Greetings in the name of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit!
Praying for you, your family, your community, and the rest of the world. Right now, the whole world is suffering because of the Coronavirus (COVID-19). Let’s pray together to God, Our Ever-Loving Father, His mercy and protection on all, and God’s healing on those who are infected by the Coronavirus. We all believe God’s grace and love rest on all who look upon Him every moment with faith in Him.
The path of the righteous is like the morning sun, shining ever brighter till the full light of day. (Proverbs 4:18)
It was exactly one month after the people of Israel left Egypt, where they were slaves for 400 years. During the last one month, the people of Israel experienced God and the absolutely powerful God’s hand that utterly punished Egypt. God sent down the famous ten plagues on the Egyptians. God, then, made a way through the Red Sea for the people of Israel to walk on dry ground through the Red Sea. They saw the two walls of the Red Sea standing both sides, and they saw and were touched by the awesome power of God.
As soon as the people of Israel crossed the Red Sea, God made the water return to where it was and buried the Egyptian armies deep into the bottom of the Red Sea. The people of Israel saw the bodies of the Egyptians washed up on the seashore. God was faithful to the people of Israel as He made a covenant with Abraham. The people of Israel along with Moses praised God with their loudest voice and sang a song of praise for what God had done for them:
“I will sing to the LORD,
for he has triumphed gloriously;
he has hurled both horse and rider
into the sea.
The LORD is my strength and my song;
he has given me victory.
This is my God, and I will praise him—
my father’s God, and I will exalt him! (Exodus 15:1-2)
Miriam the prophet, Aaron’s sister, took a tambourine and led all the women as they played their tambourines and danced. And Miriam sang this song:
“Sing to the LORD,
for he has triumphed gloriously;
he has hurled both horse and rider
into the sea.” (Exodus 15:21b)
What a moment! God was with them, and the people of Israel experienced God’s presence. They witnessed God’s mighty act with their own eyes.
However, this excitement, thanksgiving, praises of the people of Israel did come after the people of Israel hit a truly low moment. Right after sending away the people of Israel, Pharaoh suddenly hardened his heart, and he decided to chase down the people of Israel to reclaim the people of Israel as their slaves again. Pharaoh summoned his best armies equipped with the best chariots, horses, swords, and spears. The people of Israel camped along the Red Sea per God’s command and saw the Egyptian armies rapidly approaching them. The people of Israel were in a panic and fell into great fear of the Egyptians chasing them. Then they lost their minds and became irrational. They thought that the Egyptians were coming to kill all, but it was not true. The Egyptians badly needed the people of Israel as their slaves. Upon being trapped in the great fear, the people of Israel complained and blamed God by telling to Moses:
“Why did you bring us out here to die in the wilderness? Weren’t there enough graves for us in Egypt? What have you done to us? Why did you make us leave Egypt? Didn’t we tell you this would happen while we were still in Egypt? We said, ‘Leave us alone! Let us be slaves to the Egyptians. It’s better to be a slave in Egypt than a corpse in the wilderness!’” (Exodus 14: 11b-12)
The people of Israel did harshly blame God. And they even praised the lives in Egypt as slaves. Yes, it was the lowest point of the people of Israel, and it happened just before crossing the Red Sea. Among the people of Israel, Moses was different. He trusted God and believed God would save the people of Israel. Didn’t Moses see the rapidly approaching Egyptian Armies making thundering noise of horses and chariots? Yes, Moses also saw the fearful Egyptian armies. Moses clearly heard the voice of desperation from the mouth of the people of Israel. Then Moses heard the praise of the people of Israel about the lives in Egypt as slaves. But Moses alone continued being faithful to God and prayed, and God answered. God split the Red Sea by using Moses’ raised hand in his absolute trust in Him. The people of Israel were not faithful to God. But God was faithful. God’s faithfulness was manifested by the faithful prayer of Moses, who absolutely trusted God and God’s faithfulness to His own people.
Then the people of Israel experienced the awesome of God – crossing the Red Sea on dry ground. However, the miracle of the Red Sea could not completely blot out their unfaithfulness buried deep in their hearts. Only three days later after crossing the Red Sea, it surfaced again. The people of Israel complained and turned against God. Their unfaithfulness could not hide long in their hearts. It exposed by itself while telling that they had an extremely shallow faith in God like a reed swayed by the wind.
Yes, they were in a really difficult situation. They were almost dying out of thirst after marching through the wilderness for three days without water. Medically speaking, not drinking water for three days leads to a critical health condition: fainting, hallucinating, and even to death. Didn’t he people of Israel pray? Yes, they prayed and prayed for water traveling through the wilderness. The scorching sun was high and the air was hot and dry. They searched and searched for water, but they had found none. What they saw was the dry desert for the last three days. All were so exhausted. Suddenly one shouted, “Look. There is an oasis.” Then all ran to the oasis. They thought that God answered their prayer. As soon as they got the oasis, and horridly put the water in their mouths. Then immediately all split out the water. The water was too bitter to drink. How bitter it was? Even the three days’ extreme thirst could not make them drink the water. Then they looked up heaven and complained. They turned against God.
Yes, it is understandable how disappointing it was to the people of Israel! They endured three days and prayed, but what they got was the bitter water that they could not drink. Even so, turning against God was correct behavior and again exposed their shallow faith like a reed swayed by the wind. The people of Israel, then, again became irrational. Why did they forget what was done by God only three days ago? Didn’t they walk through the Red Sea on dry ground? Hadn’t they seen the Egyptian armies’ bodies washed up on the seashore? Wasn’t God who did utterly destroy the Egyptians?
However, Moses was different. He trusted God even though he tasted and spit out the water like the other people of Israel. The water was too bitter to swallow. Moses also heard the complaint of the rest, but Moses believed God that He would again rescue them as He did before. Surely, Moses could have joined the rest, while blaming. Moses was tempted, but Moses was not swayed. He overcame the temptation in faith by fixing on eyes on God and remained faithful to God while trusting Him.
With this faith, when Moses cried out to God, God answered. God showed Moses a piece of wood. Moses threw it into the water, and this made the water sweet to drink! The bitter water became sweet. It was what God prepared even before Moses prayed to God, but only trusted Moses God. Prayer of the faithful is so powerful, which unlocks God’s power.
Elijah was as human as we are, and yet when he prayed earnestly that no rain would fall, none fell for three and a half years! Then, when he prayed again, the sky sent down rain and the earth began to yield its crops. (James 3:17-18)
Indeed, the world in which we are living is full of bitterness. We all experience the bitterness daily with a varying degree of strength. For example, the joy of crossing the Red Sea and the victorious moment of witnessing the bodies washed up on the seashore were short-lived. But the marching through the wilderness was long and tedious. They had to walk through the wilderness for three days, and the wilderness deprived of all of the joys and the victorious memory. The scorching sun along with the bone-dry wilderness drove them crazy. Then all things converged together to build up an extreme pressure to lead to a climax of the outbreak of their frustration, disappointment, and anger when they spit out the oasis water from their mouth, which was too bitter to drink.
The people of Israel turned against God, but Moses faithfully trusted God. Moses prayed and God answered. God made the bitter water sweet for the people of Israel. Yes, the people of Israel were unfaithful, but God was faithful to them and unconditionally. This is the reason why we can trust God. God can be always sure that God will carry us with His infinite patience toward us. Thus, we can take peace in Him under all circumstances.
Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7)
Despite the unfaithfulness of the people of Israel, God fully satisfied them with the sweet and refreshing water which was made by God. And God’s power was unlocked by the faithful prayer of Moses. We often feel that our life is full of bitterness, and it finds us wherever we go. It stays with us for a long time. But we have to trust God as Moses while believing that God will turn the bitterness in our lives into His sweet blessings, which will bring an endless song in our mouths.
He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear the LORD and put their trust in him. (Psalm 40:3)
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. Again, God gave water to drink for the people of Israel, and they were fully satisfied. God was truly faithful to the people of Israel, His chosen people.
So he brought his people out of Egypt with joy,
his chosen ones with rejoicing. (Psalm 105:43)
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. There, too, the whole community of Israel complained about Moses and Aaron.
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)
Exactly one month after leaving Egypt, they again complained to God. Can we remember how many times the people of Israel complained to God for just one month?
Three times! Yes, three times since they left Egypt. Here are their complaints and the reasons:
- Before crossing the Red Sea
- Due to the rapidly approaching Egyptian Armies
- When they found an oasis filled with the bitter water
- Because they could not drink the water
- Just one month later, and they were getting hungry
- Because they could not eat good meat and bread.
If we carefully look at the trend, we can see the trend was not so good. The first complaint was due to a true emergency situation because they were about to be killed by the Egyptians (although it was not true, but their perception). The second one was caused by a dire situation. They were almost dying due to not having water for three days through the journey of the wilderness. Finally, the third one. It is somewhat different. Why did they complain to God? Were they any emergencies that needed to be taken care of immediately?
No. In fact, no Egyptian armies were chasing them with swords and spears. They were not on the verge of dying out of the water after three days’ journey through the wilderness without water. But they complained because they could not eat meat and bread as they desired. Before God, they even falsely beautified the miserable lives in Egypt as slaves. How sad it was!
who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the power of the age to come— 6and who then turn away from God. It is impossible to bring such people back to repentance; (Hebrews 6:5-6a)
Even so, God was faithful to them. God, who saved the people of Israel from the Egyptian armies and the extreme thirst, provided again. Unfortunately, how the people of Israel responded to God did is a common sinful pattern of all human beings including us, who are living now in the 21st century. Why do all humans fall into this common sin?
We all know Peter who walked on water with Jesus, but he suddenly sank into the deep water. Peter saw the rapidly approaching huge wave much bigger than himself, and then his eyes were fixated at the huge wave instead of Jesus. Then a great fear fell on Peter, and he sank like a rock into deep into the stormy sea.
Surely it is not easy to fix on eyes on Jesus when a life storm quickly approaching us. We immediately realize that we are tiny compared with the storm. However, when we look back, we find again and again. It was not us, but Jesus who saved us out of the life storm. There is indeed no match between us and those life storms. We are completely outmatched. How much so? We even could not fix our eyes on Jesus by our own might and strength during the life storm. If not, it Is truly not a life storm. The life storm was so strong and treacherous that continuing fixing our eyes on Jesus is beyond our ability. We all know. Then how have been we surviving through those life storms?
Here is a well-known story about Jesus. One believer walked with Jesus throughout the believer’s life. The believer finally met Jesus. Together with Jesus, the believer looked back on the footprints imprinted on the believer’s life. There were clearly two sets of footprints. One for Jesus and one for the believer. How comforting! However, in some parts of the believer’s life, there was only one set of footprints. Soon the believer recalled that those times were the believer was in life storms. They were the periods that the believer truly needed Jesus. Thus, in curiosity, the believers asked, “Why were there my footprints only?” Then the believer looked at Jesus. Jesus lovingly and calmly looked at the believer’s eyes for a while. And then Jesus answered, “Those footprints are mine, not yours. I carried you on my back until you could walk again with me.”
The answer is Jesus. Jesus carries us through our life storms. Our life storms are so fierce that we even had no strength to fix our eyes on Jesus Christ, but Jesus, who is infinitely faithful, carries us through our life storms. This is the promise and assurance of the grace of our merciful ever-loving Father. Jesus, who quickly stretched His hands to grab Peter and pull him out of the deep water, even today and at this moment, stretched out His merciful hand and grab us to keep from us to fall into the deep water of our life storm.
Moses had this faith and cried out to God while absolutely trusting God. Please don’t think that Moses was not tempted like the rest of the people of Israel. He had the same temptation for meat and bread. Additionally, Moses was blamed because of his faith in God. The whole community of Israel complained to Moses. But Moses trusted God and humbly prayed to God for the people of Israel.
Moses was truly patient and humble. Imagine if we like Moses split the Red Sea by just raising his hand, then how much prideful about ourselves are we before others? Moses was humble to the people of Israel and God beyond all of the Israelites although he was the very leader of two million people by leading through the Red Sea and the wilderness. Then he also turned the bitter water to sweet by dropping a branch into the water. His humility had never changed like his faith.
Now Moses was a very humble man, more humble than anyone else on the face of the earth. (Numbers 12:3)
Moses cried out to God in prayer, God answered 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 16:4b-5)
The people of Israel were the stiff-necked people. When they had the slightest pain in their lives, they complained. They were also prone to forget what God did for them. Even so, God was faithful to them. Indeed, God continued loving them, and they were just whining babies in God’s eye.
Indeed, there was a direct route from Egypt to the Promised Land. It would take only a week. However, God did not allow them to walk directly to the Promised Land after leaving Egypt. The Promised Land was already occupied by the six nations, and the people of Israel was too weak to fight against even one nation. They were slaves for 400 years, and the six nations had strong armies to protect and fight against any external threats. A fight between the people of Israel and one of the nations would have had been a slaughter of the people of Israel by the nation. As they were, it was impossible to occupy the Promised Land. However, later, indeed, the people of Israel got into the Promised Land and occupied. How was it possible? It was done by faith, not by force, such as swords and spears. By that time, they became an adult in faith by getting out of being babies in the faith. We will have a chance to share the details of how the people of Israel occupied the Promised Land.
Indeed, God had His glorious plan for the people of Israel, and God, who was infinitely faithful, patiently led the people of Israel through the paths of righteousness. The people of Israel complained, but God was deaf to their complaints because God was infinitely faithful. The people of Israel wanted to go back to Egypt to be slaves again, but God continued shepherding them to the Promised Land as He made the covenant with Abraham. God never changed for the people of Israel. Once God makes a covenant with us, God keeps the covenant no matter what happens. This is the reason why we can trust Him always and under any circumstances.
God provides. Yes, God always provides for us to grow in Him. God, who knows all things about us, continues nurturing us so that we can grow deep into him till fully mature in Him.
God then told Moses for the people of Israel that He would rain down food from heaven to satisfy the people of Israel. As we know, what God really wanted was for the people of Israel to clearly see their faith and spiritually grow although we might fall and bruise while baby-stepping in Him. For example, gathering twice on the sixth day for the seventh day was not difficult to follow. But it was the right dose of God’s nurturing plan for them to practice a baby-step in Him. God was the true shepherded for the people of Israel.
By the way, we often think God blesses us to have fun and good life on earth, but it does not tell the entire story of God’s blessings. Don’t be wrong. God wants us to have a blessed life on earth, but God’s real desire is for us to have an intimate and deepening relationship with Him because we are His beloved children. Are there any parents not wanting to have an intimate and deepening loving relationship with their children? Our God is the Ever-Loving Father. God truly wants is for us to taste His unfathomable love, and walk the walk with God while enjoying the deepening loving relationship with Him, Our Ever-Loving Father.
Therefore, God did not provide the food from heaven to just satisfy the people of Israel, but what God truly wanted was for the people of Israel to build up faith that was strong enough to allow them to go in and occupy the Promised Land. The people of Israel had already failed three times in just one month, but God tenaciously holds of the people of Israel with His never-ceasing love with his unfailing faithfulness to His own beloved people.
So far, we have shared about what God wanted from the people of Israel. Then it is time to think about what God wants from us? What God wants is the exactly same as that of the people of Israel. God wants to have an intimate and deepening loving relationship with us. God loves to see our ever-deepening faith in Him by trusting Him in all circumstances in our life storms. Then what does happen in this world when we endure by trusting Him under situations that most unlikely to keep our faith, such as our truly painful life storms that scare off all except those who truly trust Him till the end? The answer is simple, God and His love are manifested as a light shining through the darkness around us. Yes, God will be magnified and people see and gather around Him.
In other words, when we continue fixing our eyes on Jesus Christ, although we are hitting hard by our life storm, in faith in Him, our lives start radiating His light around us, which is His love, mercy, and grace. Surely, we might not as great as Moses and Elisha, but we will surely a small light that shines in the dark night sky, which can be seen by many even from far away. Brothers and sisters in Christ, therefore, let’s continue fixing our eyes on Jesus Christ while trusting God. And as the life storm hitting harder, we do more so. Then we will shine brighter in Him, which is our hope and faith in Him.
“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. (Matthew 5:14-16)