Hello! Welcome to Episode 4 of the Faith Chase Podcast. I’m Heather Tabata, and this podcast is about making our faith real in everyday life.
Thanks for listening in! It’s been a month where life keeps happening, so I’ve gotten a little behind with the posts, but I’m going to try to catch up and get back to Tuesdays. I hope your month is going well!
Last time we left off with the Israelites leaving Egypt. The night before they left they ate the Passover meal, and God commanded them to observe this every year.
It shall be as a sign to you on your hand and as a memorial between your eyes, that the LORD’s law may be in your mouth; for with a strong hand the LORD has brought you out of Egypt. – Exodus 13:9
God wanted to make sure that they wouldn’t forget what He’d done for them. It would always be in front of them, on their minds, to encourage them to keep the faith.
God led His people on the way with a cloud during the day and a column of fire at night. He was always there with them. God told Moses that Pharaoh wouldn’t just let them go.
“Then I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, so that he will pursue them; and I will gain honor over Pharaoh and over all his army, that the Egyptians may know that I am the LORD.” And they did so. Now it was told the king of Egypt that the people had fled, and the heart of Pharaoh and his servants was turned against the people; and they said, “Why have we done this, that we have let Israel go from serving us?”” – Exodus 14:4-5
Pharaoh had been using the Israelites as slaves, and when they were gone, Pharaoh regretted losing his workforce. So he took 600 chariots and chased them down. The Israelites saw them coming, and they were afraid. They told Moses they would’ve been better off staying in Egypt. They’d just seen the miracles God performed to get them out of slavery, but they were so quick to lose faith that He would take care of them.
And Moses said to the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand still, and see the salvation of the LORD, which He will accomplish for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall see again no more forever.” – Exodus 14:13
The cloud that stayed in front of them moved behind them so it was between them and the Egyptians. It was dark to the Egyptians, but it gave light to the Israelites that night. Moses reached his hand over the sea, and God separated the water that night with a strong wind. He divided it so that there was dry ground, and the Israelites walked between a wall of water on either side.
Now it came to pass, in the morning watch, that the LORD looked down upon the army of the Egyptians through the pillar of fire and cloud, and He troubled the army of the Egyptians. And He took off their chariot wheels, so that they drove them with difficulty; and the Egyptians said, “Let us flee from the face of Israel, for the LORD fights for them against the Egyptians.” Then the LORD said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand over the sea, that the waters may come back upon the Egyptians, on their chariots, and on their horsemen.” – Exodus 14:24-26
It happened just like God said. The Israelites crossed over on dry land, and God brought the sea over the Egyptians. When the Israelites saw what God had done, it strengthened their belief in Him. God doesn’t ask us to accept him based on blind faith; He gave proof to people in the Bible and He gives proof to us today that He is God.
After that Moses sang to praise God. He mentioned how God overcame His enemies in the Red Sea crossing. Then he said something really interesting.
Who is like You, O LORD, among the gods? Who is like You, glorious in holiness, Fearful in praises, doing wonders? – Exodus 15:11
Notice how Moses mentions “the gods?” God doesn’t claim to be the only being with power. He claims to be the only all-powerful, all-knowing, all-present Being with power. There are other false gods, like the ones the Egyptians worshiped and who the magicians got their power from to mimic the plagues God sent, but they’re inferior to the eternal God.
So after the Red Sea crossing, the people walked for three days through the wilderness, and the only water they found was bitter so they couldn’t drink it. They complained to Moses asking what they should drink. Moses went to God.
So he cried out to the LORD, and the LORD showed him a tree. When he cast it into the waters, the waters were made sweet. There He made a statute and an ordinance for them, and there He tested them… – Exodus 15:25
God told them that if they would listen to Him and do what was right, that He would protect them from diseases He brought to the Egyptians. Notice the verse says God tested them.
Remember how testing is different than tempting? God didn’t want them to fail; He wanted to strengthen their faith. Before the Israelites would have a chance to go into the land God promised them, they would go through harder times than this. Maybe this was a way to start getting them ready for it. But their attitude wasn’t good. Instead of remembering that God was powerful enough to split a sea, when they were thirsty the Bible doesn’t say they asked God for water and trusted He could and would give it to them. They complained.
As they kept traveling, the people got hungry. Again, rather than pray to God and ask for His help, they started complaining.
And the children of Israel said to them, “Oh, that we had died by the hand of the LORD in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the pots of meat and when we ate bread to the full! For you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger.” Then the LORD said to Moses, “Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you. And the people shall go out and gather a certain quota every day, that I may test them, whether they will walk in My law or not. And it shall be on the sixth day that they shall prepare what they bring in, and it shall be twice as much as they gather daily.” – Exodus 16:3-5
So God sent them quails in the evening, and in the morning, there was bread on the ground.
And when the layer of dew lifted, there, on the surface of the wilderness, was a small round substance, as fine as frost on the ground. – Exodus 16:14
Notice how God said He was going to test them? God was going to send plenty bread every day, and He told the people to gather enough for one day for everyone in their household. Then for the Sabbath they would gather twice that much so they didn’t work on the seventh day. This would show whether they really trusted God to send the food every day.
Well, the first day God sent it, they measured what they gathered. Whether a person had brought in a lot or a little, it worked out that each person ended up with enough food for one day. Moses told them not to leave any of it until the next morning. It would be natural to want to keep a little extra that first time the bread was sent, wouldn’t it? Especially after they hadn’t had a lot of food while they traveled?
That’s what some of them did. The next day, some people had tried to keep it overnight, and the leftovers had worms and stank. So every morning could only get what they needed for that day, except for the sixth day of the week, which was Friday, they got extra for the Sabbath rest on the seventh day. And on Saturday, the food that they’d prepared from the day before didn’t go bad. For forty years, that’s how the Israelites got bread, until they got to the land God gave them for a home.
As they were traveling, it happened again that there wasn’t anything to drink. What did they do? They argued about it with Moses and complained to him. They didn’t ask God for it.
And the people thirsted there for water, and the people complained against Moses, and said, “Why is it you have brought us up out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and our livestock with thirst?” – Exodus 17:3
Moses asked God what to do, and he said that the people were about ready to kill him by stoning him. They were asking whether God was with them or not. God told Moses to go to a rock in a place called Horeb and hit the rock with his rod, and God would make water come from the rock.
Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, heard about everything God did for the Israelites. He came to visit Moses and brought Moses’ wife and their two sons. Moses told him about how God brought them out of Egypt and what He’d done to Pharaoh.
And Jethro said, “Blessed be the LORD, who has delivered you out of the hand of the Egyptians and out of the hand of Pharaoh, and who has delivered the people from under the hand of the Egyptians. Now I know that the LORD is greater than all the gods; for in the very thing in which they behaved proudly, He was above them.” – Exodus 18: 10-11
God could have brought the Israelites out of Egypt by simply making them appear in the land He would give them, but He didn’t. And one reason was to give evidence to people that He is the one true God. Jethro acknowledged that there were other gods, and a lot of people in that area served them, but this convinced Jethro that God was greater than them.
The next day, Moses went out in the morning to be a judge for the people and settle their disputes. He was gone all day until the evening. Jethro saw how much Moses did and gave him some advice.
Both you and these people who are with you will surely wear yourselves out. For this thing is too much for you; you are not able to perform it by yourself… Moreover you shall select from all the people able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness; and place such over them to be rulers of thousands, rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens. – Exodus 18:18, 21
Moses listened to Jethro and ran things that way. Jethro didn’t tell Moses to let the people fend for themselves or delegate all the work. Moses still was involved with the people, but he couldn’t handle everything all on his own.
It’s a good lesson for us today, too. Whether we’re talking about church, a job, or a family, it’s not healthy for one person to do all the work. For one thing, it’s not good for that one person; they’ll wear themselves out. It’s also not fair for people to just coast along on what other people are doing. I highly recommend all of the chapter, but let’s look at one verse from 1 Corinthians 12 in the New Testament. God gives instructions for how the church is supposed to function.
For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ. – I Corinthians 12:12
The Israelites kept traveling on to the wilderness of Sinai. God gave them a promise:
Now therefore, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be a special treasure to Me above all people; for all the earth is Mine. – Exodus 19:5
Let’s pay attention to this promise. It’s conditional: if the Israelites follow God, then He would keep them as His people. The people told Moses they would obey God, and Moses told God. Then God planned with Moses that He would meet Moses on Mount Sinai.
Now Mount Sinai was completely in smoke, because the LORD descended upon it in fire. Its smoke ascended like the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mountain quaked greatly. – Exodus 19:18
The people were warned not to go up on the mountain. God met Moses there and taught him the Ten Commandments and laws to govern their society. Among these were laws to protect servants and women. Moses came down from the mountain and told the people God’s requirements, and they agreed to them.
Moses went back to the mountain, and he was there for 40 days.
The sight of the glory of the LORD was like a consuming fire on the top of the mountain in the eyes of the children of Israel. – Exodus 24:17
God gave Moses instructions for how to build the ark of the covenant and the instructions for how to keep the tabernacle to worship God. The descriptions were precise and beautiful.
Let’s look at one in particular. Inside the tabernacle, which was a tent for worship, a room was set apart that only the priest could go in, and then only certain times a year. It was where God would stay, and it would be sectioned off by a veil.
And you shall hang the veil from the clasps. Then you shall bring the ark of the Testimony in there, behind the veil. The veil shall be a divider for you between the holy place and the Most Holy. – Exodus 26:33
This veil will be important later on when we get to the New Testament. I’ll give you a hint: it has to do with Jesus’ crucifixion.
Aaron and his sons became the first priests, and the offerings were instituted. The people had to sacrifice animals and food to God regularly plus on special occasions or when they sinned. The sacrifices weren’t for their sins being forgiven though; they were just rolled ahead.
And when He had made an end of speaking with him on Mount Sinai, He gave Moses two tablets of the Testimony, tablets of stone, written with the finger of God. – Exodus 31:18
Before we go on to what happened when Moses came down from the mountain, let’s think about something. We’ve talked about how God gives evidence that He is God. The documentary, Mountain of Fire: The Search for the True Mount Sinai, is interesting. It follows two men looking for Mount Sinai. They find a mountain in Saudi Arabia that has a lot of similarities to the Mount Sinai of the Bible.
One characteristic of this mountain is that the base up to almost the top is the same desert brown as the surrounding mountains. The very top is black, unlike the surrounding mountains. In pictures, there’s a clear divide between the two colors, and the rocks on top look charred. Like the top of the mountain was on fire. We don’t know for certain if it’s the Bible’s Mount Sinai, but it has a lot of uncanny similarities if it isn’t.
While Moses was on the mountain, the people got antsy.
Now when the people saw that Moses delayed coming down from the mountain, the people gathered together to Aaron, and said to him, “Come, make us gods that shall go before us; for as for this Moses, the man who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.” – Exodus 32:1
Again, they placed too much emphasis on Moses and not enough on God. They talked about how Moses brought them from Egypt and they don’t know what had happened to him. After the miracles God had done, why couldn’t they have said that even if something happened to Moses, God could still take care of them? But they looked to false gods that they could make. They brought gold to Aaron, and he made a gold calf that they set up as an idol. They made sacrifices to it.
God told Moses to go down from the mountain because the people had corrupted themselves. God was ready to destroy them for losing faith in Him.
“Now therefore, let Me alone, that My wrath may burn hot against them and I may consume them. And I will make of you a great nation.” – Exodus 32:10
God was ready to make a new nation from Moses’ descendants. If Moses had agreed, he could have been rid of the people who had caused him so many problems and had the honor of being the patriarch of a new nation. But he said:
“Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, Your servants, to whom You swore by Your own self, and said to them, ‘I will multiply your descendants as the stars of heaven; and all this land that I have spoken of I give to your descendants, and they shall inherit it forever.’ ” – Exodus 32:13
Because of that, the Bible says God relented from what He would have done to the Israelites. Moses went down from the mountain with the Ten Commandments God had written on stone tablets. When he saw the calf and the people dancing around it, he was furious, and he threw the tablets and broke them.
He asked Aaron what he had done. Aaron replied that Moses knew the people were set on evil. Aaron said they brought him their gold, he threw it in the fire, and the calf came out. Really?! Can’t you just imagine Moses’ face?
God told Moses that he was going to punish the people who had disobeyed Him, but Moses would lead the people on to the land God had promised them.
That’s it for this time! Next time we’ll finish Exodus and talk more about the laws God gave the people. I hope the podcast is encouraging to you. Head over to the blog site, or Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook, and let me know your thoughts on this week’s readings. What stood out to you? What questions do you have? What would you have done in Moses’ place? Don’t forget to follow the podcast to catch the next episode. On to the next reading!