Who Is This God?October 4-8
The God Who Provides: Hungry Complainers
And the whole congregation of the people of Israel grumbled against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness, and the people of Israel said to them, “Would that we had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the meat pots and ate bread to the full, for you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger.” – Exodus 16:2-3 (ESV)
Start with a basic two-door sedan loaded with luggage for a vacation trip. Add a father, mother, and three children under the age of ten. Aim the car at an objective that is 500 miles down the road. After 350 miles have passed, examine the scene. What is the condition of what has become a traveling circus? Pretty discouraging? Now, magnify that situation thousands of times over, move it back some 3,500 years, eliminate the automobile, and you will begin to understand Moses’ predicament in Exodus 16. The thrill of freedom and the excitement of the exodus were soon erased by the discomforts of travel. Gratitude usually gives way to grumbling. (author unknown)
The congregation of Israel would have been only about six weeks from crossing the Red Sea, and already they are up in arms against their leaders. While Moses has been insisting to Pharaoh that the people needed to retreat into the desert in order to serve and worship God, the people themselves think God exists to serve them. They lost sight of God’s future for them, and they also twisted the past to support their complaining. The people are hungry but they have forgotten that God has always provided for them.
If you’re tempted to grumble, check your heart and be on guard because it spreads and contaminates many. Also, if you’re tempted to grumble, reflect on God’s past work on your behalf.
Here are a few Antidotes for Grumbling: 1. List daily the ways that God benefits your life. Gratefulness involves daily alertness. 2. Recall God’s help in a crisis. 3. Turn your gratefulness into a song. Write out a document of gratefulness to Him and make it your “life song” to the Lord. 4. Give thanks even for the hardships of life. 5. Thank God when you are not thankful. Thanking Him is an act of obedience to His will. (See 1 Th 5:18+) 6. Tell the Lord how He has benefited you.
The God Who Provides: One Day at A Time
Then the Lord said to Moses, “Behold, I am about to rain bread from heaven for you, and the people shall go out and gather a day’s portion every day, that I may test them, whether they will walk in my law or not. – Exodus 16:4 (ESV)
My wife and I like to rollerblade. Near the end of one of our favorite routes is a long hill. When we first started taking this route, I tried to encourage Sue by saying, “Are you ready for the hill?” just before pushing our way to the top. But one day she said, “Could you please not say that? You make it sound like a huge mountain, and that discourages me.”
It was better for Sue to face the hill thinking only about one “step,” or one rollerblade push, at a time instead of an entire steep hill to conquer. Life can be like that. If we peer too far ahead of today, the challenges may feel like a Mt. Everest climb. They can appear impossible to handle if we think we have to be “ready for the hill.” (Our Daily Bread)
The Lord responded to the people’s grumbling with His amazing grace: He promised to rain bread from heaven on them and to provide meat that evening. What is the test in Exodus 16:4? The giving of the manna was a test of their obedience to God’s clear instructions and a test of their faith regarding whether they believe him and do not gather too much manna or attempt to store it for the next day.
Moses tells us in Deut 8:2-5 that they did not know their own heart – the wilderness was for their education, their counseling, their training. They needed time to get slavery out of the people, even though the people were out of slavery. Stated another way, God had gotten them completely out of Egypt, but would spend the next 40 years (and really even the time after that) getting Egypt out of them. Yahweh had gotten them out and was preparing their hearts to take them in (to the promised land). “You can take the person out of slavery in a moment, but you can’t take the slavery out of the person.” (Keller)
Sometimes the blessings of God are a test for us. This reminds us that God may provide from resources that we never knew existed. Sometimes He provides from familiar resources, sometimes from unexpected resources. Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. —Matthew 6:34.
Praise God for the times He has supplied your needs when you had your doubts. Ask God to grow your daily faith in His faithfulness.
The God Who Provides: Disbelief, Disobedience, Decomposition
But they did not listen to Moses. Some left part of it till the morning, and it bred worms and stank. And Moses was angry with them. – Exodus 16:20 (ESV)
I used to have problems getting my son to clean his room. I would insist that he, “Do it now,” and he would always agree to do so, but then he wouldn’t follow through; at least, not right way. After high school, he joined the Marine Corps, which is where he is now. When he and I were on the plane together coming home for his leave after Boot Camp, he said to me, “My life makes sense now, Dad. Everything you said and did when I was growing up now makes sense. I really, really understand.” “Oh yeah, Dad,” he added. “I learned what ‘now’ means.” (Lou Nicholes)
In Exodus 16, the children of Israel have still not learned simple obedience. God tested them by instructing them to trust Him and only take as much manna as they needed each day. Unfortunately, most failed the test miserably. They try to hoard manna when they are told not to; they try to gather manna when, on the Sabbath, none is provided. Moses is frankly angry with them (16:20); the Lord himself challenges this chronic disobedience (Ex 16:28).
There are consequences to disobedience. God loves us and wants what is best for us. When we obey Him we invite decay and destruction into our lives. Are there any areas of clear disobedience in your life?
Jesus taught the disciples to pray, “Give us this day our daily bread.” Let this be your prayer and your praise today.
The God Who Provides: Faithful
The people of Israel ate the manna forty years, till they came to a habitable land. They ate the manna till they came to the border of the land of Canaan. – Exodus 16:35 (ESV)
John Underhill writes, “My brother Ron had a dog named Lucy. She often would bury all the food Ron gave her, and one time buried the bowl along with the food. She didn’t realize that as long as she belonged to Ron, she would be fed. We often hoard what God gives us today because we don’t trust Him to provide for our needs tomorrow.”
Israel tried to hoard what God was giving them but there was no need for hoarding or fear. God provided manna everyday for 40 years. This section underscores God’s great and continual provision for the house of Israel. It is not a one-off provision, but ‘a continual feast’, to quote Matthew Henry. Manna rained from heaven for forty years, and that demonstrates, in Henry’s words, ‘how constant the care of providence is’. And the manna never failed, even in the light of the people’s ingratitude.
How have you seen God prove Himself faithful over time? Are there areas of fear about the future that reflect your lack of faith in God’s care and provision in your life?
Praise God for His proven track record of faithfulness in Scripture. Praise God for His proven track record of faithfulness in your life.
The God Who Provides: Thirsty For More
“Behold, I will stand before you there on the rock at Horeb, and you shall strike the rock, and water shall come out of it, and the people will drink.” And Moses did so, in the sight of the elders of Israel. And he called the name of the place Massah and Meribah, because of the quarreling of the people of Israel, and because they tested the Lord by saying, “Is the Lord among us or not?” – Exodus 17:6-7 (ESV)
Arabian horses are trained rigorously in the middle eastern deserts. The horses must learn to fully obey their master. This obedience is tested by depriving the horses of water for many days and then turning them loose near water. As the horses get to the edge of the water, and just before they drink the much-needed water. The trainer blows his whistle. If the horses have learned to obey they turn around and come back to the trainer who then gives them as much water as they need. The trainer knows what his horses need and will not allow them to die of thirst, but they must trust him. God knows what His children need and wants to supply it, but we must trust and obey Him. (Source: The One Year Men of the Bible, James Stuart Bell)
In Exodus 17, God’s people are thirsty. The people see no water anywhere! Note that they are in the will of God in the sense they journeyed where He led. One can be in the center of His will and still be in the center of a trial! We do not want to underestimate their situation — this is a serious trial to be in a desert and have no water. Steven Cole writes, “Why did God directly lead Israel to another place of no water?” The answer is: For the same reason He brings us into places of need: so that we will call upon Him in our weakness and He will be glorified when He delivers us. The Lord says (Ps. 50:15), “Call upon Me in the day of trouble; I shall rescue you, and you will honor Me.”
If we fail to learn the lessons of our trials, the Lord leads us to face more trials until we develop the character that God wants us to have and purge the sinfulness from our lives. God brings water out of a rock. There is no natural explanation. This is clear evidence of the supernatural power of God. It should have stunned and awoken the nation of Israel out of their indifference toward God and it should awaken us today as well. Someone said, “We could also entitle this passage ‘Grace to Grumblers!’” When the people complained about no food in the wilderness, without rebuke God graciously promised to rain bread from heaven on them. Aren’t we glad God gives grumblers grace!
Thank God for using your thirst to draw you to Himself. Thank God for providing true satisfaction and living water for our souls.