There are many great stories in these few chapters but they are by far some of my favorite stories in the book of Exodus. Through the stories we get a very good idea of how God chooses to communicate with His people, the Israelites. If you are just hopping into the Bible reading program the main character of this passage is a man named Moses. Moses was a man chosen by God to do great works for the Israelites; Moses was the man who set the Israelites free from Egypt and led them through the desert. The Israelites wandering through the desert is where we pick up the story.
The Israelites had a nasty habit of complaining to God about their so called ‘problems’ and how they are being treated ‘poorly’. Of course, the Israelites had no idea that God always had their back and was always watching over them. The Israelites run into two problems in chapter 17; problem number one, they have no water and problem number two, they are in danger from Amalek. God is not worried by any of this, but because we have little faith sometimes God must intervene for our sake. So God provides water for all of the Israelites through a miracle and does another miracle to protect them from Amalek. The Amalek story in particular always intrigues me. I love how Moses gets support from two of his closest men to help him do his job. Also it’s just cool to see God work through his people to kick some gentile butt.
In chapter 18 we get a good view of how I think the church should be structured. Moses’ dad-in-law, Jethro, comes and sees that Moses is having a hard time coping with all the stress the Israelites put on him. So Jethro gives Moses the advice to put some trusted men in charge of smaller groups of people to handle the small quarrels and disagreements among themselves. This turns out to be great advice and it makes everyone happier. I see God was moving when Jethro came to Moses; that God once again cared for His people even when they didn’t realize that they needed it.
I can’t help but think of how amazing God is when I read chapter 19. The image I get in my head of God covering the mountain with fire and talking through thunder is incredible. What an awesome God we serve! What blows my mind though is how the Israelites didn’t even want to talk to God. They could hear God’s voice, which I think any of us would die to do, and yet they threw it all away. Now it’s not until the end of chapter 20 where we find out that the people don’t want to talk to God. I mean come on how stupid can the Israelites be sometimes? Even though God told them that they would be safe they still felt fear towards Him. This is also the time when God decided to give His people rules to follow that way they could better follow Him. I don’t think the Israelites really understood the greatness of the gifts they were given. Who wouldn’t want God to come down to them in person and tell them exactly how to live there lives. I would love for God to come down and speak to me directly on my life and how I could live better. Anyway, the Israelites said they wanted no part in talking to God, only Moses, so that’s what they got.
We can see God really striving to be with His people in these chapters. He wants so badly for us to have everything we need and be safe so He provides for us. God wants to be with us and speak to us but we, like the Israelites, shy away in fear from God. We get rules from God that He wants us to follow but we always seem to fall short. I can’t help but think that we are like the Israelites; running from God because we are too afraid to speak to Him ourselves, afraid of what He might say. We are always willing to have someone else pray for us or have a pastor talk to God for us but we need to do that ourselves. Let’s not be like the Israelites. Let us walk boldly up the foot of the mountain and talk to God just like He designed us to do. We don’t need a middle man in our lives because we have Jesus. He is our mediator and he does a perfect job for us. It’s through Jesus that we can speak to God. We should not waste this great gift like the Israelites did. We should speak to God and go to Him for everything because He is perfect and longs to provide for us.
— Josiah Cain