Summary: This is the ninth message in a series over the life of Moses that shows being God's man is never easy.
The word “test” or “exam” causes most people to get an uneasy feeling in the pit of their stomachs. However, tests are a normal part of our lives. We take tests in school, to get our driver license and often they are given to determine the best candidate for a job. The purpose of a test is to see if we have command of the necessary knowledge that is needed for a particular task. The dreaded essay question is the best way to see if someone has command of particular area of knowledge. The essay question digs beyond the routine regurgitation of facts and figures and shows if our command of the knowledge includes knowing how to use the information. Knowledge is worthless without application. God often takes us into the wilderness testing room to determine if we truly have command of the knowledge that He desires us to have. The spiritual tests are extremely grueling and difficult but they are necessary for God to craft our character and to develop us into the person that He desires us to be. In our text this truth will become clearly evident when the Hebrew people will begin a series of exams in the desert. The interesting fact that we will see is that the Hebrew people responded to God’s tests much like we do. We need to approach this text with an open mind so that we can clearly see the lessons that God desires us to learn. These lessons are much like a study guide for a mid-term exam because if we use them properly we will be able to pass our spiritual tests on a consistent basis.
I. Getting a picture of what’s happening with the Hebrews.
A. Witnessing God’s ultimate victory over the Egyptians has lead to an extended time of worship.
1. Chapter 15 of Exodus opens up with a victory song by Moses known as the “Song of the Sea.” This is more than likely the earliest written part of the book.
2. The song is a deep confession of faith in Yahweh praising Him for His great victory over the Egyptians.
3. The people not only focus on what has happened but they look forward toward the future implications of God’s victory at the Red Sea.
4. God because of His mercy and love for His people He would now continue to lead them so He can deliver them into the land that He has promised.
5. The Hebrews have learned through this experience that God’s power is sufficient to handle every problem that may arise.
B. Getting geographical fix on the Hebrews’ position.
1. The people have begun their journey from the Red Sea to Sinai.
2. They find themselves in the wilderness of Shur which is a very desolate place which borders the eastern edge of Egyptian territory.
3. Shur is part of what is now known as the Sinai Peninsula. It stretches from the eastern side of the Suez Canal to the Negev of Israel.
4. As we continue to journey with the Hebrew people to the Promised Land we will discover that Sinai was never an easy place to survive.
II. The five common responses to God’s tests.
A. Enjoyment of God’s abundant blessing.
1. Up to this point the Hebrew people have witnessed God’s abundant blessing as He has led them to freedom by defeating the Egyptians with His mighty power.
2. They have celebrated God’s victories and are obviously expecting more of the same as the journey continues.
3. The question is: did the enjoyment of God’s blessing set the Hebrew people up for failure?
B. An abundant blessing causes the expectation of more.
1. When you are living constantly under God’s hand of blessing it is easy to grow accustomed to that being the way things should be.
2. This will lead us to assume that we will never have any difficulties, God will simply keep blessing continuously in the same manner that we have grown accustomed to.
3. When the blessings begin to far short of our expectations it will often cause questions to arise in our mind.
4. These expectations will continuously cause major problems for the Hebrews throughout this journey.
C. When expectations are not met, disappointment surfaces.
1. When our expectations are not met, we will inevitably become disappointed.
2. Our disappointment will eventually lead us to question God about what is going on.
3. This will surface for the Hebrews as they journey three days through the wilderness of Shur without finding any water.
D. Disappointment will inevitably lead to complaints.
1. When we become disappointed with the fact that our expectations have not been met, our natural tendency is to complain.
2. We have learned throughout this series that the Hebrew people are complainers by nature, much like we are.