We should often be reminded of the source of our blessings. James wrote, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning” (James 1:17). That means that all of our blessings, whatever they may be, are given by God!
Imagine that you were an Israelite of long ago. In particular, think about what it must have been like to come out of Egyptian bondage. For hundreds of years, you and your ancestors worked as slaves. You had never experienced how freedom felt. Then one day, after great demonstrations of power, you are delivered out of your subjugation. How wonderful it must have felt to be free! Who do you thank for such a blessing? Moses? It is true that Moses played a part in the process, but ultimately the blessing of freedom came from God. The nation of Israel was not supposed to forget that. As a matter of fact, Israel was to sanctify every first male that came from a womb, as a reminder of what God had done for them. Moses wrote, “And it shall be when thy son asketh thee in time to come, saying, What is this? that thou shalt say unto him, By strength of hand the LORD brought us out from Egypt, from the house of bondage: And it came to pass, when Pharaoh would hardly let us go, that the LORD slew all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both the firstborn of man, and the firstborn of beast: therefore I sacrifice to the LORD all that openeth the matrix, being males; but all the firstborn of my children I redeem. And it shall be for a token upon thine hand, and for frontlets between thine eyes: for by strength of hand the LORD brought us forth out of Egypt” (Exo. 13:14-16). Israel was never to forget Who blessed them!
At first, Israel seemed extremely grateful! So much so, that Exodus chapter fifteen contains what has become known as the Song of Moses. The reason that Israel sang was because God had blessed them. “Then sang Moses and the children of Israel this song unto the LORD, and spake, saying, I will sing unto the LORD, for he hath triumphed gloriously: the horse and his rider hath he thrown into the sea. The LORD is my strength and song, and he is become my salvation: he is my God, and I will prepare him an habitation; my father’s God, and I will exalt him” (Exo. 15:1-2).
One would think that Israel would continue to praise God for the blessings that they would receive. Unfortunately, that was not so. In the same chapter, Israel began their murmurings (Exo. 15:24). They were already forgetting that God was willing to bless them tremendously. They were instructed, “If thou wilt diligently hearken to the voice of the LORD thy God, and wilt do that which is right in his sight, and wilt give ear to his commandments, and keep all his statutes, I will put none of these diseases upon thee, which I have brought upon the Egyptians: for I am the LORD that healeth thee” (Exo. 15:26).
Just one chapter later, we learn more about how finicky and fickle Israel quickly became. “And they took their journey from Elim, and all the congregation of the children of Israel came unto 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. And the whole congregation of the children of Israel murmured against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness: And the children of Israel said unto 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 ye have brought us forth into this wilderness, to kill this whole assembly with hunger” (Exo. 16:1-3). Are you kidding me? After all that had already been done for them, why would Israel even begin to think that they were more blessed in Egyptian bondage than they were with God? Sadly, this was just the beginnings of how the people of God would forget how blessed they really were.
Later, “…the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, Speak unto Aaron and unto his sons, saying, On this wise ye shall bless the children of Israel, saying unto them, The LORD bless thee, and keep thee: The LORD make his face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee: The LORD lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace. And they shall put my name upon the children of Israel; and I will bless them” (Num. 6:22-27). The Israel of God of old was to recognize that it was God Who blessed them. The Israel of God today, the church, should likewise remember and appreciate that it is God Who blesses us (Gal. 6:16; cf. Eph. 1:3). Maybe we can learn from the mistakes of old so that we do not commit the same mistakes today (1 Cor. 10:1-11).
~ Corey Barnette