After reading Exodus, Leviticus, and Numbers, day in and day out for over a month I’ll tell you one thing, Moses would have been better off leaving his people in Egypt. What a pack of whingers! I always knew about the ‘Golden Calf’ incident during the impartation of the Ten Commandments, but the more you read the worse it gets.
Time and time again the Israelites find something to complain about. Take the manna from heaven for example. Roughly a million people are wandering the desert, they start grumbling that they are hungry, so God literally produces food from thin air. What a miracle! Catering for a million people in the blink of an eye. I can’t even get Maccas to give me the right amount of nuggets. But God, now there is a caterer.
Yet only a few chapters later, they start grumbling again.
It doesn’t matter how many times God comes through for the people of Israel, they continue to look back at their slavery as if they were the good ole’ days. Incase you haven’t read Exodus in a while, I’ll give you a quick play by play of the Israelites life in Egypt.
So first of all, in the 400 years or so between Moses and Joseph, the Israelites became slaves. In the picture Bibles we grew up with, the slavery thing was kind of glossed over, but really think about that for a moment. The Israelites were born slaves. They never had a holiday, never had a weekend, never could come and go as they wished. Their bodies were not their own. Their lives were not their own. Their futures were not their own. They lived without hope for a better life.
Now if slavery wasn’t bad enough, add the fact that the Egyptians began taking your baby boys and throwing them in the Nile to die a terrifying death. As a parent of four children, this reality is unfathomable.
What a terrible life to endure.
But then, hope.
God heard their cries and sent Moses and Aaron to deliver them.
Deliver them from slavery.
Deliver them from a life of pain devoid of dignity.
Deliver them from brokenness and heartache.
Not only that, throughout the process, God again and again shows his power, his faithfulness, and his love to a people that have done nothing to deserve it.
Usually that’s where the Sunday School lesson ends.
Unfortunately, the story takes a dark turn.
The Israelites begin to grumble and complain. They begin to say outrageous things about how life in Egypt wasn’t too bad; How at least in Egypt they had food andhow God was no longer faithful.
What a foolish people!
Freed from bondage
God miraculously freed them from bondage, and a few chapters later they want to go back. Life is not exactly how they expected so they are going to hop back over the Red Sea and put their shackles back on.
Yet, the more I read the grumblings and complaining of these idiotic Israelites, the more the Holy Spirit began pulling out the mirror.
Don’t you hate that? The moment you start thoroughly enjoying the ridiculous decisions of a group of people and start patting yourself on the back for not being as downright stupid as them, is the moment conviction steps in.
The more I read, the more I heard the still, small voice whisper…
“I am always faithful, yet you still worry about tomorrow”
I read more, the voice became louder…
“I stripped away your shame, yet you still hide your face”
A few more chapters, louder still…
“I demonstrated my awesome power to my enemies, yet you still fear”
A read until the voice of the Holy Spirit was shouting in my heart…
“I delivered you from sin and death, yet you willingly put the shackles back on”
The voice was clear.
I am an idiotic Israelite.
The same foolishness I so pridefully chastised the Israelites for, is rife in my own life.
God has given
God has given me life, and life to the full. A life full of grace. A life devoid of guilt and shame;A life of dignity and worth, and yet there are days after days after days where I begin the walk back to Egypt.
The Holy Spirit is doing a work in me. I’m looking forward to what lesson He will teach me next.
This Bible in a Year thing is starting to pay off.
Jason Gay is an Educational Leader in regional Queensland. Loving husband and father of four, Jason is passionate about seeing all generations equipped with everything they need for a successful and fulfilling life. He writes about politics, theology, and the big ideas of life.