My has it been some time since we have visited with Moses and the Israelites .We have seen them become freed from slavery in Egypt (which we also realize is a symbol of the World), and they began a great adventure towards their Promised Land. I am going to recap a few of the places the Israelites were led by God to bring us up to today.
Just like God deals with us, He realizes that while it is easy to get the Israelites out of Egypt it is a lot harder to get Egypt out of the Israelites. To do this, he is going to take them on a journey with resting places at different points so that we can see what God is doing spiritually to the Israelites through the journey.
I love how we see pictures of Jesus throughout the Old Testament, and also how we can see through the examples in the Old Testament of what God is doing in our own spiritual walks. When God reached into our lives and shed light on our situation (the burning bush), arranged trials and life situations to make us realize our need for freedom and how sovereign God is. (If you really want to check out God’s sovereignty just read the book of Daniel, that is the main theme of that book). And then when we accept Christ into our lives and hearts, the Holy Spirit goes about helping us to change old patterns of behavior and walk forward as a new creation IN CHRIST. It is a process. Old habits sometimes cling, and we learn to free ourselves from them.
In Pastor Don’s Bible studies in 2 Kings we saw the journey that Elisha and Elijah made, and how each stop of the way brings about a spiritual lesson. The same is true for the Israelites. We have covered some in previous posts, but I thought I would make a bit of a recap here.
The first stop was SUCCOTH (Exodus 12:37) The meaning of Succoth is TENT TOWN, a reminder to the Israelites that in this life we are passing through. To not take things in this life so seriously, but rather to seek first the Kingdom of God, and the rest will follow. We cannot really enjoy life unless we have sought God. We don’t set down roots here on earth, but we go where God leads us. The people were ready for a long hike, they had hiked up their tunics, put their bread kneading bowls on their backs and brought all their possessions out of Egypt, and God is now going to lead them on a journey – that should have taken about a year, but will end up taking 40 years. Each stop on the way will teach the people something about God and about their spiritual walk. Their exit from Egypt came right on schedule – as God had predicted to Abraham, 430 years sojourn in Egypt. During that time the Egyptians protected the rag-tag band of Israelites from the enemy, and the tribe grew strong, from 40 or so entering Egypt to 2 – 3 million exiting Egypt. While there, although living conditions were tough, the tribe prospered. Now they were ready to go and claim the promised land, but first they had to see that it was God who mattered, that we just pass through.
After that God led the people to the edge of the wilderness, to ETHAM (Exodus 13:20) which means “With them.” God deliberately did not lead them the shorter way through the land of the Philistines because they were not ready to fight them, God had to pull the people together as one. It was here that God demonstrated that He would be with them on the journey. He led the people with a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. Life may seem desert-like to us, bleak, but in reality, no matter how dark our circumstances seem, we have God with us (The Holy Spirit) guiding our steps. We do not have to step out blindly. It is comforting to know I AM is with us.
Then, after that comfort, God led the people to a place that to the senses would seem very crazy, between a rock and a hard place, PI HAHIROTH (The Mouth of the Caves) and MIGDOL and the RED SEA. (Exodus 14) The Israelites needed to realize that God did not always act for their personal comfort, but in this case a powerful message was given to Egypt about God being Sovereign. He also taught the Israelites to FEAR NOT because fear means we are not having faith in God, and we lose sight of the bigness of God. STAND STILL. How many times have we blocked what God is wanting to do by trying to solve the problem in our own strength? God does not need our help, although sometimes He lets us help Him. He knew what He was doing even though the circumstances seemed dire to the Israelites – boxed in with the Red Sea at their backs and no place to go – Pharaoh barreling down, but GOD, Praise God all we need to do is fear not, stand still and SEE THE SALVATION OF THE LORD. This is such a perfect picture of what Jesus did for us, taking us out of Egypt and protecting us, freeing us from the bonds of sin and death. The parting of the Red Sea has a lot of parallels to Jesus. The Red Sea represents the boundary of satan’s authority. Walking through the Red Sea is like a baptism, and they carried the bones of Joseph across towards the Promised Land. God showed up in a big way, reminding the Israelites about their experience in Etham – that God is with them. Sometimes we forget that when we feel boxed in by life.
God then led the Israelites to MARAH. The defeat of the Egyptians caused the Israelites to worship and praise and sing victory songs. They came through the Wilderness of Shur, wandering there for three days and finding no water. How easy it is for us to forget the great things God has done for us when we come up to a dry spot in our lives. We start murmuring and complaining about our situation. It is easy to sit here and type the high, holy position of how God freed them from Egypt, saved them from Pharaoh and his armies, led them to victory with riches beyond imagination, now they gripe and grumble. But I have done the same thing when situations get tough, forgetting all the things God has done in my life and focusing on the challenges. MARAH (Exodus 15:23) means Bitterness, and the roots of bitterness can run deep in us. We can hold onto old hurts and pains and lack, and be choked by bitterness. There is a solution though. God in HIS mercy instructed Moses to take a tree and cast it into the waters and they became sweet. (Remember the waters also were drunk by 2-3 million Israelites). God then gave them a statute, Exodus 15:26 “If you diligently heed the voice of the LORD your God and do what is right in His sight, give ear to His commandments and keep all His statutes, I will put none of the diseases on you which I have brought on the Egyptians. For I am the LORD who heals you.” Our solution is the same as that of the Israelites, when we face bitterness in our life, we need to give it to the Cross. When we turn it over to Jesus, our situation changes.
From Marah, the Israelites traveled to the WILDERNESS OF SIN (thorn and clay) between ELIM (Palms) and SINAI (Thorny). Again they murmured, blaming Moses for their hunger. And God rained down manna (What is It?) for them. And that evening he sent quails to feed the people. With the manna came specific instructions on how much to gather, when to gather it, and its consumption. God was going to test the people in this to see if they would obey Him. Sadly, we will see that they will not obey the instructions of God. In this spot they started being tricked by their memories, remembering the fleshpots of Egypt, and all the food that they consumed there (not true because they were slaves and did not eat the richest food), and they accused God of bringing them out of Egypt to kill them by starvation. They complained against Moses and Aaron, but Moses and Aaron reminded them that their complaints were really against God. And God was merciful here, providing abundantly for their needs, in spite of their ungrateful complaining. God would provide Manna for the people in abundance for 40 years. If there were a conservative number of Israelites of say 2 million, and they collected about 6 pints of Manna per person, that would mean 12 million pints every single day! In order to transport the tons of Manna, today we would need about 10 trains with 30 boxcars apiece to bring just one day’s worth of Manna.
Thinking about Jesus and how Manna represents him, we see in John 6 about Jesus feeding the 5,000. The people then ask Jesus after that glorious sign and wonder, for more signs and wonders. They said, John 6:30-40 Therefore they said to Him, “What sign will You perform then, that we may see it and believe You? What work will You do? Our fathers ate the manna in the desert; as it is written, ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’ Then Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, Moses did not give you the bread from heaven, but My Father gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is He who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” Then they said to Him, “Lord, give us this bread always.” And Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst. But I said to you that you have seen Me and yet do not believe. All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out. For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. This is the will of the Father who sent Me, that of all He has given Me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up at the last day. And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day.”
Jesus is our Bread of Life. We pray, “Give us this day our daily bread.” The Israelites were to gather their Manna daily, just as we need to be in the Word of God daily. When Jesus was tested in the wilderness, he told satan Matthew 4:4 But He answered and said, “It is written, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.”
The Manna in the wilderness points to Jesus. In the beginning was the Word, and Jesus is the Word. We need to meditate on, digest, and eat the Word daily. If we do not we lose our focus. We can become disillusioned, disoriented and confused. We can backtrack and go back to what God has freed us from.
Tomorrow I will share with you how the Israelites followed God’s Commands concerning the Manna. I wish I could say that we would not do that in similar circumstances, but there are times in my life when I heard God’s direction and did not follow it, only to learn that God’s plan was a more excellent way.
I pray this review is helpful, and I hope you enjoyed this wonderful spring day. God is so good!
Heather’s Blog Recent Posts
- John 14:1-14 – Many mansions, the Way, the Truth, and the Life taught by Pastor Don Moore
- Multiplying disciples/Discipleship identification – notes from discipleship class taught by Pastor Don Moore
- Multiplying Disciples – notes from Discipleship class taught by Pastor Don Moore
- Syria – letter from trapist nuns
- John 14:1-11 taught by Pastor Don Moore with comments from Rabbi Michael Zeitler
- Notes from homily taught by Father Raphael Iannone taught August 25, 2013 – Luke 13:22-30 – The last shall be first, the first last
- Homily – Luke 13:22-30 – The last shall be first, the first last taught by Father Raphael Iannone
- Notes from a Homily on Luke 12:49-53 by Father Raphael Iannone
- Facing Your Jerusalem – transcript Say Amen show 161 taught by Pastor Don Moore
- Mammon – homily by Father Raphael Iannone