Good morning boys and girls. Please clear your desks and get ready
to take a pop quiz. (Remember how much you used to like doing math word problems? I know, me too!)
Suzie has three oranges and is traveling westbound on a train at twelve miles per hour. Bob has six apples and is headed eastbound in a car at sixty-five miles per hour.
Ooops, that is for tomorrow’s quiz.
Moses and the Israelites are walking southeast out of the Land of Goshen at three miles per hour. Based on Scripture, some Bible scholars believe it took them sixteen days to travel to the edge of the Red Sea, an approximate distance of seventy-five miles, where they camped for eight days before crossing.
How long would it take the Egyptians, who are traveling on horseback and in chariots at twenty-five miles per hour to catch up to them?
Now before you actually begin doing the math, the correct answer is: it doesn’t matter! God had their backs!
Here is where you can open your book, the Good Book that is, and find the full answer in Exodus 14.
I looked up “having your back” online and found the following explanations.
When someone has your back, they are there to support you unconditionally. When life seems to blindside you with undesirable events, they’re there for you without complaint, supporting you in your moment of need, not for their own selfish, self gratifying reasons, but because your well being to them is foremost in their mind and heart. Someone that has your back recognize the goodness, even the greatness in you, especially during the moments you’re not able to see it. Simply stated, when someone has your back, your life is greatly enhanced.
Sounds exactly like God, right?
“During the forty years that I led you through the desert, your clothes did not wear out, nor did the sandals on your feet” (Deut. 29:5 [NIV]).
This amazing passage leads me to four very important points.
- Clearly, there were no fashion police around in 1450 B.C. Can you imagine it? “Seriously? You are going to walk out of the tent wearing the same robe and sandals, again?”
- Think of the time you’d save first thing in the morning. You would not have to spend countless hours looking in the closet, mixing and matching outfits to find something to wear.
- Consider the marital bliss that occurred. Husbands would not be put on the spot when asked the age-old question, “Does this robe make my butt look fat?”
- The Israelites were traveling for forty years, with only a single outfit, that would fit easily into your carry-on bag and would make it easier to move from one place to the next.
But wait, there’s more!
“Yet He gave a command to the skies above camp and opened the doors of the heavens. He rained down manna for the people to eat; he gave them the grain of heaven. Men ate the bread of the angels. He sent them all the food they could eat” (Ps. 78:23-24 [NIV]). And I’ll just bet that the grain from heaven and the bread of the angels was gluten free!
“They ate till they had more than enough. He had given them what they craved” (Ps. 78:29 [NIV]).
So now we are going to do some math! (No groaning, please! This is going to be fun! You’ll see!) The people of Israel were wandering in the desert for a long time. For the sake of this discussion, let’s say it was exactly forty years. Each year has 365 days times 40 years = 14,600 days, times 3 meals a day = 43,800 meals a day. The exact same food every day. We, who live in the United States and have access to well-stocked supermarkets, might have a hard time considering this. But, thank God, it was the grain from heaven and the bread of the angels, so it must have been amazing!
According to Exodus 38:26, the number of men over twenty years old totaled 603,550. That’s just the men. Let’s be conservative and say every man was married with one child; that’s 1,810,650 folks to feed times 43,800 meals a day = 79,306,470,000 (that’s billion) meals in 40 years. Can I hear another Amen?! God is powerful and provided for their needs and still does so for us today! Wait for it…(Insert sounds of awe here!)
So why did they wander for forty years? I’m glad you asked, because that leads me to my final point. Don’t be a whiner! The Israelites saw the mighty power of God take them out of Egypt, part the Red Sea, etc. At each turn when things looked bleak they turned against Moses and Aaron, whined, complained, demanded, spoke bitterly, moaned, growled, weeping, wailed, and then had no confidence in God and asked Aaron to make them a god to lead them. (See Exodus and Numbers for all the wonderful whining examples.)
According to Numbers 14:1-4, “Then all the people began weeping aloud, and they carried on all night. Their voices rose in a great chorus of complaint against Moses and Aaron. They decided to return to Egypt.” Remember our math from our previous example, that was 1,810,650 people carrying on all night long! That’s like a city the size of Philadelphia, Houston or Phoenix, getting together and complaining all night long, at once! No calling the police for a noise disturbance on this one.
God showed them time and again that He could make something out of nothing and save them with miracles, and it was not good enough. My thought is that if God puts something in the Bible once, it is worth paying attention. Well in this case, it is pointed out over and over again how they complained and would not trust in Him.
That tells me I’d better darn well not whine and complain because I don’t want to be stuck in a desert place for the next forty years!
(This post contains excerpts from my new book Eat the Word: God’s Diet Plan for Your Soul I am in the final edit process so hope to have it completed soon!)
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