It Only Takes a Spark

The whole Israelite community set out from Elim and came to the Desert of Sin, which is between Elim and Sinai, on the fifteenth day of the second month after they had come out of Egypt. 2 In the desert the whole community grumbled against Moses and Aaron. 3 The Israelites said to them, “If only we had died by the Lord’s hand in Egypt! There we sat around pots of meat and ate all the food we wanted, but you have brought us out into this desert to starve this entire assembly to death.” Exodus 16:1-3

The Israelites had been on the move for more than 45 days. Even after they experienced multiple miracles, they still grumbled and complained. It would be a trait many people today would associate with these former slaves from Egypt. What’s the cure for their discontentment? There was none. If they couldn’t be satisfied with the wall of water that surrounded them as they passed through the Red Sea on dry land mere days ago, nothing would satisfy. That one miracle alone would last me several years. But they were operating in a mob/crowd mentality. It probably only took a few people who voiced their dissatisfaction before it infected the entire group.

We see today how infections spread. As I write this the coronavirus is spreading. Because it has a 14 day incubation period, thousands or even millions of people could have been infected around the world. You don’t see the symptoms for 14 days and then it’s disastrous. It’s even more problematic because of the international nature of business and the speed at which we can travel from country to country.

Gossip and innuendo are like that. They spread and spread, and before you know it whole untruths have been passed around before someone confronts it head on. Often, it’s too late because the damage has been done.

We used to sing at church camp, “It only takes a spark to get a fire going, and soon all those around can warm up from its glowing,” a song that touched upon evangelism and encouragement.

Unfortunately the opposite can be true too. It only takes a spark to start a forest fire.

That spark could be that unkind or grumbling comment we make about someone.

Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone. Colossians 4:6

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A Daily Tug of War

25 Then Moses cried out to the Lord, and the Lord showed him a piece of wood. He threw it into the water, and the water became fit to drink.

There the Lord issued a ruling and instruction for them and put them to the test. 26 He said, “If you listen carefully to the Lord your God and do what is right in his eyes, if you pay attention to his commands and keep all his decrees, I will not bring on you any of the diseases I brought on the Egyptians, for I am the Lord, who heals you.”

27 Then they came to Elim, where there were twelve springs and seventy palm trees, and they camped there near the water. Exodus 15:25-27

Throughout Moses’ interaction with the Lord, God has been giving him object lessons. With Pharaoh, it was 10 very important object lessons: the plagues.

This time he used a piece of wood that turned the bitter water into potable water. Remember, there were more than a million people that would have to drink from this, so this was no small miracle.

The decree the Lord gave would be repeated many times in the Old Testament. And of course, the Israelites would forget God and go about their own selfish and sinful ways. He had delivered them, provided for them, protected them, and was now guiding them.

What more could they want?

What more could they need?

Well, it turns out a lot. They were part of the human condition that leaned toward sin and rebellion every chance they got.

We’re part of that same condition.

We have everything we need in Christ, and still blow it. The Holy Spirit wants to lead us and empower us, but the spirit of this world constantly pulls us away and pressures us to be dissatisfied and discontented and to compromise.

So we go back to the basics: prayer, Bible reading, and fellowship with Godly individuals.

And we do it all over again tomorrow, and the next day.

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Moses and The Grumbling Hebrews

22 Then Moses led Israel from the Red Sea and they went into the Desert of Shur. For three days they traveled in the desert without finding water. 23 When they came to Marah, they could not drink its water because it was bitter. (That is why the place is called Marah.) 24 So the people grumbled against Moses, saying, “What are we to drink?”

25 Then Moses cried out to the Lord, and the Lord showed him a piece of wood. He threw it into the water, and the water became fit to drink.

There the Lord issued a ruling and instruction for them and put them to the test. 26 He said, “If you listen carefully to the Lord your God and do what is right in his eyes, if you pay attention to his commands and keep all his decrees, I will not bring on you any of the diseases I brought on the Egyptians, for I am the Lord, who heals you.”

27 Then they came to Elim, where there were twelve springs and seventy palm trees, and they camped there near the water. Exodus 15:22-27

The celebration and euphoria of a God who cares for them didn’t last long! They did what they did best: they grumbled. How could they forget so soon? They were desperate for water, and Moses was leading them. Certainly he’d know where the wells and springs were. After all, he was their leader. But he didn’t have a clue either so he did what he did best: cried out to the Lord on their behalf.

Which would you rather be, the grumbling Hebrews or Moses? Both were doing essentially the same thing, but the recipient of their complaints were entirely different, which makes all the difference in the world.

The application is quite easy today. Often we do the first (grumbling to others) and never get around to the second (calling out to God). We have it backwards.

Part of it is we just don’t trust God to move in somebody’s life the way we want Him to. We think we have the solution they need, but aren’t sure God would answer that way.

What we forget is that God’s way of solving problems is other worldly different and infinitely better than our solutions.

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Are You Free?

19 When Pharaoh’s horses, chariots and horsemen went into the sea, the Lord brought the waters of the sea back over them, but the Israelites walked through the sea on dry ground. 20 Then Miriam the prophet, Aaron’s sister, took a timbrel in her hand, and all the women followed her, with timbrels and dancing. 21 Miriam sang to them:

“Sing to the Lord,
for he is highly exalted.
Both horse and driver
he has hurled into the sea.” Exodus 15:19-21

Women played a prominent role in Biblical days, despite what critics of the Bible say.

In this passage, these women were merely continuing the celebration that Moses had started. How long did it last? No one knows, but I suspect it was hours or even days, perhaps even weeks.

Think of it: they were just delivered from the hands of the Egyptians and even Pharaoh himself. Of course it was a cause for big celebration. They were also delivered from slavery and captivity. By crossing through the Red Sea safely, they were officially and finally free.

God wants all of His people to be free. Are you free today? It’s an open-ended question on purpose.

Of course, those who believe in Christ Jesus are free from the penalty and power of sin. As time goes by, though, we become lazy and slothful in our walk with Christ, and we aren’t careful. Sin creeps in: anger, bitterness, addictions, dishonesty, selfishness, greed, and many others.

Again I ask, are you free today? Are you so free that you could dance like Miriam and those who follower her danced?

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He Has Time

Then Moses and the Israelites sang this song to the Lord:

“I will sing to the Lord,
for he is highly exalted.
Both horse and driver
he has hurled into the sea.

2 “The Lord is my strength and my defense;
he has become my salvation.
He is my God, and I will praise him,
my father’s God, and I will exalt him.
3 The Lord is a warrior;
the Lord is his name.
4 Pharaoh’s chariots and his army
he has hurled into the sea.
The best of Pharaoh’s officers
are drowned in the Red Sea.
5 The deep waters have covered them;
they sank to the depths like a stone.
6 Your right hand, Lord,

was majestic in power.
Your right hand, Lord,
shattered the enemy.

7 “In the greatness of your majesty
you threw down those who opposed you.
You unleashed your burning anger;
it consumed them like stubble.
8 By the blast of your nostrils
the waters piled up.
The surging waters stood up like a wall;
the deep waters congealed in the heart of the sea.
9 The enemy boasted,

‘I will pursue, I will overtake them.
I will divide the spoils;
I will gorge myself on them.
I will draw my sword
and my hand will destroy them.’
10 But you blew with your breath,
and the sea covered them.
They sank like lead
in the mighty waters.
11 Who among the gods
is like you, Lord?
Who is like you—
majestic in holiness,

awesome in glory,
working wonders?

12 “You stretch out your right hand,
and the earth swallows your enemies.
13 In your unfailing love you will lead
the people you have redeemed.
In your strength you will guide them
to your holy dwelling.
14 The nations will hear and tremble;
anguish will grip the people of Philistia.
15 The chiefs of Edom will be terrified,
the leaders of Moab will be seized with trembling,
the people of Canaan will melt away;
16 terror and dread will fall on them.

By the power of your arm
they will be as still as a stone—
until your people pass by, Lord,
until the people you bought pass by.
17 You will bring them in and plant them
on the mountain of your inheritance—
the place, Lord, you made for your dwelling,
the sanctuary, Lord, your hands established.

18 “The Lord reigns
for ever and ever.” Exodus 15:1-18

More than a million people watched the demise of the powerful Egyptian army. It was certainly not lost on the Israelites who made it all happen. At the very least, right now the Israelites knew who was in control of their destiny. They would probably forget the next day or the next week (not at all unlike us), but right now, He made it all happen.

It’s interesting that the song mentions their enemies being God’s enemies too.

Jesus drove this point home when He said, “They will hate you because of me.” Mark 13:13

The enemies of God and His people are many. While He doesn’t send them all into the dry bed of a sea, what they’ve done to Christians and ultimately to God is not forgotten by God. He sees it all, and waits. We don’t like the wait because we like to see justice now.

Rest assured, Brothers and Sisters, He will mete out true, perfect justice when the time is right.

No, the person didn’t get away with murder as we like to say.

God sees it all.

All of it.

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