We don’t want God to lead us; we want Him to serve us. Israel continually proves this. God uses Moses to lead them but they repeatedly grumble against God and rebel against His instructions. If they don’t grumble, they just ignore His guidance. They’re no different than us.
God miraculously liberated them from slavery and then they want Him to be their servant. If He will not serve them, they would rather suffer as slaves. Their rebellion causes them to remember the experience pleasantly.
Pride is their biggest problem. Throughout the Bible, we are told that our pride places us in opposition to God (Proverbs 3:34, James 4:6, 1 Peter 5:5). That’s exactly what we see here.
God is gracious and loving, but He demands that we submit to Him. He promises to provide, but we have to forsake our agenda and follow His. If we obey, He promises to bless us. His intent is not to harm but to heal.
God sends trials to test their hearts. In each, He gives simple instructions to see if the people will obey Him. It isn’t difficult. Throw a specific piece of wood in the water. Gather enough food for your family for one day. Don’t store any. Gather enough for two days before the Sabbath. Trust me to provide bread from nothing. Trust me to do it again. Instead of obeying, they repeatedly ignore His commands.
We are no different than the Israelites. We don’t want a God who leads us. We don’t want to obey Him. We’re rebels. Slavery to a cruel taskmaster is preferable to humbling ourselves before a loving God.
Jesus demonstrated that suffering brings us closer to God (Hebrews 2:10, 1 Peter 2:21). Suffering perfected Jesus because He saw trials as a test from God, humbled Himself and trusted God.
Our suffering will either be pointless or purposeful. It all depends on how we approach it. We should learn from the example of Jesus and not that of the Jews. In times of suffering, submit yourself to God, continue to do good, and trust Him.
1. How can the Israelites turn from prison to praise to protest so quickly?
2. What is the essence of their complaint and God’s cure? Why hadn’t God led Israel to sweet water in the first place? What was his object lesson?
3. Marah and Elim are about 9 miles apart. What does that say about our patience? God’s provision? His discipline?
4. What were the promises and requirements associated with God’s provision of the manna? Why provide food that only lasts one day (vs. 19-21)? What was different about the sixth and seventh days (vs. 22-30)? What does this say about the trust relationship that God requires?
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