What We Need
Perhaps if you are anything like me it is at this point in our reading of the book of Exodus you begin to feel extremely annoyed with the Israelites.
Up until now we’ve seen the injustices they’ve endured at the hands of their oppressors and we’ve been cheering them on…begging God to intervene and save them.
But over the next few days we are going to be reading all about the extreme love and grace and provision of God for his beloved people.
About His protection over them.
His miraculous rescue and escape plan for them.
His continued sustenance of this million-person entourage traipsing across the barren desert landscape.
And together we’ll see that the overall sentiment from his people in response to these miracles could best be summarized by the word:
And maybe a shoulder shrug.
(To be fair, they did drop a song about God’s defeat of Pharoah in the Red Sea. That was more than a “meh.”)
But only 3 days after the SEA PARTED FOR THEM and they rocked out at their impromptu open air concert they start grumbling about the taste of the water they happened to find in the MIDDLE OF A DESERT.
(If you want a quick summary of the chapters we’re about to read check out this Saddleback Kids production on Moses. We use these videos a lot in Kids at The Well…hope you enjoy!
Before we get too judgey with the Israelites, lets take this opportunity to take a hard look in the mirror.
What is it about us as humans that we so easily forget our blessings?
Why are we so prone to focus on what we don’t have?
Why do we find ourselves sucked into worry and anxiety and discontent so easily?
So in light of this season of lent and the readying of our hearts and minds for Holy Week – lets read these chapters with a posture of self-awareness and humility so that the Holy Spirit can do His work in us.
Day 1: Protection
Reading: Exodus 11 and 12
This is it.
After weeks of bugs and blood and insects and indecision (by a stubborn, cruel and vindictive Pharoah) God decides to unleash the worst of the plagues and vows to take the firstborn son of every Egyptian family.
He activates the Angel of Death but not before providing protection for the Israelites.
He proceeds to guard every one of His people not through military might or even angelic armies, but through the blood of a perfect lamb.
Fast forward 1000 years and we read that John the Baptist exclaimed “Look, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29) when he saw Jesus for the first time .
So while we as Christians may not celebrate the Passover like our Jewish brothers an sisters, we are well aware of the protection the blood of our perfect sacrificial lamb provides.
Peter wrote “For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.” (1 Peter 1:18-19)
Reflect: Ask the Holy Spirit to help you remember different ways/times you have been protected over the course of your life. Thank God for His presence and care for you. If you feel as though He hasn’t protected you – tell Him! Express your feelings to Him – He can handle it! Ask him to protect you from anyone/anything that you feel under attack from.
Day 2: Escape
Reading: Exodus 13 – 15:22
One of my favorite movies of all time is the “Sound of Music”. When Maria (the beloved protagonist) is feeling trapped she quotes her beloved Reverend Mother “When God closes a door, He somehow opens a window”. Not sure how theologically sound that is…but stay with me.
In our reading today we see the Israelites needing much more than an open window – and God provides!
As you read: Imagine how the Israelites must have felt. Don’t just skim over these potentially familiar words. They were wandering when they felt like they should be running. They felt lost and out of control and then they looked up and saw 600 chariots and the people who had kept them as slaves coming after them. They had no weapons. They had no chariots. They had their children with them. And besides that A sea….not a puddle or pond or even a lake…. A SEA! …stood in their path of escape.
Reflect: When have you felt trapped? Is there a decision – either in the past or right now – you need to make that all of the outcomes seem terrible? Do you feel like God needs to make a way for you right now? Take a few minutes to listen to this song to bolster your faith in God’s escape plan for you!
And ask Him to give you the faith you are lacking to trust in His abaility to still part the seas in your life.
Day 3: Sustenance
Reading: Exodus 15:22 – 17:7
I can never read these passages that describe manna falling from heaven, and quails littering the earth, and water pouring from rocks without a deep conviction of my own lack of gratitude for the way God has provided for me.
I don’t think I’m alone.
In addition to my ungratefulness, I even fall into patterns of worry and self-pity over the things I perceive as necessities that I long for.
Jesus knew this was something we would struggle with in our lives – He even preached about it:
25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life[a]? 28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
Matthew 6: 25-34
Rejoice: Lets spend today listing all the ways God provides for you. List the little things and the big things. Cultivate gratitude in your heart and mind for the sustenance in God’s presence and provision for you. Keep the list with you today and keep adding to it as you go about your day.
At dinner time or before bed review the list and praise God for his goodness to you.
Day 4: Success
Reading: Exodus 17:8-16
The story of the Israelite’s battle and defeat of the Amalekites is a picture of a committed community submitted to God’s leading and power and authority.
I love how Joshua was on the battlefield, but Moses was praying, and Aaron and Hur were there to support.
If any of these people didn’t obey and step into their role/calling this battle could’ve ended very differently. But God honoured their obedience with success over their enemies.
I like this picture because it shows that stepping into your calling isn’t easy.
Moses’ arms are heavy, Aaron and Hur are tired.
And the battle rages beneath them.
Their obedience didn’t negate the war – it prepared and equipped them for it.
But it took all of them.
Read: Matthew 26: 36-46
Even Jesus needed his friends to come into battle with him. And they let him down – the didn’t keep watch and pray while he wrestled with God over the rescue plan that would cost him his life. But each time he found them sleeping he continued to invite them into the battle with him.
Reflect: Is there an area of your life that you are experiencing defeat? Who can you invite in to go to battle with you? Where has God already given you success? Ask for success!
Day 5: Wisdom
Read: Exodus 18
Perhaps its because of this Covid-19 stuff, but I’m feeling an innate need for wise counsel in my life. It seems that in the age of information we’ve lost the ability to discern and manage the immense amount of data we consume in a day. Moses gets that. As you read today’s passage, notice God’s provision of wisdom through the council of Jethro, Moses’ Father-in-law. One thing that struck me was that Jethro hadn’t been a part of the battles, the plagues, the enslavement in Egypt. In fact, he was an outsider that Moses could’ve dismissed because he wasn’t an Israelite and didn’t understand what they had been through.
Reflect: Do you think you’ve rejected wise counsel in your life because you dismissed the source as unqualified, inexperienced or too different from yourself?
Do you struggle to accept feedback, criticism or suggestions – especially from certain people? Or from God? Confess your reluctance to listen/submit and ask for a gracious heart and a discerning ear.
Ask God to make you attuned to His wisdom in your life and to bring wise counsel into your life.
20 Listen to advice and accept instruction, that you may gain wisdom in the future.
21 Many are the plans in the mind of a man,but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.