Israel had witnessed God’s amazing deliverance. Held in bondage in Egypt as slaves to build the edifices of Egypt, the children of Israel cried out and God sent them a deliverer, Moses. Through 10 mighty plagues God powerfully defeated Pharaoh and the gods of Egypt and set His people free by the blood of the lamb. The death angel “passed over” (Passover) the houses marked with the blood of the lamb.
Freed by the blood, Israel took the spoils of victory from Egypt and marched triumphantly into the wilderness. When Pharaoh and his army tried to capture them at the Red Sea, God delivered His people by parting the sea and drowning their attackers. Instead of gratitude, the children of Israel immediately began to grumble at Moses because they lacked water (Exodus 15:22-27). Next they grumbled at him for lack of food. In fact, they told Moses they wished they were back in Egypt where they ate from “pots of meat” and “bread until we were full” (Exodus 16:1-3). Despite this slap in the face, God graciously provides meat in the form of quail and bread in the form of manna (lit. “what is it?”).
Are there lessons to be learned from Israel’s obstinate, ungrateful behavior? Yes, in fact 1 Corinthians 10:6 tells us that Israel’s unbelief should serve as an example to us. Have we learned from their example? Let me ask this question, have you ever been tempted to go back to the old sinful life, back to the old sinful addiction? When the devil tempted Israel in times of hardship, they refused to trust God and believe Him. Instead they longed to return to Egypt where everything was “hunky dorey.” Ha! They conveniently forgot that they were slaves in Egypt and cruelly mistreated!!
So often when the devil tempts us in our times of vulnerability we default back to the old sinful habits, the old sinful life. We think we can medicate our pain or disappointment or loneliness or anger by going back to the old ways forgetting that the old life was a cruel life of slavery and bondage. Don’t go back! Reject that thought! Resist the devil! Fix your eyes on Jesus! The Apostle Paul writes these pertinent words to the Galatians who were considering returning to the slavery of the law, “It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and don’t be subject again to a yoke of slavery” (Galatians 5:1).
Refusing to become a slave again,