Summary: God rescued the Israelites through a series of miracles- but when the going got tough, the Israelites always wanted to return to Egypt. When our going gets tough, do we trust God to provide or do we long for the "good ol’ days" of Egypt?
The Grass is Always Greener (On the Other Side of the Sea)
Exodus 15:22-16:9; 16:35; 17:1-7
I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but some people are just never happy! No matter what you do – it’s just not right. These people can always find something to complain about! When I waited tables, I was always amazed at what people could complain about! We had one couple who came in to the restaurant on the same night of the week, every week. They ordered the same food, and it was NEVER right. Some weeks it was over cooked, some weeks it was under cooked. Some weeks the sun was too bright shining on the table and some weeks the lights weren’t bright enough. No matter what we did to try and please them, they could always find something to complain about! Have you met anyone like this?
I have certainly met people like this in life and even in the scriptures! Take the Israelites, for instance. It seems like no matter what God (or Moses) did, the Israelites could always find some reason to complain and to long for the good old days when they were slaves in Egypt.
Last week in our scripture reading from Exodus chapter 2, we read, “Now it happened in the process of time that the king of Egypt died. Then the children of Israel groaned because of the bondage, and they cried out; and their cry came up to God because of the bondage. So God heard their groaning, and God remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac and with Jacob. And God looked upon the children of Israel and God remembered them.” (Exodus 2:23-25) The life in Egypt was so bad, that the Israelites GROANED and complained and cried out to God for help - (and as we all know, the human condition is such that it usually takes us a LONG time before we remember to cry out to God for help!)
But finally the Israelites cried out to God, remembering the covenant and the promise that had been made between God and Abraham. They knew that the land on the other side of the Sea (out of reach of Pharaoh) meant freedom. They knew that the Promised Land was a land of milk and honey – and they couldn’t wait to get there! So God heard their cries and put into place all the workings to redeem and rescue the Israelites from their bondage. God worked a series of miracles before the eyes of the Israelites and the Egyptians. These miracles – from the Nile turning to blood to the death of the firstborn of all Egyptians to the parting of the Red Sea – all led to the joyful celebration of the Israelites on the far side of the Red Sea. The side that meant - freedom!
The Israelites celebrated, danced and sang their praises to God who through his miraculous might had brought them safely to the greener grass of the other side of the sea. But their joy was short lived.
Three days after crossing the Red Sea and praising God for all God’s miracles, the Israelites began grumbling. They cried out (not to God, but to Moses) “There’s no water! What shall we drink?” Moses cried out to God and once again, God provided. God heard their cries and sweetened the water so they and their animals could drink it. And the Israelites were happy…for a time.
But then God’s command came and they moved from that place. When their journeyed was just 2½ months old, Israelites again began grumbling against Moses and Aaron saying, “O that we had died by the hands of the Lord in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the pots of meat and when we ate bread to the full! But you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger!”
Whoa! Hold your horses! Two months ago, you were complaining that you were in Egypt. Now God has rescued you by a series of miracles. He has provided for you sweet water to drink. And NOW you are wishing you were back in Egypt because there was meat and bread there? Now that you’ve been rescued you now want to return to the green grass on the other side of the sea again!
But, once again, Moses called out to God and God sent manna from heaven.
And the Israelites were happy… for a time.
In truth, we humans have a very short memory for God’s providence! We seem to forget all the times God provides for us in our times of need. And again as the Israelites continue on their journey they arrived where there seems to be no water and again they cried out – not to God - against Moses, complaining about their life and longing for the “good ol’ days of Egypt”. And again, Moses cried to God and God heard him and provided water from a rock.