I recently spoke at the Lawrence Christian Fellowship on the Lawrence University campus in Appleton, Wisconsin. The students in the fellowship have a theme of service this year and gave me the assignment of speaking from Exodus 16.
The chapter gives the account of the Israelites a month and a half after leaving Egypt. God has answered their cries for deliverance from oppressive slavery in a foreign land. Moses and Aaron are leading them through a desolate wilderness. They are somewhere between Egypt and Mount Sinai.
Food is running short. Here is their response. “Then the whole congregation of the children of Israel complained against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness. And the children of Israel said to them, “Oh, that we had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the pots of meat and when we ate bread to the full! For you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger.”’
Exodus 16:2-3 (NKJV)
As I studied this chapter two things became apparent. First, God was providing a remedy for the Israelites. They were God’s people suffering in slavery. They had for years called out to God for deliverance and He was in the process of bringing that deliverance. Yet, the Israelites found as many people find today that in the midst of God’s powerful, magnificent deliverance, life can be hard.
God’s ministry to His people here is instructive. He tells Moses and Aaron that He will provide bread from heaven and cause a great number of quail to descend on the camp at evening. The bread from heaven, manna, will come each morning and does so throughout the wilderness journey. Notice how God brought relief to His people without compromising remedy.
God certainly did not grant their wistful plea to return to Egypt. Often people, in the midst of experiencing God’s remedy for their lives will want to turn back. But think about it. They could not go back to Egypt. The very place which had been the point of misery now seemed to them desirable even preferable to their current situation. It will often appear so as people begin to experience God’s remedy. We will do well to follow God’s example by ministry to them in the mist of these difficulties but never at the expense of remedy.
Larry Creamer is the Senior Pastor at Valley Baptist Church in Appleton, Wisconsin and a graduate of the Biblical Counseling Institute. Pastor Creamer graduated from the Baptist College of Florida, in Graceville, Florida, and completed his graduate studies at the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Ft. Worth, Texas.