Unification Sermons and Talks
by Reverend Joy Pople
Wilderness Lesson 1: Trust
Exodus 15:22 - 17:7
After the Israelites celebrated their deliverance from the Egyptian army, they began their march across the wilderness. This country was not like the land of Goshen. There were no fields of grain, no grassy pasture for their flocks and herds.
When they came to a camping place, they and their animals were thirsty. At first they were happy to find a spring of water, but when they tasted the water it was so bitter they could not swallow it.
They blamed Moses for their troubles. He felt sorry for the people and cried to God for help, and God told him what to do.
Near the spring grew a tree. God told Moses to cut this tree down and throw it into the spring. When Moses did this, the water became sweet. The people drank deeply and were satisfied. There was plenty of water for the animals as well.
God wanted to teach the people to trust Him no matter what kind of trouble they faced. God said, "If you do what is right in My sight, I will be with you. I will be your healer."
Next the people moved to a beautiful oasis with 70 palm trees and twelve wells of water. They were happy to camp in such a pleasant place.
After the people had a chance to rest, the cloud of God's presence lifted and began to move slowly ahead. By this sign the people knew God wanted to lead them farther on their journey. They took down their tents and moved on. They had to cross a great desert in order to get to the mountain where God had spoken to Moses from the burning bush.
Like small children, the people complained. There was little food to eat in the wilderness, and the people became hungry. They forgot how much they had suffered in Egypt. They forgot how many times God had helped them out of trouble. They only thought of their stomachs.
"We wish we had never left Egypt," they said. "There we had plenty of meat and bread. But you have brought us out into the wilderness to die of hunger."
It hurt Moses to hear the people complain. God told Moses, "The people are sinning against Me when they find fault with you. I will not let them die of hunger. I want them to know that I am the giver of all their blessings. In the evening I will send meat to them, and in the morning I will give them bread from heaven."
In the evening quail flew into the camp, and the people killed the little birds and cooked them. The next morning there was a layer of dew on the ground. When the dew was gone, it left thin white flakes on the ground. Moses told the people this was food sent by God. "Go and gather it," he said. "Get as much as you will need for today. Do not keep any for tomorrow, because God will send a fresh supply each day. Each morning He will cause this bread to fall, except on the seventh day because God wants you to keep that day holy and not do any work. On the sixth day you must gather twice as much as usual and keep what is left over for the seventh day. What you keep for the seventh day will not spoil."
The people rushed out and gathered manna from the ground and made it into cakes. It tasted like wafers made with honey.
Some of the people did not obey Moses and tried to keep manna from one day to the next, but the bread spoiled. Some people did not gather twice as much on the sixth morning, and when they went out on the Sabbath they found no manna.
Except on the Sabbath, God sent manna to the Israelites every morning until they reached Canaan.
God continued leading them on. They had bread every day, but they reached a place where there was no water. They were thirsty, but instead of trusting God to help them the people complained to Moses. "Did you bring us out of Egypt to die here of thirst?" they asked.
Moses said to God, "What shall I do for my people? They are so angry they are almost ready to kill me."
The Lord answered, "Take the elders of Israel and go to Mount Horeb. Strike the rock with the staff, and water will come out for all the people to drink."
Moses did as the Lord commanded. There were no springs or rivers in sight, but when Moses struck the rock, fresh water flowed out and the people drank.
Joy Pople (firstname.lastname@example.org) wrote this Bible story from the standpoint of the Divine Principle.
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