God's Goodness

The Israelites Enter the Wilderness-Exodus 14-17

Theme: When life changes… God is good. God is faithful. His goodness never changes.

Key Verse: “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good! His faithful love endures forever.” Psalm 106:1.

Introduction:

     I hate change. I like things to be just the way they always were. How about you? Maybe you had a new baby in the house that really changed things. Or maybe you had to move, and you had to say good-bye to all your friends. Or maybe your parents got divorced, and that changed everything.

     Today we’re going to learn that when life changes…God is still good. God is always good.

     Yesterday we left off with Pharaoh telling Moses to take his people and go.  What it would have been like to be part of those Israelites who left Egypt? Today we will experience it through the eyes of a make-believe character named Rachel.

Bible Story:

     It didn’t matter that it was the middle of the night. Rachel was too excited to sleep as she walked beside her mother through the wilderness. As far ahead as she could see, people marched. When she turned around, there was no end, either.

     They were free! It was hard to believe. Pharaoh had finally let them go. No more slavery.

     But it was scary in the wilderness. Where they would get food and water? There was nothing out here.

     Moses assured them that God would take care of them. In fact, God was in the huge pillar of fire billowing in the night sky, showing them where to go and giving them light.

     That night the pillar of fire stopped at Etham so they could sleep. The next morning the pillar was a cloud. When it moved, they moved.

     One night they pitched their tents beside the Red Sea. As Rachel was settling onto her sleeping mat, she heard a scream. Then another and another.

     “Mother, what is it?”

     “I don’t know. Let’s see.”

     Rachel followed her mother from the tent. People pointed toward a hill where hundreds of army chariots looked down on them. The Egyptians had come to take them back.

     She screamed too.

     The people yelled at Moses. “It would have been better for us to be slaves in Egypt than to die out here in the wilderness.”

     Moses raised his hands to quiet them. “Don’t be afraid. The Lord will fight for you.”

     Rachel wondered how.

     The pillar of cloud moved behind them, blocking the Egyptians from view.

     “Pack up your tents,” Moses said. “Prepare to move out.”

     Move out? Where? Rachel wondered. They were trapped. The sea was in front of them and the Egyptians behind them.

     When Moses raised his staff above the water, an east wind whooshed in. Rachel held onto her robe lest it blow right off, so strong was it.

     Before her very eyes, the waters parted, forming a path between towering walls of water. She couldn’t believe it.

     All night that wind blew, drying the muddy pathway.

     Then Moses said, “Follow me!”

     Rachel joined everyone in stepping into the river bed. Amazingly, the mud was bone dry.

     It was scary walking between those walls of water. Rachel walked quickly, hoping to reach land before they crashed down.

     By daybreak, all two million people had safely crossed.

     Then, to her horror, the Egyptians came in hot pursuit, their horses and chariots racing over the hard mud. They weren’t safe after all. Was that Pharaoh out in front? His face looked furious.

     Rachel screamed.

     Suddenly, the chariots swerved. The Egyptians couldn’t control them. Panic covered their faces.

     An Egyptian shouted, “Let’s get out of here! The Lord is fighting against us.”

     Then Moses raised up his arms over the water. Swoosh! The walls of water crashed down onto the army of Egypt, covering the horses, the chariots, and the men. All died.

     What rejoicing there was in the Israelite’s camp. They sang praises to the Lord for His great power against the Egyptians.

     And on they marched.

#

     On the fifteenth day of the second month of their journey, Rachel was miserable.

     The hot desert sun beat down on her as she trudged through the sand, one step, then another. Endless steps.

     “Are we there yet?” she whined.

     “Stop it!” her mother said. “Just keep walking.”

     Rachel had expected to be in the Promised Land by now. The adventure wasn’t so much fun anymore.

     Her mouth was so dry that her tongue stuck to the roof of her mouth. She could hardly swallow.

     “I need a drink,” she said.

     “Help yourself.” Mother waved her hand over the dry, sandy landscape. There was no water anywhere.

     Rachel sighed. In Egypt, they had big pots of meat every night. They were never hungry or thirsty.  Her stomach growled. “I’m hungry.”

     “Hopefully Moses will find us something to eat,” Mother said.

     She wished she could turn around and go back to Egypt.

     “My feet hurt,” Rachel said. “My sunburn is sore.”

     “Stop it!” her mother said. “I can’t stand your complaining.”

     Rachel lifted her chin. What was so wrong with complaining? Everyone else was doing it. Children cried from the heat. Grown-ups grumbled with every step.

     Up ahead, Moses motioned for everyone to stop. They gathered around.

     One man yelled, “Have you brought us out to the desert to starve us all to death?” Everyone shouted in agreement.

     Moses raised his hand. “I know you’re hungry and thirsty, and I’m sorry. The Lord has heard your cries. Food is on the way. Tonight you will know that it is the Lord who brought you out of Egypt. He will give you meat tonight and bread in the morning.”

     A cheer went up.  

     With hope in her heart, it wasn’t nearly so hard to walk the rest of the way.

     That evening thousands of quail flew into the camp, so low that it was easy to catch them. They gathered around their campfires as the smell of roasting meat made their mouths water. Everyone went to bed with a full stomach.

     When Rachel woke in the morning, she looked out the tent and saw the ground covered with thin white flakes like frost. She blinked and looked again. “What is it?” she asked.

     Mother looked too. “I don’t know. I’ve never seen anything like it.”

     They walked outside. Rachel bent down and picked up some. She smelled it. It smelled good. She tasted it. It was sweet, like wafers made with honey. “Ummm!” She gathered more and ate it. It was delicious.

     Other people came out of their tents and asked the same thing, “What is it?”

     Moses explained, “This manna is the bread the Lord has given you. Gather as much as you need for today. Do not gather more than you need, for it will not keep until morning.”

     Rachel collected the manna in a basket. How much would they need for one day? She didn’t know. She filled the basket full.

     She didn’t understand why Moses said to gather only enough for today. What if there wasn’t any manna tomorrow morning? Then they would be hungry. It wouldn’t hurt to save some just in case.

     So she filled another basket and hid it under her pillow.

     That night God sent quail again, and Rachel’s belly was full when she went to bed.

     When she awoke the next morning, she sniffed. Something smelled bad. What was that?

     She looked out the tent. The ground was covered with manna again. She felt pleased with herself that she wouldn’t have to gather it, because she had saved plenty.

     She pulled out the basket from under her pillow and lifted the lid. She gagged. The manna was full of squirming white maggots. That’s what had smelled so bad.

     She didn’t want anyone to know she had disobeyed. She waited until everyone was out of the tent before she snuck out with her putrid basket. She dug a hole in the sand and buried it, basket and all. She used a different basket to gather fresh manna for the day.

     She had learned her lesson—obey God and Moses.

     On the sixth day, Moses told them to gather enough manna for that day and the next. “Tomorrow is the Sabbath, our day of rest,” Moses said. “We don’t work tomorrow.”

     No! Rachel wanted to say. Don’t you know it will spoil?

     But it didn’t. Everyone’s manna was perfectly fine the next day.

#

     Finally the cloud moved again, and it was time to take down their tents and go.

     They walked and walked and walked across the hot desert. Rachel was so thirsty.

     When they camped at a place called Rephidim, there again was no water.

     “I need something to drink or I will die,” she whined to her mother.

     Instead of yelling at her, her mother said, “This is ridiculous. Moses was crazy to bring us out into the wilderness. We’re all going to die of thirst. We should have stayed in Egypt.”

     Around the camp, everyone complained. They went to Moses. “Why did you bring us up out of Egypt to make us and our children and livestock die of thirst?”

     Sometime later, Moses went off with the elders to Mount Horeb where he struck a rock with his staff. Immediately cool, fresh water gushed out.

     Rachel, along with everyone else, filled pitchers with the sweet water. They had plenty to drink that night.

     God loved His people and provided for their needs, even though they were complaining and whiny. God showed His goodness again and again, day after day.

Conclusion:

     We are learning that when life changes, God is good.

     How did life change for Rachel and the Israelites? (Discussion- Before, they were slaves and had plenty to eat. Now they were free, but life was harder because it was hot and they had little food and water.)

     Was God good when they were working so hard as slaves?

     Yes, because God is always good.

     Was God good when they didn’t have enough to eat or drink in the wilderness?

     Yes, because God is always good.

     How can God be good if bad things happen to us sometimes?

     God never changes. He is always good. But sometimes He allows bad things to happen to us? Why?

  • to make us grow in our faith
  • to help us trust Jesus more
  • to make us more like Christ

          One of my favorite verses is Romans 8:28- “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”

          Who does God promise all things will work together for good for?

          Those that love God. That means those who have committed their lives to Christ; those who have asked Jesus to forgive their sins and come into their hearts.

          Have you ever done that?

          God loves you so much. He wants you to be part of His family. But one thing separates us from God. Sin. If you have ever sinned, if you have ever done anything wrong, you cannot go to heaven when you die to live with God because no sin is allowed in heaven. But God loved you so much that He wanted you there with Him, so He made a way for your sin to be forgiven. He sent His only Son, Jesus, to die on the cross and shed His blood to take the punishment for your sin. If you believe Jesus died and rose again, tell Him you’re sorry for your sin, and ask Him to come into your life and save you, He will. He will wash your sin away. Have you ever done that? You can do it today. (Give an invitation.)

          If you have already asked Jesus into your heart, God promises that everything God allows to happen to you will be for your good. We can trust that promise because God is good and faithful all the time. How do we know? Listen to this verse from Psalm 106:1- “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good! His faithful love endures forever.”

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Beth Livingston

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