The path to Sinai
Summer Hill Church
21 July 2019
1. Mountain climbing and walking in the desert
a. as you can tell we have a lot to get through today.
i. the whole passage is about 2200 words, so we can’t even read it all.
(1) but you should read it.
The word of God is there for a reason
(a) and we mustn’t miss reading parts of the Bible because every word is God’s word, and the reason we read the parts we read often is sometimes because of our own sinfulness.
(2) That we don’t like what the Bible says, and so we don’t read it, or even worse, dismiss it as irrelevant
but every word is breathed by the mouth of God, and this long narrative is no exception
(1) so I want to encourage you to read it, all of it, carefully through the week.
because this is the slight depression between two peaks of the story
(1) next to Mt Everest, (Sagamartha) is the mountain Lhotse, not quite as big, but amazing in it’s own right at 8516m -
b. and Israel have just visited their Lhotse, the peak where God has bought Israel out of slavery and devastatingly defeated the Egyptians.
(1) and they are now in the desert, on the South Col, exposed and in danger.
(a) wondering why they left the safety and warmth of the green valleys - that is Egypt
ii. over the next 2 weeks we will come to the peak called Sinai - the place where you can see what God has in store, it’s like the South Summit - a huge moment
but in the end, Israel are going to the summit of Everest,
iv. that is to Canaan.
To the land promised to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, to Jerusalem, to God’s holy temple.
(1) just as Moses sang about last week
(a) In your unfailing love you will lead the people you have redeemed.
In your strength you will guide them to your holy dwelling.
c. and the thing is, that is where we are.
i. we are between our 2 salvations.
(1) we have been rescued, and our sins defeated.
(a) but our final salvation and the final promised land lays ahead of us
(2) and so we now are in the wilderness,
ii. and we are in danger too, because the wilderness is a dangerous place where we can feel the threats
(1) we can feel the pressures to want to return to Egypt, to our old ways
(a) to the ways of the world
d. to help us resolve this, we’ll look at three high-points in the story of the journey to Sinai
2. God’s Provision
a. did you notice how quickly Israel turns again?
i. after we saw the amazing event of 2 weeks ago, with God’s mighty salvation of them and the destruction of Egypt, they immediately start to grumble again.
ii. 2 days on the road, through the desert of Sin and they get thirsty.
They had seen God part the sea,, they had seen God act in all the plagues, and by day they had the pillar of fire and the pillar of cloud.
(1) with all that happening in just the past few days - they complain
When they came to Marah, they could not drink its water because it was bitter.
(That is why the place is called Marah. ) So the people grumbled against Moses, saying, “What are we to drink?” 15:23–24
b. it’s almost like all those things hadn’t happened.
i. and so God provides water to drink - miraculously turning bitter water into drinkable water
c. but a couple of weeks later, the complaining starts again
The whole Israelite community set out from Elim and came to the Desert of Sin, which is between Elim and Sinai, on the fifteenth day of the second month after they had come out of Egypt.
In the desert the whole community grumbled against Moses and Aaron.
ii. and this is the pattern we see happening all the way through this narrative.
(1) Israel complains because something is going wrong, and they want to go back
(a) look at v3
(i) The Israelites said to them, “If only we had died by the LORD’S hand in Egypt!
There we sat around pots of meat and ate all the food we wanted, but you have brought us out into this desert to starve this entire assembly to death.”
(b) and in response to this God did something marvellous, he gave them Manna and Quail
(i) Then the LORD said to Moses, “I will rain down bread from heaven for you.
The people are to go out each day and gather enough for that day.
In this way I will test them and see whether they will follow my instructions.
(c) so the manna was a provision and a test.
(i) would they do what God says and just gather for the day, or would they not trust God’s provision, and try and store it up
(d) and when they did that, the outcome was not so good
(i) However, some of them paid no attention to Moses; they kept part of it until morning, but it was full of maggots and began to smell.
So Moses was angry with them.
(e) God’s astonishing provision was not just a provision.
There was a test of their heart involved - would they trust him for provision every day.
Which he did - every day until they reached the promised land
1) The Israelites ate manna forty years, until they came to a land that was settled; they ate manna until they reached the border of Canaan.
(ii) which is the prayer we so often pray “give us today our daily bread” which is about trusting God that he will continue to give us what we really need, every day.
Do we do that?
1) 1st - do we ask God for our needs every day
2) and 2nd, do we thank God for what he does give us
a) and maybe he will give us manna instead of quail
b) and there’s the test of our heart too
c) will we grumble when we don’t get what we need?
3) or will we turn in thankfulness for all the wonderful and gracious things God does give us
(iii) but aren’t we just like Israel?
As soon as something doesn’t quite work out the way we’d like it to, we wanna go back, we wanna grumble….
(2) in the section Anita read for us
(a) But the people were thirsty for water there, and they grumbled against Moses.
They said, “Why did you bring us up out of Egypt to make us and our children and livestock die of thirst?” 17:3
(3) remember, they were getting meat every night, and manna every morning, bread which was provision in a desert beyond anyone’s wildest dreams
(a) and they grumbled again - now what would you do if you were God?
(i) he’d provided everything for them.
He had saved them, he’d led them, he’d fed them, and he’d provided water for them before.
(ii) they failed his test, their hearts kept turning against God
1) what would you do?
(b) well, whatever you would do, what God did was provide for them yet again.
(i) and in a visual way that reminded them, perhaps might have even made them feel ashamed.
1) The LORD answered Moses, “Go out in front of the people.
Take with you some of the elders of Israel and take in your hand the staff with which you struck the Nile, and go.
I will stand there before you by the rock at Horeb.
Strike the rock, and water will come out of it for the people to drink.”
So Moses did this in the sight of the elders of Israel.
(ii) the same staff which he tamed the greatest river in the known world, he provided water for the people.
1) both provision and rebuke.
(c) and we are supposed to take note of the name of the place this all happened.
(i) And he called the place Massah and Meribah because the Israelites quarreled and because they tested the LORD saying, “Is the LORD among us or not?” 17:7