Unit 5, Session 1

A Test In The Wilderness

SESSION IN A SENTENCE: God is gracious to provide for His people, even when we fail to obey Him.

MAIN PASSAGES: Exodus 16:2-4, 13-20, 17:3-6; 1 Corinthians 10:1-4

The exodus story thus far:

          * God showed His power in miracle after miracle in the plagues and deliverd His people out of Egypt.

          * God delivered His people through the Red Sea and caused Pharaoh's army to be swallowed up by the same sea.

          * Safe and secure in the presence of the Lord on the other side of the sea, the Israelites expressed their worship through singing.

          * The Israelites followed God's leadership through Moses for three days in the wilderness and could not find water, and they began grumbling. When their throats became dry, their memories became short.

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When have you forgotten, or almost forgotten, God's goodness because of a difficult situation in your life? _________________________________________________________________________________

Point 1: God provides for His people in their time of need (Exodus 16:2-4)

2 And the whole congregation of the people of Israel grumbled against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness, 3 and the people of Israel said to them, “Would that we had died by the hand of the LORD in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the meat pots and ate bread to the full, for you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger.” 4 Then the LORD said to Moses, “Behold, I am about to rain bread from heaven for you, and the people shall go out and gather a day’s portion every day, that I may test them, whether they will walk in my law or not.

What is your first reaction to the grumbling of the Israelites?

After God had proven Himself many times over, even providing water for them in the wilderness (Ex. 15:22-27), the Israelites again grumbled in fear instead of resting in faith. Their fear caused them to complain and to distrust God. They started believing it would have been better to die in Egypt as slaves than to follow God in the wilderness.

Yet once more we see God's faithfulness, love, and grace on display for His fearful and distrusting people. God's faithfulness, love, and grace on display for His fearful and distrusting people. God's patience truly runs deep. God responded to their grumbling not in wrath but in love, raining down bread from heaven to feed them. While the refrain of the Israelites was to doubt God, question Him, and walk in disobedience, God's refrain is to extend His grace, mercy, and forgiveness again and again and again.

God Is Gracious: God's ________________is to delight in giving unmerited favor to those who are _______________. His grace toward sinners is found most clearly in the salvation He has provided through _______________.

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What are some ways we can remind ourselves of God's love for us in Christ when it feels as if God's love has waned or ceased? _________________________________________________________________________________

Point 2: God provides for His people despite their disobedience (Exodus 16:13-20).

13 In the evening quail came up and covered the camp, and in the morning dew lay around the camp. 14 And when the dew had gone up, there was on the face of the wilderness a fine, flake-like thing, fine as frost on the ground. 15 When the people of Israel saw it, they said to one another, “What is it?” For they did not know what it was. And Moses said to them, “It is the bread that the LORD has given you to eat. 16 This is what the LORD has commanded: ‘Gather of it, each one of you, as much as he can eat. You shall each take an omer, according to the number of the persons that each of you has in his tent.’” 17 And the people of Israel did so. They gathered, some more, some less. 18 But when they measured it with an omer, whoever gathered much had nothing left over, and whoever gathered little had no lack. Each of them gathered as much as he could eat. 19 And Moses said to them, “Let no one leave any of it over till the morning.” 20 But they did not listen to Moses. Some left part of it till the morning, and it bred worms and stank. And Moses was angry with them.

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In what ways has the Lord provided for you, even in difficult times?
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The bread God provided, called "manna," was not just satisfying but also sanctifying. It not only fed their appetites, it also fed their faith. God had told Moses as much: His provision of quail and manna would cause the Israelites to know He is the Lord (Ex. 16:12). Later, when Moses reflected on this time in the wilderness, he described it this way: "And he humbled you and let you hunger and fed you with manna, which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that he might make you know that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord" (Deut. 8:3)

Point 3: God provides for His people in unexpected ways (Exodus 17:3-6; 1 Corinthians 10:1-4).

3 But the people thirsted there for water, and the people grumbled against Moses and said, “Why did you bring us up out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and our livestock with thirst?” 4 So Moses cried to the LORD, “What shall I do with this people? They are almost ready to stone me.” 5 And the LORD said to Moses, “Pass on before the people, taking with you some of the elders of Israel, and take in your hand the staff with which you struck the Nile, and go. 6 Behold, I will stand before you there on the rock at Horeb, and you shall strike the rock, and water shall come out of it, and the people will drink.” And Moses did so, in the sight of the elders of Israel.

God once again provided for His people in spite of their faithlessness, but He did so in an unusual way to reveal both His power and His presence with certainty (Ex. 17:7). And once again we see that God was providing more than just water to satisfy His people's thirst. This miracle pointed to the greater provision of salvation in Jesus. God chose to strike the rock and not His children, foreshadowing the day when He would send the Son to be struck once and for all for our salvation.

1 For I do not want you to be unaware, brothers, that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea, 2 and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, 3 and all ate the same spiritual food, 4 and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank from the spiritual Rock that followed them, and the Rock was Christ.

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Why is it significant that God provided for the people of Israel in unexpected ways? _________________________________________________________________________________

Because of our sin, we faced an impossible, hopeless situation, much more dire than that of the hungry and thirsty Israelites. But God provided the answer no one could expect: Through Jesus Christ's life of perfect obedience and laying down His life on our behalf, we are able to have life in Him. Like the Israelites, we did nothing--we could do nothing--to earn or deserve Christ. All we have been called to do is surrender our control and trust in Him, our spiritual Rock struck for our salvation.

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Why do we find surrender to God in Christ so difficult?
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My Mission

Because we have experenced God's grace through the striking of His Son, we receive God's faithful provision for our daily needs with gratitude as we testify of His kindness to others so that they too may come to trust in Him.

          *In what areas of your life will you trust God for His provision instead of trusting in your own effort?

          * What are some ways your group can help meet the needs of others in your community as a way to point them to the greater provision of Christ?

          * How will you demonstrate God's kindness this week so that others might come to trust in Jesus or be strengthened in their faith?