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  The Great Bible Story #32
The people complain

Jacob Ninan
The children of Israel had been staying in Egypt for 430 years, and their knowledge of God was very poor. They were more familiar with the gods of Egypt than with God. This became evident from their responses to God and to their circumstances. Even though they were quite excited after the miraculous deliverance through the Red Sea, when they came to a place where there was no water to drink, they began to complain and think of going back to Egypt. They talked about how they used to have bread and meat to the full in Egypt and asked Moses why he had brought them to the desert. They had not really caught the vision that they were on the way to the Promised Land where everything would be like 'flowing with milk and honey'.

God heard their grumbling and said that He would give them meat in the evenings and bread in the morning. In the evening quails flew down to the camp and fell to the ground where the people could pick them up. In the morning they saw white flakes on the ground which they called manna ("What is it?") and which God called 'bread from heaven'. God said that everyone could gather as much as they could eat for the day and cook it. It tasted like wafers with honey. Some people tried to store extra, but then worms would come out!

One day they began to quarrel with Moses when there was no water to drink. God asked Moses to go to a big rock and to strike it with his rod in front of all the people. When he did that, water started flowing out copiously from the rock and everyone was satisfied. In miraculous ways like this God provided them food and water throughout the time they took to reach the Promised Land of Canaan. He also protected them sicknesses.

In addition to providing food and water for the people of Israel, God was also bringing out a picture of Christ (Messiah, meaning the Anointed One) through His dealings with them. Christ is the One who would deliver people from the slavery of sin and lead them to the promised land of life with God. He would be 'stricken' to death and out of His death would flow out divine life for those who believed. He would feed them with spiritual food and also take care of all their needs.

The people of Israel could not know these things at that time, of course, but God wanted them to learn to trust in Him through the experience of being miraculously provided for. But most of them did not even learn that, and they went on grumbling and complaining all through that time.

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Comfort & Counsel