The Ten Commandments. The building blocks of Judaism and, thus, Christianity. Many of us were raised with them, and were taught them from a young age. They are posted in Sunday school class rooms and displayed in prominent places. You could probably rattle them off from memory. However, we must be careful that familiarity doesn’t breed nonchalance. The Ten Commandments are not something we should take lightly. They are the standards our holy God set for us to be a people worthy of His name.
“On the third new moon after the people of Israel had gone out of the land of Egypt, on that day they came into the wilderness of Sinai. They set out from Rephidim and came into the wilderness of Sinai, and they encamped in the wilderness. There Israel encamped before the mountain, while Moses went up to God. The LORD called to him out of the mountain, saying, ‘Thus you shall say to the house of Jacob, and tell the people of Israel: You yourselves have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself. Now therefore, if you will indeed obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession among all peoples, for all the earth is mine; and you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. These are the words that you shall speak to the people of Israel. So Moses came and called the elders of the people and set before them all these words that the LORD had commanded him. All the people answered together and said, ‘All that the LORD has spoken we will do.’ And Moses reported the words of the people to the LORD. And the LORD said to Moses, ‘Behold, I am coming to you in a thick cloud, that the people may hear when I speak with you, and may also believe you forever.’”
Things were looking good for the Israelites. They had just won their first battle and were being fed daily with God’s gift of manna. However, as with any group of sinful people gathered together, conflict arose among the people. So while everything seemed to be going great, Moses was stuck listening to the complaints of the people and judging between them day in and day out. Not a very exciting task! But being the servant leader Moses was, he didn’t complain, but tirelessly sat and judged the people each and every day
Welcome back to Exodus! It’s been awhile, but I’m excited to dive back into the life of Moses and the story of God as He transformed a ragtag group of ex-slaves into a conquering nation. Israel had a long ways to go, but each step in their journey brought them closer to the Promised Land and closer to the heart of God. So let’s return to following their footsteps through the pages of Exodus that we may learn from their mistakes and see how God can use broken, imperfect people to accomplish His divine purposes.
When I read some of the stories in the Old Testament it amazes me what some of God’s leaders had to put up with. We think we have difficult people in our lives, but what about them? Have you ever considered how challenging Ahab was to Elijah? But even more trying is when the difficult people in your life are part of your spiritual family, fellow believers with the same faith and God you profess. This is probably the most difficult! But Moses is a great role model for us in these situations.
Manna: God’s divine provision for the Israelites during their wilderness wanderings. We’ve already seen that through this miracle God shows us two points: 1) He will always provide, and 2) He wants us to trust and believe His Word. Let’s now look at the other two points we can glean from the miracle of manna.
What is it?! That’s what the Israelites called the flaky whiteness that appeared on the barren ground of the wilderness. In a land that was devoid of nutrients and substance, this divine provision was life-saving to the Israelites and nothing short of a miracle. Yet in the midst of their grumbling and complaining attitude, all the Israelites could say is “What is it?!”
The Israelites crossed the Red Sea on dry ground. They were delivered after 430 years of slavery. They were headed to the Promised Land. They saw firsthand the mighty acts of God and followed His cloud and fire each day and night. Naturally, their first reaction after crossing the Red Sea was worship.
They worshipped with Moses and then Miriam picked up the tambourine and led the people in more singing and praising of God. However, this didn’t last too long. As will become the typical reaction for this ungrateful people, the moment things got tough the Israelites forgot all the things God had done. They whined and complained and blamed Moses and God for their troubles. Look at what happens immediately after the Israelites walk away from the shores of the Red Sea.
“Then Moses and the people of Israel sang this song to the LORD, saying, “‘I will sing to the LORD, for he has triumphed gloriously; the horse and his rider he has thrown into the sea. The LORD is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation; this is my God, and I will praise him, my father’s God, and I will exalt him. The LORD is a man of war; the LORD is his name.’”
After the victorious crossing of the Red Sea, the defeat of Pharaoh and his army, and tasting freedom, everything seemed to be going good. We could end our study of Moses and the Exodus here, on the other side of the Red Sea. However, the story of Moses’ life is not done. This is just the close of one chapter—a new one awaits.
The Israelites walked through the Red Sea on dry ground. But what happened to the Egyptians? What did they do when they saw their former slaves walk straight through the sea? They followed them. They charged right into the Red Sea in pursuit of the Israelites. But was their experience at the bottom of the Red Sea the same as the Israelites? Not quite.
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