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Moses 15 – From Mara To Elim


Exodus 16:1 And they took their journey from Elim, and all the congregation of the children of Israel came to the wilderness of Sin, which is between Elim and Sinai, on the fifteenth day of the second month after their departing out of the land of Egypt.

Here they remained several days before entering the wilderness of Sin. In God’s gracious kindness He led His dear children here to recuperate from their bitter water experience. Sometimes we need to reflect for a short time on our weaknesses and a long time on God’s forgiveness.


We have a more detailed account of their wanderings in the desert in the book of Numbers”

Numbers 33:9 And they removed from Marah, and came to Elim: and in Elim were twelve fountains of water, and three score and ten palm trees; and they pitched there.

What a blessing! An oasis in the desert. Think back. How many times did you experience an oasis in your desert experiences? We serve a kind and considerate God. And now for a short description of their desert wanderings:

Numbers 33:10 And they removed from Elim, and encamped by the Red sea.

I was pleasantly surprised when I read this. I once had the privilege to sleep on the shores of the Red Sea. An outing like this draws millions of visitors each year to enjoy this experience.

Instead of moving directly into the desert of Sin, the pillar of cloud and fire took them on an outing to the Red Sea. This seems to have been in the wide plain el–Markha, which borders on the Red Sea and lies on the regular route to the Egyptian copper mines at Wadi Magâra.

Of what did the waters of the Red Sea remind them? It is spiritually extremely uplifting to meditate upon God’s goodness and His leading in our past history.

I think Moses said to them: “Let’s sing our victory song again.” And I think Miriam said to the ladies: “Let’s do the chorus my sisters.”

As the children of Israel, journeying through the wilderness, cheered their way by the music of sacred song, so God bids His children today gladden their pilgrim life.

There are few means more effective for fixing His words in the memory than repeating them in song. And such song has wonderful power. It has power to subdue rude and uncultivated natures; power to quicken thought and . . . to promote harmony of action. . . .

It is one of the most effective means of impressing the heart with spiritual truth. How often to the soul hard-pressed and ready to despair, memory recalls some word of God’s–the long-forgotten burden of a childhood song–and temptations lose their power. . . .

Let there be singing in the home, of songs that are sweet and pure, and there will be fewer words of censure, and more of cheerfulness and hope and joy. {FLB 273.2}

Numbers 33:11-13 And they removed from the Red sea, and encamped in the wilderness of Sin. And they took their journey out of the wilderness of Sin, and encamped in Dophkah. And they departed from Dophkah, and encamped in Alush.


Let’s continue our interesting journey on our way to Canaan.

Maybe they sang the song: Trust and obey for there is no other way to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.

They had many evidences so far that God is leading them. And should there be unpleasant experiences, they just have to make His heart happy and trust Him in the way He leads them.

What happened after they left Alush?

Numbers 33:14 And they removed from Alush, and encamped at Rephidim, where was no water for the people to drink.

Never mind bitter water, there was NO water! So what did they do? They praised God in the way He led them thus far, and remembering how He led in the past.

And instead of murmuring about the water situation, and burning tyres, they called out a day of fasting and prayer. They decided not to look at the problem, but to the mighty column that led them thus far.

I wish this could have happened. And I wish this could happen when we encounter our next crisis on our way to our heavenly promised land. Just think how God would appreciate this kind of trusting behaviour!

Exodus 16:1 And they took their journey from Elim, and all the congregation of the children of Israel came to the wilderness of Sin, which is between Elim and Sinai, on the fifteenth day of the second month after their departing out of the land of Egypt.

Let’s find out more about the wilderness of sin.

The wilderness of Sin.

Various opinions exist in regard to the location of the Sin desert. Some commentators have suggested that the name was given to this region because of multitudes of thorny bushes, whose name in Heb., seneh, is similar.

Others think that this name, as well as that of Sinai itself, was derived from the name of the moon-god, Sin, who was worshiped on the Sinai Peninsula.

The desert of Sin has been variously identified with (1) the dry, barren coastal plain of el–Qâa, north of the present port city of Tôr, (2) the copper mine valley Wadi Magâra.

Israel had been on their way exactly one month (see ch. 12:2, 6, 11, 12; Num. 33:3). Since only seven camping places (Num. 33:5–11) and one journey of three days through a wilderness (Ex. 15:22) are mentioned, it is evident that there must have been prolonged stays at various places, or many campsites that are not mentioned, or both.

Have you ever been away from home for one month, living out of a suitcase? It could be fun in the beginning, but then your longing for the comforts of home. This is now happening to children of Israel.
Exodus 16:3 And the children of Israel said to them, Would to God we had died by the hand of the LORD in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the flesh pots, and when we did eat bread to the full; for you have brought us forth into this wilderness, to kill this whole assembly with hunger.

Flesh pots.

Accustomed in Egypt to a diet of meat, bread, fish, and vegetables (Num. 11:5), which had come to them even as slaves, they now rose up against Moses and Aaron

When I am away from home, I really miss my wife’s food. And this is what is happening to our redeemed slave friends.

Their store of provisions had now begun to fail. There was scanty herbage in the wilderness, and their flocks were diminishing.

How was food to be supplied for these vast multitudes? Doubts filled their hearts, and again they murmured. Even the rulers and elders of the people joined in complaining against the leaders of God’s appointment.

Are you worried about the future of your children? What’s going to happen to them after you have passed away? Are you worried about your finances, about your health, your marriage. Are a champion in the field of worrying?

Was God looking after His people in Egypt? Did any of them starve of hunger. Malnutrition? Diseases? God wants us to live only for one day at a time. They had not as yet suffered from hunger; their present wants were supplied, but they feared for the future.

They could not understand how these vast multitudes were to subsist in their travels through the wilderness, and in imagination they saw their children famishing.

If you were as poor as I am and as many others are, your arguments would be the same. Or spiritually. How would we ever get to heaven? The problems are increasing by the day! Temptations become more subtle and sophisticated!

You are faltering and falling more than ever before. Please. Where are we looking? At the Christ our Champion or at us the loosers? The Lord permitted difficulties to surround them, and their supply of food to be cut short, that their hearts might turn to Him who had hitherto been their Deliverer.

If in their want they would call upon Him, He would still grant them manifest tokens of His love and care. He had promised that if they would obey His commandments, no disease should come upon them, and it was sinful unbelief on their part to anticipate that they or their children might die for hunger.

God had promised to be their God, to take them to Himself as a people, and to lead them to a large and good land; but they were ready to faint at every obstacle encountered in the way to that land.

In a marvellous manner He had brought them out from their bondage in Egypt, that He might elevate and ennoble them and make them a praise in the earth. But it was necessary for them to encounter difficulties and to endure privations.

God was bringing them from a state of degradation and fitting them to occupy an honourable place among the nations and to receive important and sacred trusts. Had they possessed faith in Him, in view of all that He had wrought for them, they would cheerfully have borne inconvenience, privation, and even
cheerfully have borne inconvenience, privation, and even real suffering; but they were unwilling to trust the Lord any further than they could witness the continual evidences of His power. They forgot their bitter service in Egypt.

They forgot the goodness and power of God displayed in their behalf in their deliverance from bondage. They forgot how their children had been spared when the destroying angel slew all the first-born of Egypt. They forgot the grand exhibition of divine power at the Red Sea.

They forgot that while they had crossed safely in the path that had been opened for them, the armies of their enemies, attempting to follow them, had been overwhelmed by the waters of the sea. They saw and felt only their present inconveniences and trials; and instead of saying, “God has done great things for us; whereas we were slaves, He is making of us a great nation,” they talked of the hardness of the way, and wondered when their weary pilgrimage would end.

The history of the wilderness life of Israel was chronicled for the benefit of the Israel of God to the close of time. The record of God’s dealings with the wanderers of the desert in all their marching’s to and fro, in their exposure to hunger, thirst, and weariness, and in the striking manifestations of His power for their relief, is fraught with warning and instruction for His people in all ages.

The varied experience of the Hebrews was a school of preparation for their promised home in Canaan. God would have His people in these days review with a humble heart and teachable spirit the trials through which ancient Israel passed, that they may be instructed in their preparation for the heavenly Canaan.

Many look back to the Israelites, and marvel at their unbelief and murmuring, feeling that they themselves would not have been so ungrateful; but when their faith is tested, even by little trials, they manifest no more faith or patience than did ancient Israel.

When brought into strait places, they murmur at the process by which God has chosen to purify them. Though their present needs are supplied, many are unwilling to trust God for the future, and they are in constant anxiety lest poverty shall come upon them, and their children shall be left to suffer.

Some are always anticipating evil or magnifying the difficulties that really exist, so that their eyes are blinded to the many blessings which demand their gratitude.

The obstacles they encounter, instead of leading them to seek
help from God, the only Source of strength, separate them from Him, because they awaken unrest and repining. Why should we be ungrateful and distrustful?

Jesus is our friend; all heaven is interested in our welfare; and our anxiety and fear grieve the Holy Spirit of God. We should not indulge in solicitude that only frets and wears us, but does not help us to bear trials.

No place should be given to that distrust of God which leads us to make a preparation against future want the chief pursuit of life, as though our happiness consisted in these earthly things. It is not the will of God that His people should be weighed down with care.

But our Lord does not tell us that there are no dangers in our path. He does not propose to take His people out of the world of sin and evil, but He points us to a never-failing refuge. He invites the weary and care-laden, “Come unto Me, all ye that labour and are heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.”

Lay off the yoke of anxiety and worldly care that you have placed on your own neck, and “take My yoke upon you, and learn of Me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.” Matthew 11:28, 29. We may find rest and peace in God, casting all our care upon Him; for He careth for us. See 1 Peter 5:7.

Says the apostle Paul, “Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God.” Hebrews 3:12. In view of all that God has wrought for us, our faith should be strong, active, and enduring.

Instead of murmuring and complaining, the language of our hearts should be, “Bless the Lord, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless His holy name. Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits.” Psalm 103:1, 2. PP 294

Exodus 16:3 And the children of Israel said to them, Would to God we had died by the hand of the LORD in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the flesh pots, and when we did eat bread to the full; for you have brought us forth into this wilderness, to kill this whole assembly with hunger.

How did God and Moses respond to this unfair, uncalled for criticism? How do we respond to unthankful people who pay us evil for the good we have done to them?

Exodus 16:4 Then said the LORD to Moses, Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you; and the people shall go out and gather a certain rate every day, that I may prove them, whether they will walk in my law, or no.

I will rain bread

Isn’t this a mistake. Was it really bread instead of a consuming fire?

The patience and kindness of God toward His chosen people in these instances of murmuring is remarkable. Recognizing that their minds were still as servile and their faith as undeveloped as when they were in Egypt, God did not show Himself offended at their murmuring but sent help each time they were in trouble.

In so doing it was His purpose to train them to trust their divinely appointed leaders and to have faith in Him.

The phenomenon described here and elsewhere in the Bible (Deut. 8:3; Neh. 9:15; Ps. 78:23–25; 105:40; John 6:31) can be satisfactorily accounted for only as a miracle.

My dear friend we serve a God of miracles. He can even forgive our lack of faith and our multiple sins. He can even give us victory over sins of unbelief and selfishness. Please allow Him to do for you that which you cannot do for self. After the break we will continue to study the character of our marvelous, loving, sustaining heavenly Father.

Updated on 21st Mar 2022

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