Summary: When life gets hard, don’t grumble; grow! Don’t test the Tester; trust Him to bring you through the test a better person.
A lawyer, a doctor, and a preacher went deer hunting together when along came a big buck. The three of them all shot at the same time, and immediately the buck dropped to the ground. They all rushed up to examine the deer, but couldn't determine whose shot had actually killed it.
They were in the middle of a heated argument when a game warden came by and asked what the problem was. The doctor told him that they were debating who shot the buck. The warden took one look at the buck and immediately pronounced, “The preacher shot the buck!” They all wondered how he knew that so quickly. To which the warden said, “Easy. The bullet went in one ear and out the other.” (As retold by P. J. Alindogan, The Potter's Jar blog, “Hearing”, 3-4-12; www.PreachingToday.com)
Ouch! Is that what people do with my preaching? Well, that’s okay with my words, but it can be a real problem if people allow GOD’S Word to go in one ear and out the other.
How about you? How about me? Do we hear God’s Word without allowing it to transform us?
That seems to have been Israel’s problem from the very beginning. God spoke to them through Moses, and God miraculously delivered them from the Egyptians through the Red Sea. Then, three days later, they seemed to have forgotten all that.
Exodus 15:22-24 Then Moses led Israel from the Red Sea and they went into the Desert of Shur. For three days they traveled in the desert without finding water. When they came to Marah, they could not drink its water because it was bitter. That is why the place is called Marah (which means bitterness). So the people grumbled against Moses, saying, “What are we to drink?” (NIV)
The bitterness of the water reflected the bitterness in their hearts. They had gone three days without water. They’re about to drop when in the distance they see an oasis. Their parched lips and dry throats can already taste the cool, clear water, but when they finally arrive and bend down for a cool, refreshing drink, they come up spitting out salt water. No wonder they grumbled, but how could they so quickly forget what God did for them just three days earlier?
Exodus 15:25a Then Moses cried out to the Lord, and the Lord showed him a piece of wood. He threw it into the water, and the water became sweet. (NIV)
They may have forgotten God, but God did not forget them. In His grace, He made the water drinkable. Then He gave them a test.
Exodus 15:25b-26 There the Lord made a decree and a law for them, and there he tested them. He said, “If you listen carefully to the voice of the Lord your God and do what is right in his eyes, if you pay attention to his commands and keep all his decrees, I will not bring on you any of the diseases I brought on the Egyptians, for I am the Lord, who heals you.” (NIV)
God promised to keep them from Egyptian diseases if they listen to Him.
Exodus 15:27 Then they came to Elim, where there were twelve springs and seventy palm trees, and they camped there near the water. (NIV)
God abundantly provides for His people!
Exodus 16:1-3 The whole Israelite community set out from Elim and came to the Desert of Sin, which is between Elim and Sinai, on the fifteenth day of the second month after they had come out of Egypt. In the desert the whole community grumbled against Moses and Aaron. 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.” (NIV)
There they go again – grumbling! They not only forgot how BAD Egypt was, but also how GOOD God had been to them. It’s like it all went in one ear and out the other. But even though they forgot God, God did not forget them.
Exodus 16:4-8 Then the Lord said to Moses, “I will rain down bread from heaven for you. The people are to go out each day and gather enough for that day. In this way I will test them and see whether they will follow my instructions. On the sixth day they are to prepare what they bring in, and that is to be twice as much as they gather on the other days.” So Moses and Aaron said to all the Israelites, “In the evening you will know that it was the Lord who brought you out of Egypt, and in the morning you will see the glory of the Lord, because he has heard your grumbling against him. Who are we, that you should grumble against us?” Moses also said, “You will know that it was the Lord when he gives you meat to eat in the evening and all the bread you want in the morning, because he has heard your grumbling against him. Who are we? You are not grumbling against us, but against the Lord.” (NIV)