CRISIS FACED DURING ISRAEL'S WANDERINGS
Exodus 12:37-39 (KJV)
37 And the children of Israel journeyed from Rameses to Succoth, about six hundred thousand on foot that were men, beside children.
38 And a mixed multitude went up also with them; and flocks, and herds, even very much cattle.
39 And they baked unleavened cakes of the dough which they brought forth out of Egypt, for it was not leavened; because they were thrust out of Egypt, and could not tarry, neither had they prepared for themselves any victual.
The fact that there were 600,000 soldiers in the nation of Israel indicates that there must have been at least two and a half million total people in the camp. This is a lot of people to wander in the wilderness for forty years.
They did not need to wander. The wandering came as a result of unbelief, fear, and refusal to obey God. Their sins were so great that God wanted to wipe them out. The forty years of wandering was the mercy of God, a result of Moses' intercession.
THE GUIDE FOR THE WANDERING
Ancient armies used fires and pillars of smoke (burning braziers were lifted up on poles) to lead vast armies. They had no radios, etc. to aid their communications. So God used a pillar of smoke and fire by night to lead His people. The whole camp could see the pillar of smoke or the fire and thereby know where the camp was going.
God was teaching us that we are not to listen to mankind, but each saint is to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit. He will lead us, as the cloud led the Israelites. When we follow mankind, no matter how saintly they are or seem, it can lead to failure.
CRISIS OF THE WANDERINGS
FIRST CRISIS - WATER
Exodus 15:22-27 (KJV)
22 So Moses brought Israel from the Red sea, and they went out into the wilderness of Shur; and they went three days in the wilderness, and found no water.
23 And when they came to Marah, they could not drink of the waters of Marah, for they were bitter: therefore the name of it was called Marah.
24 And the people murmured against Moses, saying, What shall we drink?
25 And he cried unto the LORD; and the LORD shewed him a tree, which when he had cast into the waters, the waters were made sweet: there he made for them a statute and an ordinance, and there he proved them,
26 And said, If thou wilt diligently hearken to the voice of the LORD thy God, and wilt do that which is right in his sight, and wilt give ear to his commandments, and keep all his statutes, I will put none of these diseases upon thee, which I have brought upon the Egyptians: for I am the LORD that healeth thee.
27 And they came to Elim, where were twelve wells of water, and threescore and ten palm trees: and they encamped there by the waters.
Water is heavy (62 lbs. per cubic foot). Water is used in huge quantities. So it was normal to run out of water first. Imagine how much water two and a half million people would need. In the wilderness, thirst soon came.
They searched for water, and came to Marah, but found it bitter. The word "Marah" means "bitter". Just as darkness comes before daylight, the fall came before salvation, the wilderness came before Canaan, so Marah had to come before Elim.
Marah was a basin of the well of bitter waters. It is eight foot in diameter, and two feet deep. Even now it contains sulphate of lime, magnesia, soda, potash, chloride of sodium, bituminous matter, silicic acid, and carbonic acid. Certainly it is easy for us to understand why the water was bitter. These chemicals make the waters unfit for drinking. The Arabs seldom allow even the camels to drink of it.
When the people began to murmur, God showed Moses a tree. When the tree was plunged into the water, the water became sweet. The tree like the cross sweetens the bitterness of our sin by divine forgiveness.
They found a second supply of water at Elim. It was an apparently natural oasis. Finding water at Elim was a result of being led of God. When we learn to apply the "cross" to the bitter "Marah" events of life, and trust God, He will lead us to an "Elim". Some rebel at the "Marah"s of life, and thus have not allowed God to lead them on to the "Elim"s.
SECOND CRISIS - FOOD
Exodus 16:1-36 (KJV)
1 And they took their journey from Elim, and all the congregation of the children of Israel came unto the wilderness of Sin, which is between Elim and Sinai, on the fifteenth day of the second month after their departing out of the land of Egypt.
2 And the whole congregation of the children of Israel murmured against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness:
3 And the children of Israel said unto them, Would to God we had died by the hand of the LORD in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the flesh pots, and when we did eat bread to the full; for ye have brought us forth into this wilderness, to kill this whole assembly with hunger.
4 Then said the LORD unto Moses, Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you; and the people shall go out and gather a certain rate every day, that I may prove them, whether they will walk in my law, or no.
5 And it shall come to pass, that on the sixth day they shall prepare that which they bring in; and it shall be twice as much as they gather daily.
6 And Moses and Aaron said unto all the children of Israel, At even, then ye shall know that the LORD hath brought you out from the land of Egypt:
7 And in the morning, then ye shall see the glory of the LORD; for that he heareth your murmurings against the LORD: and what are we, that ye murmur against us?
8 And Moses said, This shall be, when the LORD shall give you in the evening flesh to eat, and in the morning bread to the full; for that the LORD heareth your murmurings which ye murmur against him: and what are we? your murmurings are not against us, but against the LORD.
9 And Moses spake unto Aaron, Say unto all the congregation of the children of Israel, Come near before the LORD: for he hath heard your murmurings.
10 And it came to pass, as Aaron spake unto the whole congregation of the children of Israel, that they looked toward the wilderness, and, behold, the glory of the LORD appeared in the cloud.
11 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
12 I have heard the murmurings of the children of Israel: speak unto them, saying, At even ye shall eat flesh, and in the morning ye shall be filled with bread; and ye shall know that I am the LORD your God.
13 And it came to pass, that at even the quails came up, and covered the camp: and in the morning the dew lay round about the host.
14 And when the dew that lay was gone up, behold, upon the face of the wilderness there lay a small round thing, as small as the hoar frost on the ground.
15 And when the children of Israel saw it, they said one to another, It is manna: for they wist not what it was. And Moses said unto them, This is the bread which the LORD hath given you to eat.
16 This is the thing which the LORD hath commanded, Gather of it every man according to his eating, an omer for every man, according to the number of your persons; take ye every man for them which are in his tents.
17 And the children of Israel did so, and gathered, some more, some less.
18 And when they did mete it with an omer, he that gathered much had nothing over, and he that gathered little had no lack; they gathered every man according to his eating.
19 And Moses said, Let no man leave of it till the morning.
20 Notwithstanding they hearkened not unto Moses; but some of them left of it until the morning, and it bred worms, and stank: and Moses was wroth with them.
21 And they gathered it every morning, every man according to his eating: and when the sun waxed hot, it melted.
22 And it came to pass, that on the sixth day they gathered twice as much bread, two omers for one man: and all the rulers of the congregation came and told Moses.
23 And he said unto them, This is that which the LORD hath said, To morrow is the rest of the holy sabbath unto the LORD: bake that which ye will bake to day, and seethe that ye will seethe; and that which remaineth over lay up for you to be kept until the morning.
24 And they laid it up till the morning, as Moses bade: and it did not stink, neither was there any worm therein.
25 And Moses said, Eat that to day; for to day is a sabbath unto the LORD: to day ye shall not find it in the field.
26 Six days ye shall gather it; but on the seventh day, which is the sabbath, in it there shall be none.
27 And it came to pass, that there went out some of the people on the seventh day for to gather, and they found none.
28 And the LORD said unto Moses, How long refuse ye to keep my commandments and my laws?
29 See, for that the LORD hath given you the sabbath, therefore he giveth you on the sixth day the bread of two days; abide ye every man in his place, let no man go out of his place on the seventh day.
30 So the people rested on the seventh day.
31 And the house of Israel called the name thereof Manna: and it was like coriander seed, white; and the taste of it was like wafers made with honey.
32 And Moses said, This is the thing which the LORD commandeth, Fill an omer of it to be kept for your generations; that they may see the bread wherewith I have fed you in the wilderness, when I brought you forth from the land of Egypt.
33 And Moses said unto Aaron, Take a pot, and put an omer full of manna therein, and lay it up before the LORD, to be kept for your generations.
34 As the LORD commanded Moses, so Aaron laid it up before the Testimony, to be kept.
35 And the children of Israel did eat manna forty years, until they came to a land inhabited; they did eat manna, until they came unto the borders of the land of Canaan.
36 Now an omer is the tenth part of an ephah.
The Israelites had fled in haste, so they took little food. The travelers figured on 40 days of food to cross this peninsula. They had been on the march more than 30 days when ran out of food. They murmured and said that they were better off in Egypt and longed for Egyptian fleshpots (pots full of meat and bread).
God promised to send quails in place of fleshpots, and manna in place of bread. Manna came daily, six days a week. Each person was allowed an omer a day (Exodus 16:16). An omer was 6 pints. This would mean about 15 million pints of manna a day. One pint per pound means 15 million pounds (7500 tons) of manna a day. This is 300 train carloads a day. All this happened everyday (except the Sabbath) for 40 years.
Jesus is called manna.
"This is the bread, which came down from heaven, not such as the fathers ate and died."
In Egypt and in Israel, the bread is a substantial part of the meal. Jesus is like manna come down from heaven. Like manna, we must partake of Him daily to sustain our Christian life.
A prescribed method of gathering manna was shown. God provided enough, without surplus or lack. God discourages hoarding in unbelief. The prosperity movement which teaches hoarding and greed, is in opposition to how the Lord has taught us to daily depend on Him for our "daily" needs. For many could have thought that the daily supply was the last, and have wanted to store up enough to last. God encouraged diligence in making use of the time of opportunity. God discouraged tardiness. In the same way, we are taught to seek the Lord while He may be found.
CRISIS THREE - WATER AGAIN
Exodus 17:1-7 (KJV)
1 And all the congregation of the children of Israel journeyed from the wilderness of Sin, after their journeys, according to the commandment of the LORD, and pitched in Rephidim: and there was no water for the people to drink.
2 Wherefore the people did chide with Moses, and said, Give us water that we may drink. And Moses said unto them, Why chide ye with me? wherefore do ye tempt the LORD?
3 And the people thirsted there for water; and the people murmured against Moses, and said, Wherefore is this that thou hast brought us up out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and our cattle with thirst?
4 And Moses cried unto the LORD, saying, What shall I do unto this people? they be almost ready to stone me.
5 And the LORD said unto Moses, Go on before the people, and take with thee of the elders of Israel; and thy rod, wherewith thou smotest the river, take in thine hand, and go.
6 Behold, I will stand before thee there upon the rock in Horeb; and thou shalt smite the rock, and there shall come water out of it, that the people may drink. And Moses did so in the sight of the elders of Israel.
7 And he called the name of the place Massah, and Meribah, because of the chiding of the children of Israel, and because they tempted the LORD, saying, Is the LORD among us, or not?
The long hot marches make the two and a half million people drink much water. When they reached Rephidim they were out of water again. An usual, the Israelites murmured. The Rock was to be struck by Moses, and water would come forth.
The type was to show that Christ (our Rock) was to be smitten once, and after that be an everlasting Resource.
I Corinthians 10:1-6
"...For they drank of the supernatural Rock Which followed them that Rock was Christ."
Can you imagine two million people beginning to cry out - "We're thirsty!" A water crisis is a real crisis. This water crisis happened several times.
There were three crisis of water. The first time they complained about water. God gave them a law that was to test their faithfulness.
"If thou wilt diligently hearken... give ear to His commandments... will put none of these diseases upon thee."
The second time (Rephidim), Moses went to God for help.
The third time (Kadesh Barnea) Moses became so infuriated that he disobeyed the specific instructions of God to not strike the rock more that the once he already had.
CRISIS FOUR - WAR
Exodus 17:8-16 (KJV)
8 Then came Amalek, and fought with Israel in Rephidim.
9 And Moses said unto Joshua, Choose us out men, and go out, fight with Amalek: to morrow I will stand on the top of the hill with the rod of God in mine hand.
10 So Joshua did as Moses had said to him, and fought with Amalek: and Moses, Aaron, and Hur went up to the top of the hill.
11 And it came to pass, when Moses held up his hand, that Israel prevailed: and when he let down his hand, Amalek prevailed.
12 But Moses' hands were heavy; and they took a stone, and put it under him, and he sat thereon; and Aaron and Hur stayed up his hands, the one on the one side, and the other on the other side; and his hands were steady until the going down of the sun.
13 And Joshua discomfited Amalek and his people with the edge of the sword.
14 And the LORD said unto Moses, Write this for a memorial in a book, and rehearse it in the ears of Joshua: for I will utterly put out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven.
15 And Moses built an altar, and called the name of it Jehovahnissi:
16 For he said, Because the LORD hath sworn that the LORD will have war with Amalek from generation to generation.
The Amalekites were cousins of Israel, and roamed as bedouins in the Sinai Peninsula. They began to attack the Israelites stragglers.
Deuteronomy 25:17 (KJV)
17 Remember what Amalek did unto thee by the way, when ye were come forth out of Egypt;
Moses appointed Joshua to choose out fighting men. They had success, and "mowed down" Amalek and his people with the edge of the sword."
Moses had Aaron and Hur on the mountain top. While Moses held his arms up, Israel prevailed. When his arms tired and dropped, the Amalekites prevailed. Aaron and Hur held up the arms of Moses. This teaches us a lesson of the need of intercessors to intercede for one another.
THE BURDEN CARRIED BY MOSES
Jethro (Reul) came to pay a visit to Moses and family. He was greeted in peace, they had a meal and talked over the problems of the day. The advice of Jethro was to divide the lessor duties to others to judge. So Moses sought out men of the Spirit (as the seeking out of deacons in the book of Acts). The text does not say if this was a mistake or not.
"God in distributing the burden shows Moses's power had all along been in proportion to his burdens."
Moses was under pressure from all the trials and tribulations of leading this wandering people.
"I am not able to bear all this people alone, because it is too heavy for me."
Moses did lead this wandering, bickering, doubting, sinful people through the wilderness. After forty years though, God had a people ready to go in and defeat the giants of the land. Trials, tribulations, and troubles of our ministry in this life will can be replaced with times of revival and blessing.
This last part of Jasher, and the book of Joshua show a time of victory, possession, inheritance, and revival. The once rebellious Israel is now a disciplined army. They were once slaves, but now are subduing. Israel found out how to claim the promises of God.
"There failed not ought of anything which the Lord had spoken ... all came to pass."
From the death of Moses until the death of Joshua was 24 years. This time of claiming what God had promised, was a revival period. We met Joshua at Rephidim. He led an army against the Amalekites. Moses stood on the hill, when his hands were lifted, Israel prevailed. When his arms tired, Israel began to lose. Aaron and Hur came to his aid. Joshua learned a lesson of the priority of spiritual over the physical. The Amalekites thought they were fighting the army of Israel, but they were against the prevailing prayer of Moses, Aaron, and Hur.