Troublesome Topic: God Led Them Through Suffering and Death

Lesson 2 of 7

The exodus was not a walk through the park—unless you mean Death Valley National Park. To get to the land promised to the descendants of Abraham they had to pass through the desert. All people of Bible times understood the desert, called the wilderness, as a place of suffering and death. The reasons for this perception are obvious and revolve primarily around the lack of basic resources needed to stay alive. To pass through a desert meant to suffer a lack of those basic needs and possibly even to confront death.

Moses took a census and found there were 603,550 men age 20 and older. If each of those men had a wife and three children, the total number would be just over 3 million people. But this estimate is on the low end of the scale because most families back then probably had more than three children each. Thus the total population of the people of Israel at that time could realistically have been between 5 million and 6 million.

Imagine around 6 million people travelling through the desert together with their herds of sheep, goats and a few cattle. While there were some Bedouins who managed (and still manage) to live in those conditions, there would not be near enough food and water for six million people in one place at one time in that desert setting. Yet God proved Himself faithful time after time. He proved that they could depend on Him.

Learning to Trust

God took them through a wilderness experience in order to teach them to depend on Him. He took them through places where even the most caring father could not begin to provide food and water for his family, they were forced to depend on this God whom most of them had not known much about a few short months before. This first lesson was a difficult one, but it was monumental in terms of them becoming God’s agents for redemption. He wanted them to learn that they could trust Him with their very lives, and that if they were to be an effective part of the plan He had for mankind, they needed to learn to do things His way. Through this pressure-cooker-style of learning they would also come to comprehend that even when it makes no sense to us, God does know what He is doing, and His way is always best.

All of us today must ask ourselves a key question:  Have I been taken through the dessert and have I learned the lessons there for me? Have I gone through a spiritual death? Notice that this most difficult experience, chosen by God for a training ground, came at the very beginning of their experience with God. If we think we can follow God, and be useful in serving Him without passing through a wilderness experience of a spiritual death, without giving up our will and self-reliance, we are not on the same page, not talking about the same God.

For the short and medium length series on Covenants, the next lesson is: Why Did God Give the Law?

For the full length version, the next lesson is: God Made Them a Generous Offer