I recently started a plan to read through the Bible chronologically in a year. I’ve started these plans many time before and never finished, so I’m really trying to stick it out this time. I usually get hung up when I start reading through stories that I already know or have already read… and let’s be honest, since I’ve started and stopped these reading plans multiple times, I’ve read the stories near the beginning quite a few times! Haha! So far this time is different, I’ve been able to read much more diligently and really glean new understanding of things. What’s really fascinating me are the lessons I’m learning from stories whose lessons I though I’d already learned. For example, while most people focus on trusting God when reading Job’s story, I learned a thing or two about friendship. Today, in reading Exodus, my eyes were opened to even more.
We all know the story; God protected the Israelites from the plagues he cast upon Egypt, He lead them out by a pillar of clouds and fire, He parted the Red Sea so they could cross and then closed back up just in time to swallow up Pharaoh’s entire army. It’s a miraculous story of God protecting His treasured people and bringing glory to His name. Throughout the whole ordeal, God is fighting Israel’s battle and proving that He is Lord.
“…I have planned this in order to display my glory through Pharaoh and his whole army…” Ex 14:4
“The Lord himself will fight for you. Just stay calm.” Ex 14:14
“When my glory is displayed through them, all Egypt will see my glory and know that I am the Lord.” Ex 14:18
So, God protects His people, He leads the Red Sea and destroys their enemy. After this the Israelites are elated, praising God with words like this:
“Who is like you among the gods, O Lord –
glorious in holiness,
awesome in splendor,
performing great wonders?”
They are so in awe of God’s power and what he has done for them. Unfortunately, it seems they soon forget this. God begins to lead them away from the Red Sea and it only takes them 3 days before they start complaining about the lack of fresh water. In Exodus 16: 1-2 we see that only one month after the great miracle of God parting the Red Sea, the Israelites start complaining again, this time wishing that God had just left them bound in slavery in Egypt. At times I wish I could just reach back into history and shake these people up a bit, look them in the eyes and wonder how they could be so near-sighted, so self consumed that they are missing out on the big picture. I wish I could say something like:
“Hello????? Do you not remember that just ONE month ago God parted the Red Sea and granted you safe passage only to completely swallow up your enemy????”
Seriously, were things in those 30 days that much worse than being slaves to the Egyptians?
But again, God provides for them. For 40 years he provides manna and quail to sustain them. Enough to meet their needs, not too much and not too little. Yet when He leads them to another place, they complain again because there is no water.
All I can think when I read this is “Wow! Why don’t they just trust that God’s protecting hand is on them? Where is their faith?”
Of course, from our perspective it seems so easy. God protected them again the plagues, led them through the Red Sea, provided manna from heaven, so why can’t they just get it through their heads that He has a plan and will continue to sustain them? But in many ways, we are just like the Israelites when it comes to our faith and trust in God. While we’re going through trials, our vision of the past is clouded and we fail to see what God has already brought us through. We get complacent in our current situation and forget to recognize God in our daily life.
Today, my prayer is that I don’t let my current situation blind me to what God has already done in my life. I don’t want to get so complacent that I can’t see where God’s hand has already lead me and trust that he knows the path he’s laid before me. I pray that I can rest in the hope of the following verses:
“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. In those days when you pray, I will listen. If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me. I will be found by you,” says the Lord. “I will end your captivity and restore your fortunes. I will gather you out of the nations where I sent you and will bring you home again to your own land.” Jeremiah 29: 11-14
Random question: Why do we always stop after verse 11 in Jeremiah 29? There is so much more in the following verses!