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The Israelites and Us
By Hannah Harrison
If I had to sum up the book of Exodus in one word, it would be “Moses.”
There’s a sense of nostalgia when it comes to reading the Exodus stories surrounding Moses. Many of us grew up watching the Prince of Egypt or learned about the plagues in Sunday School or VBS. However, it wasn’t until my most-recent read through that I paid closer attention to some characters in this divine story – the Israelites.
Pharaoh and the Egyptians were using the Israelites as slaves and forcing them to carry out dangerous work. They were cruelly treated and held in bondage by Pharaoh himself. After many warnings (and plagues), the Pharaoh released the Israelites, and the Lord delivered them from slavery. But the most interesting part of the story is not that they were rescued, walked through a parted sea, or lived to tell the tale. No, the real kicker is how they acted after God rescued them.
First, they were grateful. In Exodus 15, Moses lifts praises to the Lord. Throughout the book, he thanks God for His strength and mightiness, as well as His deliverance. Later in the book, Miriam and the woman sing and thank God for what He did, singing in praise. But in just a few short verses, their mindset changes.
“The Israelites said to them, ‘If only we had died by the Lord’s hand in Egypt! There we sat around pots of meat and ate all the food we wanted, but you have brought us out into this desert to starve this entire assembly to death’” – (Exodus 16:3).
When I was little and heard this story of the ungrateful Israelites, I chuckled. I thought, Ha! These people. God just let them walk through the sea, but here they are worrying about food? Craziness.
After all, these people had just seen the Lord split the sea, kill Pharaoh’s army, and deliver them from slavery. But here they are, complaining. On top of that, they’re mad at Moses, wishing the Lord would have let them die in Egypt, because at least if they had to die they would’ve been fat and happy instead of starving to death.
But now I realize…we are the Israelites.
Granted, we’ve never been in physical slavery or led through a sea to escape an Egyptian army, but He has still rescued us in many other ways. Maybe He rescued a loved one from death, given you a clean bill of health, protection on the road when you weren’t as focused as you needed to be, or maybe just another day of life.
Often, we’re quick to pray for His grace. We want what we want. Once that’s obtained; however, we forget how He answered our call. Sure, we lift a quick “thank you” or “Praise Jesus!” but before long, we’re backsliding back to our ungrateful mentality and wondering how we’ll ever get through the next disaster. We have become the Israelites.
That ungratefulness takes our eyes off the prize, and that prize is Jesus. If He can get us through our darkest days, don’t you think he’ll be able to take care of our daily and “hard” trials?
In Philippians 1:6, we have hope that if Christ has started a good work in us, He’ll be faithful to bring it to completion. He had started a good work in those Israelites, and they didn’t know it. They had no clue that thousands of years later there story would be told as a lesson. But we’re just like them. We lose focus and complain to God, asking the same old “why me question” when in reality, why Him? Why would a good God send His Son to die for me and daily grant me His grace?
He loves me, and He loves you.
“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you” – (Isaiah 43.2).