"Then they set out from Elim and all the congregation of the sons of Israel came to the wilderness of Sin, which is between between Elim and Sinai, on the fifteenth day of the second month after their departure from the land of Egypt."
Soon after leaving the oasis of Elim, their parched and weary bodies refreshed by the cooling springs of water, appetites satisfied by the luscious dates provided by the palms, discord and complaint would soon ring out as hunger again gnawed at their bellies. The uncertainty of their food supply now on their minds, little did they know God already had a plan. Their questioning, like ours today, whether it be for food or shelter, vaccine or not, one two or three doses or more, one mask or three, what if we are exposed, what about this or that? It all comes down to, God, do we live in fear, mistrust, suspicion, accusation or do we go forward with faith and Your wisdom. For those wandering in the wilderness, their disbelief proved their undoing. For us, let's look toward Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith.
"Then they came to Elim where there were twelve springs of water and seventy date palms, and they camped there beside the waters."
The sons of Israel had begun their venture of faith with a series of trials that tested their faith, and then brought protection and the provision of the Lord. Time and time again the Lord would show Himself faithful towards His people, yet more often than not, they ended up picking at each other in complaint, really their grumblings were towards God. Trust and faith in Him are often an easier said than done type of happening in people's hearts, yet as we see here in this passage, deliverance from the bitter waters of Mara was right down the road. Too often we fail to see the difficulties through to the end, where God already has a plan of relief. Whatever you are going through today, continue to move forward in faith, looking for the springs of living water we have in Christ Jesus.
"And they were continually themselves to the apostles teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer."
I can't wait for Saturday morning and Sunday service declared one brother as he excitedly shared with the group of guys gathered for prayer. He was fired up as he sought to just talk story about his week with the guys before praying. It's so good as the body gathers to put into practice Acts 2:42. With all that has gone on this past year with Covid, the "new norm" for some may be distance learning, little or abbreviated fellowship and lack of the Lord's table, all key elements in the life of the believer. One writer said: "The Christian life is not meant to be lived in isolation. A single coal will soon lose its fire and become cold; but coals piled together will maintain an intense heat." Would we continue to be piled together that the love of Jesus Christ would burn with intensity in our midst.
"In Thy lovingkindness Thou has led the people whom Thou has redeemed; in Thy strength Thou has guided them to Thy holy habitation."
The lovingkindness of the Lord has been about His people as He rescued them and delivered them from the slavery of the world. Lovingkindness of course reminds us of two certain things, that He is, by His very nature a God of love, but not only that, He is a God who is kind. Attached to the definition of this word lovingkindness is also the fact of His grace and mercy towards His people. Not only a God of love, but His attributes hallmarked by kindness and grace and mercy. The Lord, in all of His gracious attributes, continues to move before us, on our behalf, leading us the way towards the upward call of Christ Jesus.
"Moreover, they shall take some of the blood and put it on the doorposts and on the lintel of the houses in which they eat it."
With explicit instructions for the Passover given, was the slaughter of the unblemished lamb whose blood was applied over the doorposts and lintels of the homes. Those within, would be as those covered by the blood of the lamb, under the shelter, protected and freed from death that would pass over the land. Many centuries later, John would see the fulfillment of the Passover....he saw Jesus coming to Him, and said, "Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!" (John 1:29) Let us all celebrate daily, what Jesus has done for us.
"He is not here, but He has risen. Remember how He spoke to you while He was still in Galilee, saying that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified, and on the third day rise again."
The cry from the garden tomb that fateful morning was "He has risen" still rings aloud today. Believers worldwide have proclaimed this message since the dawn of that morn. He has risen, becomes a mantra proclaimed by His children, no longer slaves to the fear of death, but the resurrection power that raised Christ, now dwelling in His people. We all cling tenaciously to life, for He has placed within us the will to live, but now instilled within our hearts is the undeniable truth that Christ in us, the hope of glory (Col 2:27), and knowing that He who raised Jesus will raise us also with Jesus (2 Cor 4:14). Death no longer the victor, but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through the Lord Jesus Christ (1 Corin 16:55,57).
"Therefore, our livestock too, will go with us; not a hoof will be left behind, for we shall take some of them to serve the Lord our God. And until we arrive there, we ourselves do not with what we shall serve the Lord."
Moses was very adamant with pharaoh, declaring that our wives, our children, our flocks and herds shall go with us. You might say that they were all in. No footsies with the world, nothing left behind to go back for, we're going to serve and worship our God was the cry. A great reminder for us, that we too ought to be so resolved in our determination to worship the Lord. Not focusing on the resistance of the world, the struggles of the flesh, the warfare of the devil, but pressing forward in the upward call of Christ Jesus.
And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased."
Just a few years earlier was the joyous sounds of the angelic choir as they serenaded the shepherds with the announcement of the birth of Christ, and truths of God. Now, just a few years later, this was turned to the somber crack of the whip, and the hammering of spikes as the crowds shouted out "crucify Him." His life and times culminated now with the week of passion, where the Saviour would face the brutality, and lay His life down for all mankind, and be resurrected on the third day. Sobering is the thought that God would come, laying aside all the vestiges of His Godhood, to be born of a virgin, and willingly lay His life down for us.
"Pharaoh sent men to investigate and found that not one of the animals of the Israelites had died. Yet his heart was unyielding and he would not let the people go."
Pharaoh stood in a very precarious place, at the crossroads you might conclude, where a great calamity might be avoided. Like with merging traffic, the oncoming cars having the right of way, those merging, hopefully, yielding the right of way to the fast-moving flow of cars, thus avoiding a serious pile up and all the ramifications. But Pharaoh, instead chose to plunge headlong, and suffer the consequences. Many, we'll see, within Egypt would suffer the consequences of his decision. At times, we too daily, make decisions either yielding to God's best for us, or going against the flow of the Spirit. Let's avoid the drama and heartbreak and always pray that for us, we seek God's will to be done in our lives.
But Moses said to the people, "Do not fear! Stand by and see the salvation of the Lord which He will accomplish for you today; for the Egyptians which you have seen today, you will never see them again forever."
Like most people today, the children of Israel had many fears, among which were their dreaded task masters. For so long, held captive, they were now urged to focus upon the Lord and trust that He was moving them from captivity to freedom. We today, held by many things that bring fear, many overloaded, burdened down by ongoing circumstances, most out of our control, need to stand by and see the saving grace of our Lord, working on our behalf.
"The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in lovingkindness."
As Moses came to Pharoah again and again, entreating him to let God's people to go so they could worship Him, the Pharoah continued to harden his heart. We made note that the word harden could be defined in varying ways, but all the definitions had the thought of pride being involved. Not only that, but also involved in the heart was a desire for a position of control and dominance. The flesh like Pharoah, has many similar attributes, but God is at work within the hearts and lives of many, for the believer, extricating things of the old nature that still cling on, and for the non-believer coming to a place of relinquishing self-rule and receiving Jesus as Lord and Savior. In all of this, remember God's grace working on behalf of all.
"....He swore to your fathers to give you a land flowing with milk and honey...."
As Israel exited Egypt, before them lay a great land filled with unknown. Unfriendly peoples, harsh conditions, limited food and water resources, little knowledge of the direction headed to a land that was only a fanciful tale of people that had long passed on. Yet was the reality of God's word spoken through His servant Moses. The promised land of Canaan was a good land, one that was filled green pastures and water, along with other resources that made it abundantly fruitful. Urged on by the Lord, they left behind them the old life of servitude and bondage, yet moving in faith having the promises of God's word. Very similar to life in Christ today for the Christian, He's delivered us from sin, now leading us, we press on toward the goal of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
"So Moses spoke thus to the sons of Israel, but they did not listen to Moses on account of their despondency and cruel bondage."
The cruel grip of the pharaohs hand seemed as if to encircle the throats of the hapless Israelites, choking the very life and vibrancy from them. Gone was the fire and drive that had first spurred them on, now without resolve, they failed to receive comfort and encouragement from the word of the Lord. Often, we respond in like manner, hammered by our circumstance, our world put out of order and in chaos, we fall into the grip of the lie. Rather than shut down, this is when we need to seek out the Lord even more fervently, for its He who is able to do and to accomplish beyond what we think or ask.