Good morning. It is Thursday, March 31, 2022. Jeanette Stark here.
Throughout my life I have often referred to myself as “the children of Israel”. Why? Because those people saw miracle after miracle after miracle and still doubted.
I too have seen God working in my life. I have seen direct answers to prayer. I have had God interrupt my thoughts and cause me to move on something I would have regretted had I ignored it. I know He lives. I know He is all-powerful. I know He cares for me and loves me and watches out for me…and yet. And yet, sometimes I have doubt. Doubt that He hears me. Doubt that He will move on my behalf. Doubt that He can really love me with all my history. Doubt.
Did you realize God parted the waters for them not once, but twice? But I am getting ahead of the story.
The children of Israel saw a pillar of cloud during the day and a pillar of fire at night. Just think about that! They were in the desert with the Lord leading them every step of the way.
“And the Lord went before them by day in a pillar of cloud to lead the way, and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so as to go by day and night. He did not take away the pillar of cloud by day or the pillar of fire by night from before the people.” Exodus 13:21-22 NKJV
They were being chased by Pharaoh who has changed his mind about letting them go. They come up to this large body of water. They are trapped. Water in front, soldiers behind, nowhere to run.
“Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea; and the Lord caused the sea to go back by a strong east wind all that night, and made the sea into dry land, and the waters were divided. So the children of Israel went into the midst of the sea on the dry ground, and the waters were a wall to them on their right hand and on their left. And the Egyptians pursued and went after them into the midst of the sea, all Pharaoh’s horses, his chariots, and his horsemen.” Exodus 14:21-23 NKJV
God then confused the soldiers, caused their chariots to malfunction and ultimately killed every single one.
“Now it came to pass, in the morning watch, that the Lord looked down upon the army of the Egyptians through the pillar of fire and cloud, and He troubled (or confused) the army of the Egyptians. And He took off (or bound) their chariot wheels, so that they drove them with difficulty; and the Egyptians said, “Let us flee from the face of Israel, for the Lord fights for them against the Egyptians.”
“Then the Lord said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand over the sea, that the waters may come back upon the Egyptians, on their chariots, and on their horsemen.” And Moses stretched out his hand over the sea; and when the morning appeared, the sea returned to its full depth, while the Egyptians were fleeing into it. So the Lord overthrew (or shook off) the Egyptians in the midst of the sea. Then the waters returned and covered the chariots, the horsemen, and all the army of Pharaoh that came into the sea after them. Not so much as one of them remained. But the children of Israel had walked on dry land in the midst of the sea, and the waters were a wall to them on their right hand and on their left.” Exodus 14:24-29 NKJV
Now they are wandering in the wilderness. They are three days out from the Red Sea and there is no water. What does God do? Provides them with water.
“So Moses brought Israel from the Red Sea; then they went out into the Wilderness of Shur. And they went three days in the wilderness and found no water. Now when they came to Marah, they could not drink the waters of Marah, for they were bitter. Therefore the name of it was called Marah (or bitter). And the people complained against Moses, saying, “What shall we drink?” So he cried out to the Lord, and the Lord showed him a tree. When he cast it into the waters, the waters were made sweet…” Exodus 15:22-25
Now it is the 15th day of the second month since they left Egypt and they are hungry. Not only hungry but complaining big time!
“Then the whole congregation of the children of Israel complained against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness. And the children of Israel said to them, “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.” Then the Lord said to Moses, “Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you. And the people shall go out and gather a certain quota every day, that I may test them, whether they will walk in My law or not.” Exodus 16:2-4 NKJV
God then provides, not just bread, but meat to eat.
“So it was that quail came up at evening and covered the camp, and in the morning the dew lay all around the camp. And when the layer of dew lifted, there, on the surface of the wilderness, was a small round substance, as fine as frost on the ground. So when the children of Israel saw it, they said to one another, “What is it?” For they did not know what it was. And Moses said to them, “This is the bread which the Lord has given you to eat. 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.’ ” Then the children of Israel did so and gathered, some more, some less. So when they measured it by omers, he who gathered much had nothing left over, and he who gathered little had no lack. Every man had gathered according to each one’s need.” Exodus 16:13-18 NKJV
Once again, they find themselves without water. They are camped in Rephidim and once again complaining.
“And the people thirsted there for water, and the people complained against Moses, and said, “Why is it you have brought us up out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and our livestock with thirst?” So Moses cried out to the Lord, saying, “What shall I do with this people? They are almost ready to stone[a] me!” And the Lord said to Moses, “Go on before the people, and take with you some of the elders of Israel. Also take in your hand your rod with which you struck the river, and go. Behold, I will stand before you there on the rock in Horeb; and you shall strike the rock, and water will come out of it, that the people may drink.” And Moses did so in the sight of the elders of Israel.” Exodus 17:3-6 NKJV
God helped Joshua defeat Amalek and his men.
“And Moses said to Joshua, “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.” So Joshua did as Moses said to him, and fought with Amalek. And Moses, Aaron, and Hur went up to the top of the hill. And so it was, when Moses held up his hand, that Israel prevailed; and when he let down his hand, Amalek prevailed. But Moses’ hands became heavy (or weary of being held up); so they took a stone and put it under him, and he sat on it. And Aaron and 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. So Joshua defeated Amalek and his people with the edge of the sword.” Exodus 17:9-13 NKJV
God then met with and spoke to Moses on Mt. Sinai. God reminded them of what He had done for them. He also assured them if they would obey Him and trust Him, all would go well for them.
“For they had departed from Rephidim, had come to the Wilderness of Sinai, and camped in the wilderness. So Israel camped there before the mountain. And Moses went up to God, and the Lord called to him from the mountain, saying, “Thus you shall say to the house of Jacob, and tell the children of Israel: 4 ‘You have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore (or sustained) you on eagles’ wings and brought you to Myself. Now therefore, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be a special treasure to Me above all people; for all the earth is Mine. And you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words which you shall speak to the children of Israel.” Exodus 19:2-6 NKJV
“Then it came to pass on the third day, in the morning, that there were thunderings and lightnings, and a thick cloud on the mountain; and the sound of the trumpet was very loud, so that all the people who were in the camp trembled. And Moses brought the people out of the camp to meet with God, and they stood at the foot of the mountain. Now Mount Sinai was completely in smoke, because the Lord descended upon it in fire. Its smoke ascended like the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mountain quaked greatly. And when the blast of the trumpet sounded long and became louder and louder, Moses spoke, and God answered him by voice. Then the Lord came down upon Mount Sinai, on the top of the mountain. And the Lord called Moses to the top of the mountain, and Moses went up.” Exodus 19:16-20 NKJV
God caused Aaron’s rod to bud. The back story? The Israelites are complaining, AGAIN, and God instructs Moses to gather twelve staffs or rods, one from each tribe. The staff that sprouted would belong to the man God had chosen. Keep in mind, this was the same rod that had turned into a snake in Pharaoh’s court. It was also placed in the arc of the covenant. It was important.
“So Moses spoke to the children of Israel, and each of their leaders gave him a rod apiece, for each leader according to their fathers’ houses, twelve rods; and the rod of Aaron was among their rods. And Moses placed the rods before the Lord in the tabernacle of witness. Now it came to pass on the next day that Moses went into the tabernacle of witness, and behold, the rod of Aaron, of the house of Levi, had sprouted and put forth buds, had produced blossoms and yielded ripe almonds. Then Moses brought out all the rods from before the Lord to all the children of Israel; and they looked, and each man took his rod. And the Lord said to Moses, “Bring Aaron’s rod back before the Testimony, to be kept as a sign against the rebels, that you may put their complaints away from Me, lest they die.” Thus did Moses; just as the Lord had commanded him, so he did.” Numbers 17:6-11 NKJV
In Numbers 20 we see once again God providing for them. We also see Moses is getting an attitude. He is tired of the complaining. He is tied of the traveling. He acts on his own instead of what God told him to do and yet God honored the act with water.
“Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “Take the rod; you and your brother Aaron gather the congregation together. Speak to the rock before their eyes, and it will yield its water; thus you shall bring water for them out of the rock, and give drink to the congregation and their animals.” So Moses took the rod from before the Lord as He commanded him. And Moses and Aaron gathered the assembly together before the rock; and he said to them, “Hear now, you rebels! Must we bring water for you out of this rock?” Then Moses lifted his hand and struck the rock twice with his rod; and water came out abundantly, and the congregation and their animals drank. Then the Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron, “Because you did not believe Me, to hallow Me in the eyes of the children of Israel, therefore you shall not bring this assembly into the land which I have given them.” Numbers 20:7-12 NKJV
There is more traveling and more complaining, more forgetting all the miracles God has performed in their sight. Numbers chapter 21 talks about the snakes.
“Then they journeyed from Mount Hor by the Way of the Red Sea, to go around the land of Edom; and the soul of the people became very discouraged (or impatient) on the way. And the people spoke against God and against Moses: “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? For there is no food and no water, and our soul loathes (or detests) this worthless bread.” So the Lord sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people; and many of the people of Israel died. Therefore the people came to Moses, and said, “We have sinned, for we have spoken against the Lord and against you; pray to the Lord that He take away the serpents from us.” So Moses prayed for the people. Then the Lord said to Moses, “Make a fiery serpent, and set it on a pole; and it shall be that everyone who is bitten, when he looks at it, shall live.” So Moses made a bronze serpent, and put it on a pole; and so it was, if a serpent had bitten anyone, when he looked at the bronze serpent, he lived.” Numbers 21:4-9 NKJV
Finally, after 40 years in the wilderness, the Israelites are ready to enter the promised land. Moses is dead. The people are now being led by Joshua. Except for Joshua and Caleb, every person who left Egypt as an adult has died on that journey, only their children would see the promised land. We can read about that in Number chapter 14.
“The carcasses of you who have complained against Me shall fall in this wilderness, all of you who were numbered, according to your entire number, from twenty years old and above. Except for Caleb the son of Jephunneh and Joshua the son of Nun, you shall by no means enter the land which I swore I would make you dwell in. But your little ones, whom you said would be victims, I will bring in, and they shall know the land which you have despised. But as for you, your carcasses shall fall in this wilderness.” Numbers 14:29-32 NKJV
Now it is time to enter the promised land. It is the end of the journey, but certainly not the end of their story. You can read about the event of the crossing in Joshua chapter 3.
“So it was, when the people set out from their camp to cross over the Jordan, with the priests bearing the ark of the covenant before the people, and as those who bore the ark came to the Jordan, and the feet of the priests who bore the ark dipped in the edge of the water (for the Jordan overflows all its banks during the whole time of harvest), that the waters which came down from upstream stood still, and rose in a heap very far away at Adam, the city that is beside Zaretan. So the waters that went down into the Sea of the Arabah, the Salt Sea, failed, and were cut off; and the people crossed over opposite Jericho. Then the priests who bore the ark of the covenant of the Lord stood firm on dry ground in the midst of the Jordan; and all Israel crossed over on dry ground, until all the people had crossed completely over the Jordan.” Joshua 3:14-17 NKJV
Recapping what God did for them:
Pillar of cloud by day.
Pillar of fire by night.
Strong wind that divided the water AND made the sea into dry land.
Confused, interfered with, and killed their enemy.
Provided them with water by having Moses throw a tree into water that was drinkable.
Provided them with bread and meat to eat.
Provided them with water when Moses took his rod and struck the rock in Horeb.
Helped them defeat their enemy.
Spoke directly to Moses on Mt. Sinai.
Caused Aaron’s staff to bud, blossom, and show ripe almonds.
Provided water for them, again.
Caused a Bronze snake to heal anyone that had been bitten by a real snake, if he or she looked at it.
Parted the waters of the river Jordan.
Yes, sometimes I am the children of Israel. I forget all the good things God has done for me.
If you were to list all the miracles and provisions God has made for you over your lifetime, what would it look like? Maybe we should make a list and look at it daily as a reminder that God does not change. The God that helped the Israelites is the same God that helps you and me!
“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” Hebrews 13:8 NKJV