From Eternity Past


Chapter 26—Israel Meets With Difficulties

This chapter is based on Exodus 15:22-27; 16 to 18.

From the Red Sea the hosts of Israel again set forth on their journey under the guidance of the pillar of cloud. They were full of joy in the consciousness of freedom, and every thought of discontent was hushed. EP 200.1

But for three days, as they journeyed, they could find no water. The supply which they had taken with them was exhausted. There was nothing to quench their burning thirst as they dragged wearily over the sun-burnt plains. Moses, who was familiar with this region, knew what the others did not—at Marah, where springs were found, the water was unfit for use. With a sinking heart he heard the glad shout, “Water! water!” echo along the line. Men, women, and children in joyous haste crowded to the fountain, when, lo, a cry of anguish burst forth—the water was bitter. EP 200.2

In their despair they reproached Moses, not remembering that the divine presence in that mysterious cloud had been leading him as well as themselves. Moses did what they had forgotten to do; he cried earnestly to God for help. “And the Lord showed him a tree, which when he had cast into the waters, the waters were made sweet.” Here the promise was given to Israel: “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.” EP 200.3

From Marah the people journeyed to Elim, where they found “twelve wells of water.” Here they remained several days. EP 200.4

When they had been a month absent from Egypt, their store of provisions had begun to fail. How was food to be supplied for these vast multitudes? Even the rulers and elders of the people joined in complaining against the leaders of God's appointment: “Would to God we had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the fleshpots, 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.” EP 201.1

They had not as yet suffered hunger; but they feared for the future. In imagination they saw their children famishing. The Lord permitted difficulties to surround them and their supply of food to be cut short, that their hearts might turn to Him who had been their Deliverer. If in their want they would call upon Him, He would still grant them tokens of His love and care. It was sinful unbelief on their part to anticipate that they or their children might die of hunger. EP 201.2

It was necessary for them to encounter difficulties and endure privations. God was bringing them from degradation to occupy an honorable place among the nations and to receive sacred trusts. Had they possessed faith in Him, in view of all that He had wrought for them, they would cheerfully have borne inconvenience, privation, and even real suffering. But they forgot the goodness and power of God displayed in their deliverance from bondage. They forgot how their children had been spared when the destroying angel slew all the firstborn of Egypt. They forgot the grand exhibition of divine power at the Red Sea. They forgot that their enemies, attempting to follow them, had been overwhelmed by the waters of the sea. EP 201.3

Instead of saying, “God has done great things for us; whereas we were slaves, He is making of us a great nation,” they talked of the hardness of the way and wondered when their weary pilgrimage would end. EP 201.4

God would have His people in these days review the trials through which ancient Israel passed, that they may be instructed in their preparation for the heavenly Canaan. Many look back to the Israelites and marvel at their unbelief, feeling that they themselves would not have been so ungrateful; but when their faith is tested even by little trials, they manifest no more faith or patience than did ancient Israel. They murmur at the process by which God has chosen to purify them. Though their present needs are supplied, many are in constant anxiety lest poverty come upon them and their children be left to suffer. Obstacles, instead of leading them to seek help from God, separate them from Him because they awaken unrest and repining. EP 202.1

Why should we be ungrateful and distrustful? Jesus is our friend; all heaven is interested in our welfare. Anxiety and fear grieve the Holy Spirit of God. It is not the will of God that His people should be weighed down with care. EP 202.2

Our Lord does not tell us there are no dangers in our path, but He points us to a never-failing refuge. He invites the weary and care-laden, “Come unto Me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Lay off the yoke of anxiety and care that you have placed on your own neck, and “take My yoke upon you, and learn of Me; for I am meek and lowly in heart; and ye shall find rest unto your souls.” Matthew 11:28, 29. Instead of murmuring and complaining, the language of our hearts should be, “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits.” Psalm 103:2. EP 202.3

God was mindful of the wants of Israel. He said to their leader, “I will rain bread from heaven for you.” Directions were given that the people gather a daily supply, with a double amount on the sixth day, that the sacred observance of the Sabbath might be maintained. EP 202.4

Moses assured the congregation that their wants were to be supplied. “The Lord shall give you in the evening flesh to eat, and in the morning bread to the full.” And he added, “What are we? your murmurings are not against us, but against the Lord.” They must be taught that the Most High, not merely Moses, was their leader. EP 202.5

At nightfall the camp was surrounded by vast flocks of quails, enough to supply the entire company. In the morning there lay upon the ground “a small round thing, ... like a coriander seed, white.” The people called it “manna.” Moses said, “This is the bread which the Lord hath given you to eat.” The people found that there was an abundant supply for all. They “ground it in mills, or beat it in a mortar, and baked it in pans, and made cakes of it.” “And the taste of it was like wafers made with honey.” Numbers 11:8; Exodus 16:31. EP 203.1

They were directed to gather daily an omer for every person and not to leave of it until the morning. The provision for the day must be gathered in the morning, for all that remained upon the ground was melted by the sun. “He that gathered much had nothing over, and he that gathered little had no lack.” EP 203.2