Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Exodus 13-18: Through the Wilderness

This is a yo-yo story. That is to say, the same cycle keeps repeating itself over and over, so we see Israel going up and down, up and down . . . Check it out.

First: Pharaoh's army chases Israel. Israel says they should've stayed in Egypt. Moses parts the Red Sea, and Israel is happy and praises God.
Second: The water is bitter and the people can't drink it. The people grumble against Moses. God tells Moses to throw a stick in the water and it becomes drinkable.
Third: the Israelites get hungry and talk about how much food they had in Egypt. God provides manna and quail.
Fourth: there's no water at Rephidim. The people complain and say they should've stayed in Egypt. God makes Moses hit a rock and water comes out of it.

And while all that is going on, the people are coming to Moses every day from dawn to dusk with their problems. She took my toy, my neighbor ate my sheep, they TP'd my tent, I don't know. But apparently just about everybody had some kind of problem, and nobody could work it out for themselves so they all cried to Moses. So Moses' father-in-law (remember him?) comes and tells Moses to appoint other people to help him judge.

Basically, this passage shows us something about people and something about God. It says that people have very short memories. God just did a whole bunch of crazy miracles in the last few chapters, and as soon as Israel gets ten feet away they seem to forget all about that. It's like, did they really think God did all those miracles in Egypt just to leave them stranded in the wilderness? Or would he part the Red Sea but not feed them? How dense can you be, right?

Unfortunately, we do the same thing. It is so easy to forget how God has provided for us in the past because, well, it's in the past. For some reason, every new little problem that comes up appears in our eyes to be this great overwhelming thing, and I guess we think that if God were -really- on our side He wouldn't let us have any problems at all. But as we saw yesterday, that's not the way God works. He doesn't clear the rocks out of the path; he just helps us get past them.

I can't remember what book it was, but I have a feeling it was Stone of Help by Robin Hardy - the main character has this dream where she's walking with God on this rocky path, and sometimes He stoops down and clears rocks out of the way to make it easier. And sometimes He leaves the rocks there, and she trips on them and stuff. She finally asks God why He didn't just clear away -all- the rocks, and He replies, "because if there were no rocks at all, there wouldn't be a path." Something to think about. It might've been that book . . . either way, Robin Hardy has some good lines in her Annals of Lystra trilogy.

This story really makes a sharp contrast between men and God. The people in this story are fickle and seem to keep changing their minds about God. God, on the other hand, is depicted as unchanging. He always has a way to provide for the Israelites, and He always preserves them even if He doesn't make the journey easy for them. I think He really wants the people to just trust that it will be okay. Maybe that's why He leaves obstacles in their path, actually. Maybe He just wants to see if anybody's going to learn from the past and trust Him this time.

Relationships really have a lot to do with trust. You never know how strong a relationship is until you get into a situation where it becomes difficult to trust the other person. Trials reveal who we really are. What kind of person am I under pressure? What kind of person are you?

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