The Burden and Freedom of Praise

The Burden and Freedom of Praise

Cornerstone Church,
When we look at Exodus 15 and start looking ahead to chapter 16 we see a couple of surprising things. The beginning of Exodus 15 is when Israel emerges from the Red Sea, and turns to see Yahweh release the seas on top of Pharaoh's entire army. In quite the dramatic fashion, the God of Israel has rescued His people from the clutches of a psychotic, slave-driving tyrant. Israel immediately begins to praise and worship the Lord, singing and dancing in His presence at the beginning of their wilderness journey.

It's a glorious celebration, worthy of the final scene in a movie, much like Dreamworks' Prince of Egypt. But the surprising detail is that it's actually the opening scene in part two of Israel's story. This is where we find ourselves this coming week, on November 19th

Israel JUST experienced an incredible act of provision and rescue from the Lord, and days later they come across a body of water where they expect to rest and refill their canteens. They find that the water is stagnate and bitter however, and begin to cry out against Moses. In desperation and hopelessness they state, "What shall we drink?" Moses relays this to the Lord and He quickly provides for them, and all is well.

Then a few weeks pass and Israel has run out of food, and they begin to cry out against Moses, and now Aaron as well. They cry, "It would have been better that the Lord killed us in Egypt, than take us out here to die in the wilderness." Did they not remember the great miracle of a parted sea? Had they forgotten the plagues which befell the entirety of Egypt, while Israel watched in safety? Had they forgotten the miracle of clean water only a few weeks earlier?

When I read this, I find it so easy to cast judgment on Israel and call them foolish for their actions, but then find myself despairing over tight finances, uncertain circumstances, and even silly things like room arrangements in the ministries I oversee. The Lord is good, and His ways may very well be beyond our own, but He is CONSTANTLY with us. He so often operates in ways that relate directly to us, and minister to us within our very own frameworks and daily lives. He sent His son, incarnate, the Messiah, Immanuel, "God with us." From the inception of Creation, to this very moment, and from now until eternity's edge, He is in control, He is good, and He loves us. You don't love something that you don't interact with and are distant from. You love something that you know, and that you are close with.

When reading this passage, and trying to see how to apply it to our lives, I want us to remember and recognize that there is nothing wrong to lament and ask God, "Why?" But the moment we begin to despair and believe that things would be better for us outside of the will of God, then we are in dangerous waters. Yet, as with the story of Israel, the Lord is gracious and patient to us, often reassuring us and giving us exactly what we need. He loves us with His hesed, His mercy, faithfulness, and steadfast love.

As we prepare for this week, and then communion in the evening, remember Israel's behavior and think of your own. Remember the Lord's goodness, and remember His love and provision for us, both physically and spiritually.

Though He may slay us, we will praise Him. Though the nations rage, kingdoms rise and fall, we will not let the rocks cry out in our place. He is worthy of our adoration, our affection, and our every breath. We look to Him in hard times, and we rejoice that though this world is broken and filled with sorrow, He is good, and He is God.