Next in the Explore the Bible series is “Tested Devotion (Exodus 15:22-18:27).” Again there is a large amount of material this week. Two weeks ago we read about God sending the last plague, God bringing Israel out of Egypt, and the people praising God for all His work to save them. This week we will see God’s provision for His people, their distrust of God, and Moses’ need of help as mediator.
- God brings Israel to Elim (15:22-27)
- Into the wilderness (15:22)
- Bitter water at Marah (15:23-25a)
- grumbling against Moses (15:23-24a)
- Moses cries out to the Lord (15:25a)
- Testing for obedience and subsequent blessings (15:25b-26)
- A mini-promised land/garden of Eden (15:27)
- God supplies manna (16:1-36)
- Israel grumbles for food (16:1-3)
- The Lord tells Moses of His provision, Moses tells the people (16:4-8)
- The Lord confirms His provision so that the people know He is the LORD their God (16:9-12)
- The quail and manna come as promised then Moses gives instructions but some disobey by keeping some over-night (16:13-21)
- The explanation of the double gathering on the sixth day, apparently explained after it was gathered/obeyed (16:22-26)
- Disobedience on the Sabbath – instruction on what the Sabbath is (16:27-30)
- Manna described and then preserved so that future generations could see and attest to the Lord’s faithfulness through 40 years of provision (16:31-36)
- God supplies water (17:1-7)
- The people are without water and so quarrel with Moses (17:1-3)
- Moses cried out to God (17:4)
- The Lord responds with a plan for Moses to carry out and they receive water (17:5-7)
- God supplies the victory over Amalek (17:8-16)
- Joshua leads Israel against Amalek (17:8-13)
- The Lord declares continual war against Amalek (17:14-16)
- God supplies help for Moses to mediate (18:1-27)
- Moses welcomes his father-in-law Jethro who brings Moses’ children and wife back to him (18:1-7)
- Moses recounts the Lord’s good work of delivering Israel so Jethro praises God and celebrates with Aaron and the elders (18:8-12)
- Jethro watches Moses judge the people of Israel according to the law and offers advice to ease the burden on Moses and spread the responsibility and work among many people (18:13-27)
With so much material it is difficult to teach on. The main themes that come out are God’s provision in the face of Israel’s grumbling and the continual pointing forward to Jesus, God’s perfect provision and the perfect and true mediator between God and His people.
The grumbling of the people shows their distrust of God. When I was contemplating this I thought, “why didn’t God supply food and water before they asked for it? He knows all things. He knew they were hungry and thirsty. He knew where the water was bitter and what needed to be done to it. Why not supply before complaining and grumbling comes?” I think the best answer is that God did not want grumbling or complaining but prayers of faith. Instead of going to the wrong people, like Moses and Aaron, the Israelites should have realized that God was their Savior and provider. They should of known that the LORD who had just saved them would also supply for them. But they didn’t believe that God was good and would do good to his people. So instead of turn to Him in prayer they complained. Now, why would God want them to pray? God saved Israel in order for them to have a relationship with God. He wanted them to love Him, trust Him, and depend on Him. That is what prayer does. It shows our love, trust, and dependence on God. To apply this to us we need to investigate our own lives. Instead of complaining we need to take the opportunity God is giving us to deepen our relationship with Him by praying that He supply all our needs.
The perfect provision and the perfect and true mediator between God and His people is Jesus the Christ. We see several shadows of Jesus in this section of Exodus. We see Him in the manna (John 6:31-35), in the rock Moses struck (1 Corinthians 10:1-5), and in Moses as the mediator and judge for all the people. In the last of these we have the continuing theme of Moses being an early indication of who Christ would be. Though Moses needed advice to distribute the work among the people, Jesus contrasts with that. Jesus is fully God and fully Man so He is capable of being the only Mediator and Judge between God and man. There is no room for another (1 Timothy 2:5) and no need for Him to have help (2 Corinthians 12:9).
When we speak of Jesus as the fulfillment of the manna and the rock we go back to 2 Corinthians 12:9 where Jesus says, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Paul then tells us how he applied this, “Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” All our needs are supplied out of God’s grace. Whether He supplies our physical needs or not Paul tells us that everything he thought he needed was a new reason to acknowledge his weakness and Jesus’ sufficiency. Every time we eat or drink or do anything else we should glorify God (1 Corinthians 10:31) because of that great supply through Jesus our Lord. From the very basics of food and water that were supplied by the manna and through the rock to our ultimate need for salvation from the just wrath of God against our sin, everything is supplied by God through Jesus Christ because of His gracious out pouring on the cross!