Summary: Using the exodus of Israel to call the church to obey GOD’s call to tithe.
A couple of weeks ago we talked about the Israelites preparing to leave their bondage in Egypt. You will remember they were told to prepare an unblemished, year-old, male lamb by roasting him whole, and they were to eat this lamb completely with no left-over’s. They were to supplement this meal with bitter herbs and unleavened bread which would later symbolize the bitterness of their slavery and the hurried way in which they left Egypt. Another aspect of this meal was the Israelites were to eat it "dressed for travel, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand. You are to eat it in a hurry." All of this preparation preceded them being released from their slavery in Egypt.
After the events of that horrible night, at least horrible for the Egyptians, Pharaoh surrendered to Moses request and "the Egyptians pressured the people in order to send them quickly out of the country, for they said, ’We’re all going to die!’" As they began getting their belongings together and preparing to leave "The Israelites acted on Moses’ word and asked the Egyptians for silver and gold jewelry and for clothing. And the LORD gave the people such favor in the Egyptians’ sight that they gave them what they requested." Israel then marched out of Egypt as a freed people, freed by GOD’s rich grace and mercy.
Shortly after their departure Pharaoh recapitulated, called his chariot army together, and pursued the Israelites. Very soon Israel found themselves caught between the Red Sea and the advancing Egyptian army, "They said to Moses: “Is it because there are no graves in Egypt that you took us to die in the wilderness? What have you done to us by bringing us out of Egypt? Isn’t this what we told you in Egypt: Leave us alone so that we may serve the Egyptians? It would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the wilderness.’" But we all know how this situation was resolved and once again, by GOD’s mercy, they were spared destruction. In order to make Israel sound like more than a bunch of whimpering ingrates, they did gather and sing praises to the LORD once the Red Sea had completely destroyed Egypt’s army, "Miriam sang to them: Sing to the LORD, for He is highly exalted; He has thrown the horse and its rider into the sea."
As they continued their journey through the wilderness, heading toward this land of milk and honey Moses had so eloquently promised, they became thirsty. "They journeyed for three days in the wilderness without finding water. They came to Marah, but they could not drink the water at Marah because it was bitter... people grumbled to Moses, “What are we going to drink" So he cried out to the LORD, and the LORD showed him a tree. When he threw it into the water, the water became drinkable." Are you getting the picture here; the people of Israel were hard to satisfy, difficult people?
This whole story of the exodus would make a great television series. If it were a TV show, what I have just covered would have been prefaced with a voiceover saying, "Scenes from previous episodes." Following an indeterminate number of commercials this week’s episode would begin with an actor continuing from last week’s dialogue. This sermon is not much different from that television show. As we read our Old Testament text for this week we once again find "The entire Israelite community grumbled against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness. The Israelites said to them, ’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 of hunger!’"
Thinking about it more, this would probably be a number one hit on television; the plot is shallow and repetitive, does not require much thought to catch the underlying meaning of the dialogue, and is just irritating enough upon our emotions to make us come back and watch more. There is also enough whining and complaining to bring it to the level of one of the "most watched" shows on television. But this is not a television show, this is a story of real people; their travails, travels, and challenges to a loving generous GOD.
How generous and loving is this GOD? As Israel departed Egypt, the Egyptians gave them silver, gold jewelry and clothing. When they were trapped by their adversary, GOD provided them escape and annihilated their enemy. As their journey continued and they became thirsty, GOD granted them with abundant water. Now as they journeyed farther their provisions were running low and they were once again supplied with sufficient bread and meat, "The LORD spoke to Moses, ’I have heard the complaints of the Israelites. Tell them: At twilight you will eat meat, and in the morning you will eat bread until you are full. Then you will know that I am the LORD your GOD.’"