Lord I Believe; Help My Unbelief - Part III
“And they said unto Moses, Because there were no graves in Egypt, hast thou taken us away to die in the wilderness? wherefore hast thou dealt thus with us, to carry us forth out of Egypt? Is not this the word that we did tell thee in Egypt, saying, Let us alone, that we may serve the Egyptians?” — Exodus 14:11-12
The Israelites had just been miraculously delivered from slavery in Egypt and given a tremendous victory at the Red Sea over the Egyptian army—the greatest army in the world at that time.
Now, they thought they had it made and could enjoy the rest and peace they deserved. But just as they were led into the desert, three days from the Red Sea, they came to a body of water that looked like it would satisfy the needs of all of them—2 to 3 million people plus all of their livestock. What a disappointment when they found out the water was contaminated and too bitter to drink. They had to have water! What were they going to do? This was not some extravagant desire on their part; it was an absolute necessity that they could not live without. So they complained directly to Moses and indirectly to God, which was actually unbelief. In essence, they were asking if God was really God and able to meet their needs.
The bitterness of the water was similar to the bitterness in the Israelites. They were disappointed because their expectations of what, when, and how they wanted water were not met. Therefore, they became angry, grieving, unthankful, hurt, resentful, bitter, hopeless, unbelieving, and fearful, which they expressed by complaining to Moses and to God.
They were disappointed and angry because their expectations had not been met. They had hoped that all their troubles were over and they would have no more problems. Had not God led them to this place with the cloud in the daytime and with fire in the night? So, surely they should have no problems, and when they saw the oasis with the water, they thought their need was met. What a letdown. What kind of a God would tease them by raising their hopes only to have them dashed by reality? What kind of leader was Moses who would be an accomplice in this betrayal?
They were grieved because they lost their hope—their confident expectation—that things were finally going to be better. They became unthankful because they allowed their immediate, desperate need for water to overshadow all the many miracles that God had performed for them in the past few weeks.
They were hurt and became resentful and bitter toward God and Moses and blamed them for this problem and the reversal in circumstances instead of the real culprit, who was Satan. Instead of continuing to believe God and His promises, they put faith in their circumstances and lack of their abilities to do anything to solve their problems.
When they saw how helpless they were, and that they were at the end of themselves and their resources, instead of turning to God, they turned to hopelessness and unbelief. And rather than fearing, respecting, and honoring God as the only solution to their problem, they were afraid and terrified of their situation.
Thank God Moses cried to the Lord who showed him a tree, which, when he threw it into the water, made the water sweet and drinkable. This is a picture of what faith in Christ—who He is and what He did on the Cross—can do in the lives of believers regarding their problems.
God not only loved them enough to not leave them where they were, but He kept challenging them so they would continue to “grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ” (II Pet. 3:18). That is why “He proved them” (Ex. 15:25). That means He tested, tried, and examined their hearts so they could know what was in them, the sin they needed to repent of, the things that needed to be removed and changed so they could “be conformed to the image of His Son”(Rom. 8:29), and to see the power of God demonstrated in their circumstances.