by bullies? Why to brothers and sisters who both follow God get on each other’s nerves? Why do we run into these troubles when we serve a God who is all powerful and who could take care of all these problems for us?
Well kidzos, let me share something with you about God. God’s purpose for you is not to make your life easy. Let me say that again kidzos…God’s purpose for you is not to make your life easy. But it is one of God’s purposes for you to prepare you to better serve Him and to prepare you for heaven. God allows trouble to come your way in order to show you where you need to be more prepared. How would you ever know that you were impatient unless your patience is tested…maybe by your brother or sister getting on your nerves? How would you ever know that you need to learn to be more brave unless something scary happens…like maybe a bully picking on you at school? How would you ever know that you were too attached to your stuff unless your stuff gets taken away…like what might happen if one of your parents loses their job?
The Bible tells us that, “For whom the Lord loves, He chastens. And scourges every son whom He receives.” (Heb. 12:6) So God allows us to run into trouble in just the right way and at just the right time for us to learn from these troubles, and to become better boys and girls and men and women so that we can better serve Him and be better prepared for heaven. In fact, if life is too easy…it’s a sign that there’s something wrong. And it’s time to really ask yourself if you do indeed serve God…or if you only think that you do.
Now coming back to the thirsty Israelites in the desert…did God help them to find water? Of course He did. God told Moses to go down to a rock and hit it with his staff. And he did so, and water came pouring out of the rock…enough that all the Israelites had plenty of water. But this time, there was going to be a punishment for their over-the-top lack of trust. The Israelites’ lack of trust had gone beyond an innocence of having been unprepared to run into this particular kind of trouble…and now had become a sin. And not too long after God provided the water to the Israelites, God allowed them to be attacked by one of the nearby nations…the Amalekites. The Bible says that, “Amalek came and fought with Israel in Rephidim.” (17:8) The Bible also tells us that the Amalekites surprised attacked them, that they attacked them at their weakest place (the rear of the camp), and that they attacked the stragglers…the weakest people who were having a hard time keeping up with the rest of the group.
Immediately Moses went into action. The Bible says that he called on a man named Joshua (who we are going to be hearing much more about down the road) and said to him, “Choose us some men and go out, fight with Amalek. Tomorrow I will stand on the top of the hill with the rod of God in my hand.” (17:9) And so this man Joshua rounded up some men, and went to fight the Amalekites. And as the Israelites and the Amalekites began to fight, Moses made his way to the top of that hill where he could have a clear view of the battle. And as the battle progressed, it was noticed that when Moses raised his hands (most likely as he was praying) that the Israelites would start winning the battle…and when he let his hands down the Israelites would start losing the battle. Once Moses noticed this, of course he kept his hands up as long as he could. But…after some time his arms got super tired and he just couldn’t hold them up anymore. So the Bible says that Aaron and a man name Hur, “supported his hands, one on one side, and the other on the other side; and his hands were steady until the going down of the sun. (13) So Joshua defeated Amalek and his people with the edge of the sword.” (17:12-13) Aaron and Hur held up Moses’ arms until the Amalekites were defeated. Through Moses, God had saved the Israelites again…God had given them the victory even though the whole reason they were fighting in the first place was because of their lack of trust.
And this was a very important lesson for the Israelites to learn. The only reason that they weren’t being attacked all the time as they made their way through the dessert is because God was continually protecting them. Because of their lack of trust, God pulled back his protection just enough for the Amalekites to attack. And then when the Israelites saw that they could only win against the Amalekites when Moses’ hands were lifted up to God, this really drove the point home…they were entirely dependent on God…for protection…for food and water…for everything. God would give them the victory and meet their needs…all the Israelites needed to do was trust Him.
After the victory over the Amalekites, the cloud started to move again and took the Israelites even further south. And after a few weeks they came to the Wilderness of Sinai. And off in the distance they saw a huge mountain. They had finally arrived at their first official pit stop - Mount Sinai. This mountain would be their home for the next year. And it was the place where a whole bunch of crazy things were going to happen. And we’ll hear all about it…next time.