Today the Israelites journey into the Wilderness of Sin and begin complaining about the lack of food and water. They reminisce about the “good ol’ days” back in Egypt where they sat by pots of meat and ate bread till they were full. Was it really that great for them in Egypt? In the midst of their fleshly cravings, they are romanticizing an Egypt that did not exist for them. The Israelites are neglecting to remember that they were slaves and Pharaoh was killing their baby boys. But once again the Lord provides for His grumbling group by sending them manna and quail. He also gives them specific instructions about gathering food to teach them to trust in His daily provisions; a lesson not easily learned by the Israelites.
When the Israelites camp at Rephidim, they complain again to Moses about the lack of water. The Lord tells Moses “Behold, I will stand before you there on the rock in Horeb; and you shall strike the rock, and water will come out of it, that the people may drink.” This supernatural flowing water from a rock points to the Savior Jesus Christ who is coming to give living water. Later in the story, Paul is going to write about the Israelites wandering in the wilderness, and he will say, “all ate the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ” (1 Corinthians 10:3-4). And when Jesus arrives on the scene, He is going to stand and shout to the crowds “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water” (John 7:37-38). This living water is the Holy Spirit that He will pour upon those who believe in Him.
However, after God supernaturally provides water to the Israelites from a rock, the Amalekites attack Israel. Remember the Amalekites? Descendants of Esau, Jacob’s brother (Genesis 36:12.) This is when we meet Joshua. Moses tells Joshua to take some men and fight back against the Amalekites. “And so it was, when Moses held up his hand, that Israel prevailed; and when he let down his hand, Amalek prevailed. But Moses’ hands became heavy; so they took a stone and put it under him, and he sat on it. And Aaron and Hur supported his hands, one on one side, and the other on the other side; and his hands were steady until the going down of the sun. So Joshua defeated Amalek and his people with the edge of the sword.” Keep your eye on Joshua because the Lord is training him for an important task down the road.
Once the Amalekites are defeated, the Lord tells Moses, “Write this for a memorial in the book and recount it in the hearing of Joshua, that I will utterly blot out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven.” And forty years later, the Lord will remind His people – “Remember what Amalek did to you on the way as you were coming out of Egypt, how he met you on the way and attacked your rear ranks, all the stragglers at your rear, when you were tired and weary; and he did not fear God. Therefore it shall be, when the Lord your God has given you rest from your enemies all around, in the land which the Lord your God is giving you to possess as an inheritance, that you will blot out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven. You shall not forget” (Deuteronomy 25:17-19). The Amalekites will show up again later in the story. Will the Israelites obey the Lord? We will find out as the story continues to unfold.
When Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, comes to visit Moses with Zipporah and their two sons, Jehro gives Moses some wise advice. He advises Moses to appoint men to help him manage the people and carry the burden – “If you do this thing, and God so commands you, then you will be able to endure, and all this people will also go to their place in peace.”
We end the reading today with the Lord at Mount Sinai, where He is going to give Moses commandments and instructions for the people, so keep reading. (Exodus 16:1-19:25)