Omniscience, Obstacles, Opportunities, and Overruling Oversight

August 15, 2014 at 9:14 am | Posted in Exodus | 10 Comments
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How quickly the freedom of celebration and worship can come to a halt at the first sign of trouble.

So Moses brought Israel from the Red sea, and they went out into the wilderness of Shur; and they went three days in the wilderness, and found no water.

Exodus 15:22

Three days is a long time to go without water for a large group of families and their herds of animals. It is possible that they had gulped down the last of their supply, thinking for sure there would be water at the place up ahead which would come to be known as Marah.

And when they came to Marah, they could not drink of the waters of Marah, for they were bitter: therefore the name of it was called Marah.

Exodus 15:23

That’s what Marah means – bitter.

And the people murmured against Moses, saying, What shall we drink?

Exodus 15:24

The word “murmur” sounds like two repetitious baby sounds put together, and in Scripture it indicates childish or immature complaining, whining, and grumbling. Why did the omniscient God lead them to a place where He obviously knew the water would be undrinkable? Moses did what everyone else should have been doing instead of complaining. He prayed and he believed – logically and faithfully – that the God Who had delivered them out of Egypt would provide water for them.

And he cried unto the LORD; and the LORD shewed him a tree, which when he had cast into the waters, the waters were made sweet: there he made for them a statute and an ordinance, and there he proved them,

Exodus 15:25

The tree may or may not be a picture of the Cross, but I do believe it points to Christ. Just as Adam and Eve brought bitterness into the world by eating from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, so too is there a Tree of Life. This tree was glorious (like Christ), and it was cut down (also like Christ.) It was lowered into the bitter water (just as Christ condescended into the middle of our bitterly fallen and sinful world). The tree took the bitterness away and provided life-giving water. Most Bible scholars are reluctant to read this into it, because there are no specific references to it in the New Testament, but I think it’s appropriate.

Verse 25 says that “there He proved them.” They failed the test, but Moses didn’t. They would fail this test again and again. Despite the assurance that their God (unlike the false Egyptian gods) was Jehovah Rophi – the God that Heals.

They now had plenty of sweet water, but they would be tested again concerning food, and this time there is a clear New Testament revelation concerning the incident.

And they took their journey from Elim, and all the congregation of the children of Israel came unto the wilderness of Sin, which is between Elim and Sinai, on the fifteenth day of the second month after their departing out of the land of Egypt.

Exodus 16:1

Elim was a place with plenty of water and 70 palm trees. It is tempting to read the coincidental name of the wilderness of “Sin” as an allusion our English word “sin,” and to build a lesson around the idea that they were wandering into “sin against God,” but the context does not seem to support a strained connection.

And the whole congregation of the children of Israel murmured against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness:

Exodus 16:2

The murmuring was against God, as well as His spokesman, Moses.

And the children of Israel said unto them, Would to God we had died by the hand of the LORD in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the flesh pots, and when we did eat bread to the full; for ye have brought us forth into this wilderness, to kill this whole assembly with hunger.

Exodus 16:3

The people looked back to bondage, slavery, abuse, and the murder of their children as the “good old days” simply because they were faced with an obstacle. They should have looked at this obstacle as an opportunity to demonstrate faith in the God Who had rescued them.

Then said the LORD unto Moses, Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you; and the people shall go out and gather a certain rate every day, that I may prove them, whether they will walk in my law, or no. And it shall come to pass, that on the sixth day they shall prepare that which they bring in; and it shall be twice as much as they gather daily.

Exodus 16:4-5

Despite their grumbling, cowardice, and lack of faith, God’s goodness and kindness and faithfulness were not thwarted by their sin.

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  1. […] Red Sea was the last challenge they would face, but they could not have been more wrong. They got thirsty and God helped. They got hungry and God helped. Despite their sinful “double D’s” […]

  2. […] 39. Obstacles, Opportunities, and Overruling Oversight […]

  3. […] To set the scene, Hebrews Chapter 3 is discussing the exodus out of Egypt, when God’s people were on their way to the Promised Land and they provoked God with their lack of faith. […]

  4. […] How quickly they forgot what Egypt was really like! […]

  5. […] had delivered His people from the bondage of the Egyptians. They had crossed the Red Sea into the wilderness. The plan was that they would follow the guidance of the Lord into a land which God had promised to […]

  6. […] from following Him. They did not view their movement as a “U-turn” – although they had tried to do that before in wanting to go go back to Egypt – but you don’t have to do a complete 180 to displease God. Any direction other than “His […]

  7. […] after the exodus from Egypt the Israelites became panicky and dissatisfied, and reminded Moses that they had previously told him to leave them alone so they could go back and side with their slavemasters against the God who wanted to set them […]

  8. […] Dancing, and the Wondrous Fear of God (Exodus 15) 23. When the Lord Becomes Your Song (Exodus 15) 24. Omniscience, Obstacles, Opportunities, and Overruling Oversight (Exodus 15-16) 25. The Bookends of Faith (Part 1) (Exodus 3:13-14, 16; John 6:26-51) 26. How to […]

  9. […] that, if the sovereign Lord of all creation is to deal with us, He must (and He has proven that He will) stoop down to our lowly and pitiable […]

  10. […] Do not get involved in murmuring (grumbling and […]


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