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Daily Devotional

February 13

THE PEOPLE MURMURED AGAINST MOSES SAYING WHAT SHALL WE DRINK

by Henry T. Vriesen

Exodus 15–16

After the Israelites had experienced their great deliverance from the Egyptian army, they began their march across the wilderness of Shur. This was a country very unlike the land of Goshen, where they had lived. No waving fields of grain were to be seen; no grassy pastures for their flocks and herds were to be found. Sand, sand, barren and dreary. Here and there the bleached bones of an animal. Here and there a coarse weed or shrub. Very seldom a green oasis with beautiful palm trees.

Three days the Israelites marched through the barren territory, and no water was to be found. Everybody was dry and thirsty when they arrived at Marah, where they found some springs. But the water was so salty they could not drink it. What could be done? They complained to Moses, and he cried unto the Lord. His prayer was answered. The Lord showed Moses a tree. This tree he cast into the waters and the water became pure and good, so the people could drink and be refreshed.

God wished to teach the people to trust in him when troubles came. He probably wished to show them by this miracle how he could heal and help when sickness should come to them. He promised them at this time, that, if the people would obey his voice and do right, they would not have to suffer from the diseases that he had brought upon the Egyptians. He told them, “I am the Lord that healeth thee.”

From Marah the Israelites went on through the sandy desert and after some time came to Elim, a lovely oasis surrounded by the bare and barren wilderness. It was a beautiful spot, fresh and green and shady. There they found seventy tall majestic palm trees, and plenty of good water from twelve springs. What a comfort, what a relief, after the hardships of the hot and dreary wilderness. The people pitched their tents beneath the trees and drank from the wells. They were glad to find such a pleasant place to camp, and enjoyed this privilege for a number of days.

But they had to move again. The pillar of cloud directed them, and the people understood that the Lord wanted to lead them farther on their journey. So they had to leave the palm trees behind and prepare to go forward. Now they entered a great desert country which lay between Elim and the mountain where the Lord spoke to Moses from the burning bush. It was well known to Moses. It was called the wilderness of Sin.

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