The Story of Redemption


Chapter 17—Israel's Journeyings

This chapter is based on Exodus 15:23-18:27.

The children of Israel traveled in the wilderness and for three days could find no good water to drink. They were suffering with thirst, “and the people murmured against Moses, saying, What shall we drink? And he cried unto the Lord; and the Lord shewed him a tree, which when he had cast into the waters, the waters were made sweet: there He made for them a statute and an ordinance, and there He proved them, and said, If thou wilt diligently hearken to the voice of the Lord thy God, and wilt do that which is right in His sight, and wilt give ear to His commandments, and keep all His statutes, I will put none of these diseases upon thee, which I have brought upon the Egyptians; for I am the Lord that healeth thee.” SR 126.1

The children of Israel seemed to possess an evil heart of unbelief. They were unwilling to endure hardships in the wilderness. When they met with difficulties in the way, they would regard them as impossibilities. Their confidence in God would fail, and they could see nothing before them but death. “And the whole congregation of the children of Israel murmured against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness: and the children of Israel said unto them, Would to God we had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the flesh pots, and when we did eat bread to the full, for ye have brought us forth into this wilderness, to kill this whole assembly with hunger.” SR 126.2

They had not really suffered the pangs of hunger. They had food for the present, but they feared for the future. They could not see how the host of Israel was to subsist, in their long travels through the wilderness, upon the simple food they then had, and in their unbelief they saw their children famishing. The Lord was willing that they should be brought short in their food, and that they should meet with difficulties, that their hearts should turn to Him who had hitherto helped them, that they might believe in Him. He was ready to be to them a present help. If, in their want, they would call upon Him, He would manifest to them tokens of His love and continual care. SR 127.1

But they seemed to be unwilling to trust the Lord any further than they could witness before their eyes the continual evidences of His power. If they had possessed true faith and a firm confidence in God, inconveniences and obstacles, or even real suffering, would have been cheerfully borne, after the Lord had wrought in such a wonderful manner for their deliverance from servitude. Moreover, the Lord promised them if they would obey His commandments, no disease should rest upon them, for He said, “I am the Lord that healeth thee.” SR 127.2

After this sure promise from God it was criminal unbelief in them to anticipate that they and their children might die with hunger. They had suffered greatly in Egypt by being overtaxed in labor. Their children had been put to death, and in answer to their prayers of anguish, God had mercifully delivered them. He promised to be their God, to take them to Himself as a people and to lead them to a large and good land. SR 127.3

But they were ready to faint at any suffering they should have to endure in the way to that land. They had endured much in the service of the Egyptians, but now could not endure suffering in the service of God. They were ready to give up to gloomy doubts and sink in discouragement when they were tried. They murmured against God's devoted servant Moses and charged him with all their trials, and expressed a wicked wish that they had remained in Egypt, where they could sit by the flesh pots and eat bread to the full. SR 128.1