Greetings in the name of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
God is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. (Psalm 103:8)
The people of Israel experienced God’s hand again in Marah. They found the water in Marah after three day’s walk through the desert under the bone-dry hot sun. What they found was the water too bitter for them to drink. They complained and turned against Moses and God. Moses, who was faithful to God, cried out to God for help. God answered. God showed Moses a piece of wood. Moses threw it into the water, and this made the water good to drink. Indeed, God provided an opportunity to test (i.e., verify) their faithfulness to God, but they failed. Although they failed, God, who was merciful, made the water good to drink. Then God warned them again, “please listen carefully to the voice of Mine, your God, and do what is right in My sight, obeying My commands, and keeping all My decrees.” (Exodus 15:26a) And they all said “Yes”.
After leaving Marah, the Israelites traveled on to the oasis of Elim, where they found twelve springs and seventy palm trees. They camped there beside the water. They were fully satisfied by the plenty of the water of the oasis of Elim. They were happy. They all praised God because God provided plenty. Their faces were full of happiness and their hearts were completely satisfied. No complaint could be heard from any of the people of Israel, because they were satisfied. Specifically, they were all physically satisfied because materially they were blessed. They did not know this fact.
Then the whole community of Israel set out from Elim and journeyed into the wilderness of Sin, between Elim and Mount Sinai. They arrived there on the fifteenth day of the second month, one month after leaving the land of Egypt. That means, it was less than a month since they miraculously crossed the Red Sea. Less than one month period, they complained twice – before crossing the Red Sea, and after three days of crossing the Red Sea when they arrived in Marah because the water in Marah was too bitter. For both cases, God stretched out His mighty hand, and protected the people of Israel — making them walk on dry land through the Red Sea, and turning the bitter water into water good to drink. Yes, God was slow to anger and truly compassionate to the people of Israel, although they complained whenever there was a chance to complain rather than trusting Him. God, who was faithful, continued leading the people to the Promised Land. By that time, the people of Israel should have had learned and know about God, who was their patient and faithful God. God dearly loved the people of Israel.
There, again, the whole community of Israel complained about Moses and God! “If only the LORD had killed us back in Egypt,” they moaned. “There we sat around pots filled with meat and ate all the bread we wanted. But now you have brought us into this wilderness to starve us all to death.” (Exodus 16:3) How impossible were they! Their mouths were quick to complain, and their hearts were like chaff shifted by wind. As wind blew, their hearts were so easily blown away from God, and they asked for the miserable land of slavery only because their journey to the promised land was not easy. When they felt that the environment was too harsh, they were quick to complain by fixing eyes on what they saw. Instead they should have fixed their eyes on the promise of God while continuing walking as God guided. They did not. Let’s pause here and ask to ourselves: how would we respond to them if you were God?
Here is what God did to the people of Israel.
Then the LORD said to Moses, “Look, I’m going to rain down food from heaven for you. Each day the people can go out and pick up as much food as they need for that day. I will test them in this to see whether or not they will follow my instructions. On the sixth day they will gather food, and when they prepare it, there will be twice as much as usual.” (Exodus 16:4-5)
It might be quite different from what you would do. Again, God provided. Let’s closely look at what God did to the people of Israel – His people, but those who always complained:
1. God was patient. He was truly slow to anger and compassionate.
2. God provided, and what God provided was beyond their imagination.
a. Bread from heaven like rain every day (from that day for the next forty years!) Who would think about this possibility when they complained? What they saw was a desert or a barren land. When they looked around, nothing. There was a zero possibility that edible crops were growing fast to feed them. They knew that it was IMPOSSIBLE to feed in the middle of desert. The total number of people could be as many as 2,000,000 because the number, 600,000 only counted men alone. This was the reason why they complained. They even insisted that it would be in Egypt as slaves. As slaves, they thought that at least, they could not die by starvation. This train of thoughts made them really mad. They complained to God.
3. God also gave them an instruction to follow
a. God miraculously provided daily food from heaven. Then on the sixth day, God gave them twice as much as usual so that they can gather twice of food. Then they could rest on the seventh day, i.e., the Sabbath as God rested after His creation.
b. This God’s divine providence also was a test to see whether or not the people of Israel follow God’s instructions. No, this is not a test to punish who fail, but an opportunity that the people of Israel test their faith before God. (Please note that God always provides an opportunity for His people to increase faith in God. This is God’s blessing for us.)
TThat evening vast numbers of quail flew in and covered the camp. And the next morning the area around the camp was wet with dew. When the dew evaporated, a flaky substance as fine as frost blanketed the ground. The Israelites were puzzled when they saw it. “What is it?” they asked each other. They had no idea what it was. Since then, the people of Israel called the food manna, which means “what is it” in Hebrew. It was white like coriander seed, and it tasted like honey wafers. In desert, they ate the heavenly food from God, which even so sweat and delicious like honey waters! Who did think about such food available in the desert for the 2,000,000 people over night? It was the power of the God.
GGod dearly loved the people of Israel. There is no other reason, but they were His people. God, who does not have a rotating shadow, is not like any human beings on earth who has a shadow and rotating with the sun. God has never changed and will not change forever. The same God, who dearly loved the Israelites with one reason of being His children, dearly loves us due to the same reason – we are His children. Yes, God loves us because we are His children. Not because we are righteous, God loves us, but because God Himself is love. How do we know that God is love? God demonstrated His love on the cross by sacrificing His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ for us, and through the blood of Jesus Christ, all our sins are forgiven. Thus, we, now, can approach God without fear and with confidence through the precious blood of Jesus Christ. Yes, we have been failing before God. Like the above Israelites, we easily forget God’s miraculous salvation from our sins and His faithfulness toward us. Even so, with unfathomable patience and grace, God always opens His loving arms, and He is waiting for us to come to Him so that He can embrace us in His bosom. This is the love of God. Come and take rest in His bosom, and taste His mercy and grace. Most of all, please enjoy His precious gift of eternal life of being His eternal children through Jesus Christ in the blood of Jesus bled of our sins on the cross.
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16)