Notes on Exodus 14-17


Pharaoh has finally let the people go and they are headed to the Promised Land armed for battle. However, armed for battle does not mean ready for battle, as we shall read. God is leading the way and Pharaoh has changed his mind. He wants the people back. God knows the people are not ready to face Pharaoh. God knows the people do not trust Him fully so it is time for a little exercise known in the Bible as a trial.

 This trial has several goals. It will bring the people to the place where their heart and true beliefs are revealed. This is rarely pleasant but absolutely necessary if they are to grow stronger in the Lord by faith.  Trials also demonstrate God’s power over the enemy and the old way of life, thus developing trust in God. Finally, through the trial, God will be glorified.

 God is leading the people with a pillar of fire by night and a cloud by day. As night falls on the people they come to the sea and realize that Pharaoh and his army are in hot pursuit.  The trial has come upon the people and they respond in fear. Unexpected is what God does next. He switches the cloud and the pillar of fire. The pillar of fire is now in front of the people and the cloud behind. The light is leading the way for Israel through the sea which God parted, while Pharaoh is in the dark following behind. 1 John 1:7, “but if  we walk in the light as He Himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.” NASB

 Israel following the pillar of fire through the parted sea crosses on dry land arriving safely on the other side. Pharaoh, following in the dark, finally comes to his destruction.

 God is praised in Chapter 15 but before the chapter is over the people are having water problems. The first water crisis they faced, water was blocking the way; in the second crisis they could not find water until they came to Marah. There they found the water bitter and the bitter water brought out the bitterness in them. Trials reveal what is in the heart. Trials are also God’s way of training us. God gives them a conditional promise in 15:26.

 In Chapter 16 the people grumble again. This time the problem is food. God provides bread from heaven along with quail.  He also gives specific instruction regarding the collecting of the manna. This will be a test to see if they follow the instruction in 15:26.

 Again in Chapter 17 there is no water but there is plenty of grumbling. There is also a new threat.  Amalek attacks Israel. We are introduced to Joshua who leads the Israelites into battle. He is victorious with a little help from Moses, Aaron, and Hur. God tells Moses to be sure and write down the details of the victory making sure Joshua gets a copy.  He is going to need it; God has big plans for him in the future.

 We all go through trials just as the people of Israel did.  It is important for us to look, and observe, and learn. Hopefully, we won’t make the same mistakes. Remember that though God may seem distant in the trial He is as close as a prayer.  He will never leave you or forsake you.

 I like to keep a journal of blessings. Whenever there is a blessing or a victory in a trial I am going through I write it in my journal.  When people grumble against God they cannot see God but they see God’s people. God’s people, like Moses, become the target of the grumbling. When this happens I like to get out my journal and remind myself of the victories.  I think that was the reason God had the victory against the Amalekites recorded and given to Joshua. There will always be trials.  I have found that my book of blessings helps the grumbling roll off rather than sticking.

 Expect trials. Glorify God. Be blessed.

Pastor Dave