“If only we had died by the Lord’s hand in the land of Egypt when we sat by pots of meat and ate all the bread we wanted. Instead, you brought us into this wilderness to make this whole assembly die together”Exodus 16:23
Without knowing the plan God had for them, the Israelites followed Moses out of Egypt for surely anything was better than the constant abuse they suffered as slaves in Egypt…
The children of Isaac, son of Abraham, had all through Joseph (Genesis 47:11) come to reside in Egypt where they made their homes but, after many years rather than living in luxury, they were slaves forced to work under the tyranny of the Egyptians (Exodus 1:11-14). However, through Moses God made a way for the people to escape but the route out of Egypt was blocked by the Red Sea. There were no other means of crossing for none of the people had boats on hand, but something extraordinary happened the sea divided and the people were all able to cross over safely (Exodus 14:21-22). As they continued to travel in the wilderness still not knowing where God was taking them, they physically saw God’s grace daily, as His pillar of Fire and Cloud directed the steps of the Israelites during the day and during the night (Exodus 13:21-22). The Israelites now having fleed Egypt were in the wilderness with little food to survive but a mighty God to provide.
Knowing the poverty and inhumane treatment that awaited them in Egypt and having spent the last days witnessing God’s complete power and authority over the Sea, the Air and even Fire they still wanted to return to Egypt.
Out of Egypt
Earlier this week as I was commuting to my new workplace, I thought of the children of God and how quick they were to want to head back to the former life, they didn’t trust that God would provide for their needs just like he had provided a way when there was no way. I was desperately missing my old workplace as it had for the last year become a source of comfort for me, I didn’t have to travel far, my boss was wonderfully approachable and I had become familiar with everyone. It was so easy for me to forget how everyday I had counted down 230 something days till the end of my contract or how I had felt I was essentially free labour. I thought of all of this on the train to work, and how God had been guiding me and has always provided bread and meat (Exodus 16:12) for me no matter where I was, that my source of comfort was not in where I worked or the university I went or the grades I got or the people I called friends, my source of comfort was God whether I realised this or not. I felt comfortable at my previous workplace because God was with me, there could have been so many things that would have made me feel insecure, but God was with me.
For the Israelites who had spent years without knowing God, they had still to learn and put their whole trust in Him and come to the realisation that all that they loved and valued and found comfort in was nothing without God.