Standing on the Promises

Water, Manna, & Quail | Devotion 2: Standing on the Promises
John Hubbard

The Israelites up and down relationship with the Lord in the Old Testament is so fascinating to me. The Israelites witnessed incredible miracles from God so many times but then were so quick to turn from Him and chase false gods. They would eventually return to God and experience these incredible spiritual moments with God, but no matter how much He manifested His power to them, they always seemed so quick to doubt Him when faced with any trials or even when they just got “bored.” Looking through the Old Testament, you can see this pattern repeated seemingly countless times. It is easy to read this and disconnect yourself from the story. It is easy to read this, shake your head, and think, “Man, these guys were such idiots.” It is easy to read about the Israelites making the same mistakes over and over and feel that this story is a bit redundant, but we know that all Scripture is God-breathed. Every line, every verse, and every word is placed there intentionally by Almighty God. In 1 Corinthians 10:11 (NKJV), Paul says, “Now all these things happened unto them for examples: and they are written for our admonition.”  I have read over Exodus 15:22-27 so many times and never really paid much attention to it or tried to thoughtfully consider what God’s purpose was in inspiring Moses to write it.

At first glance, this seems pretty par for the course for Israel if you are familiar with the pattern of the Israelites. The passage finds the Israelites in the wilderness, they had been walking for three days, there were somewhere around two million of them, and they were running out of water. They come to a place called Marah and found water there, but the water was bitter and undrinkable. The people were desperate and started grumbling against Moses. Moses cried out to the Lord for help, the Lord gave Moses instructions (which Moses followed), and God made the water drinkable for the people. It is important to notice the context surrounding this passage. The Israelites had just experienced God’s miraculous and powerful parting of the Red Sea that saved them and destroyed the Egyptians who were attempting to bring them back into captivity. The beginning of chapter 15 is a beautiful song of praise about God’s glory and power. They are singing and praising their wonderful God who rescued them, and then a couple of days later, they have completely lost faith and are grumbling against God’s faithful servant who was leading them.

Are we like the Israelites? In a sermon Pastor Josh preached during the prayer series (titled “Temptation”), he talked about how after we experience these spiritual highs, these mountain top moments with God, we often then will face trials or temptations. This was true for Jesus after His baptism, where the people heard the audible voice of God, declaring that Jesus was His Son. Jesus was then immediately tempted by the devil. The Israelites had just experienced the incredible parting of the Red Sea where God powerfully showed that they were His people that He loved and would protect them. Yet, just a few days later when they were faced with hardships, they despaired. Let us not fall into the same trap the Israelites did. God never promised us that life as a follower of Him would be easy. In fact, He promised the opposite. In John 16:33 (NIV), Jesus states, “In this world you will have trouble.”

What God promises is that He will be faithful (1 Corinthians 10:13: Hebrews 10:23).  He promises that He has overcome the world (John 16:33). He promises that He will never leave us in times of trouble (Matthew 28:20: Deuteronomy 31:6: Isaiah 41:10). Next time you feel that you are entering into the wilderness and are stuck in the land of bitter water, next time you feel desperate and do not know how to respond, please remember what you know to be true. He is faithful, He cares for you, and He has not left your side no matter how alone you may feel.

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