The Articles of Ellen Gould Harmon White as printed in the Signs of the Times.
April 15, 1880 Journeyings of the Israelites
Filed under: EG White Articles

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By Mrs. E. G. White.
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While wandering in the , the were preserved by a continual of in the falling of the . In the morning they were to go out and gather food for the day,–an for every person. They were commanded not to let any of this remain until the morning; nevertheless, some of them did attempt to keep a supply until the next day; but it bred worms and became offensive.

On the , it was found that a double quantity had been deposited, and the people gathered two omers for every person. When the rulers saw what they were doing, they hastened to acquaint of this apparent violation of his directions; but his answer was, “This is that which the Lord hath said, Tomorrow is the rest of the holy unto the Lord. Bake that which ye will bake today, and seethe that ye will seethe; and that which remaineth over, lay up for you, to be kept until the morning.” They did so, and found that it remained unchanged. And Moses said, “Eat that today, for today is a Sabbath unto the Lord. Today ye shall not find it in the field. Six days ye shall gather it; but on the seventh day, which is the Sabbath, in it there shall be none.”

The Lord is no less particular now in regard to his Sabbath, than when he gave the foregoing special directions to the children of Israel. He required them to bake that which they would bake, and seethe (that is, boil) that which they would seethe, on the sixth day, preparatory to the rest of the Sabbath. Those who neglect to make suitable preparation on the sixth day for the Sabbath, violate the fourth commandment, and are transgressors of God’s law. In his instructions to the Israelites, God forbade baking and boiling upon the Sabbath. That prohibition should be regarded by all Sabbath-keepers, as a solemn injunction from Jehovah to them. The Lord would guard his people from indulging in gluttony upon the Sabbath, which he has set apart for sacred meditation and worship.

The Sabbath of the Lord is a day of rest from labor, and the diet should then be more simple, and a less quantity should be taken, than upon the six working days. Many have erred in failing to practice self-denial upon the Sabbath. They partake of full meals, as on the six laboring days, and as a consequence, their minds are beclouded, they are stupid and drowsy, and often suffer with headache. In this condition they can have no truly devotional feelings, and the blessing resting upon the Sabbath, does not prove a blessing to them. The sick and suffering require care and attention upon the Sabbath as well as upon other days of the week; and it may be necessary for their comfort to prepare warm food and drinks. In such instances, it is no violation of the fourth commandment to make them as comfortable as possible. The great Lawgiver is a God of compassion as well as of justice.

God manifested his great care and love for his people in sending them bread from heaven. “Man did eat angels’ food;” that is, food provided for them by the angels. The three-fold miracle of the manna–a double quantity on the sixth day, and none upon the seventh, and its keeping fresh through the Sabbath, while upon other days it would become unfit for use–was designed to impress the Israelites with the sacredness of the Sabbath. After they were abundantly supplied with food, they were ashamed of their unbelief and murmurings, and promised to trust the Lord for the future; but they soon forgot their promise, and failed at the first trial of their faith.

After leaving the wilderness of Sin, the children of Israel encamped in Rephidim, where there was no water. Again they distrusted the providence of God, and such was their blindness and presumption that they now came boldly up to Moses with the demand, “Give us water, that we may drink!” His patience failed not. “Why chide ye with me?” he said, “Wherefore do ye tempt the Lord?” “Wherefore is this,” they cried, “that thou hast brought us up out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and our cattle with thirst?”

Thus they began again to reason from the promptings of their own natural heart. The pillar of cloud seemed to them a fearful mystery, and as to that man Moses, who was he, and what object had he in attempting to lead them out of Egypt? They even accused him of designing to kill them and their children with privations and hardships, and then enriching himself with their possessions. But Moses prayed earnestly, and the Lord directed him to take the elders of Israel, and the rod wherewith he smote the river, and to go on before the people. And “Behold,” says the Lord, “I will stand before thee there upon the rock in Horeb, and thou shalt smite the rock, and there shall come water out of it, that the people may drink.” He did so, and the water gushed out in such abundance as to satisfy their thirst.

The cloud of glory rested directly before the rock. Had that cloud been removed, the people would have been destroyed by the brightness of the glory. Christ would have been revealed in his glorious form standing by the rock. But as it was, the glory of the Lord was seen by all the congregation who stood at a distance.

Here we see the matchless mercy of Jesus Christ displayed. Instead of commanding Moses to lift up his rod and call down some terrible plague upon the wicked leaders in this murmuring, as he had done upon the Egyptian leaders, he was simply told to take some of the leading men of Israel to be eye-witnesses of a miracle which Christ himself would perform for their deliverance. 

It was Moses who “clave the rocks in the wilderness, and gave them drink as out of the great depths,” who “brought streams also out of the rock, and caused waters to run down like rivers.” It was he who smote the rock, but it was Christ who stood beside him and caused the life-giving water to flow.

In their thirst, the people had tempted God, saying, “Is the Lord among us, or not?” If God has brought us here, why does he not give us water as well as bread? That if showed criminal unbelief, and Moses feared that the judgments of God would rest upon them for their sin. And he called the name of the place Massah, temptation, and Meribah, chiding, as a memorial of their wicked murmurings.

God directed the children of Israel to encamp in that place, where there was no water, to prove them, to see if they would look to him in their distress, or murmur as they had previously done. They should have known that he would not permit those to perish with thirst, whom he had promised to take unto himself as his people. But instead of humbly entreating the Lord to provide for their necessity, they murmured against Moses, and demanded of him, water. God had been continually manifesting his power before them in a wonderful manner, to make them understand that all the benefits which they received came from him; that he could give them, or remove them, according to his own will. At times they had a full sense of this, and humbled themselves greatly before the Lord; but when brought into straight places they charged all their troubles upon Moses, as though they had left Egypt to please him.

Had not the Lord been slow to anger, and mercifully considerate of the ignorance and weakness of the children of Israel, he would have destroyed them in his wrath. He exercises the same pitying tenderness toward modern Israel. But we are less excusable than was ancient Israel. We have had every opportunity to elevate and ennoble our characters, which they did not have. We also have their history, recorded that we may shun their example of unbelief and impatient murmuring and rebellion.

Had they reformed and become obedient to God’s commandments, he would have established them in the land of Canaan, a holy and happy people, without a feeble one in all their ranks. But their lack of faith called down upon them the just displeasure of God; and so it will upon us in these last days if we do not trust God any further than we can see. We should seek God in prayer, constant, earnest, heartfelt, prayer. He will reward all who diligently seek him, for he has told us that the fervent, effectual prayer of the righteous availeth much.

The children of Israel tarried some time in this pleasant spot where there was plenty of water. The Amalekites, a tribe inhabiting that part of the country through which they were passing, became greatly disturbed by this. They felt that their territory had been invaded by this immense number of people, and they now came out to make war against them. Moses therefore directed Joshua to choose out soldiers and take them on the morrow to give battle with the enemy, while he himself would stand upon an eminence near by, with the rod of God in his hand. Accordingly, the next day Moses and Aaron and Hur took their position on the top of an adjoining hill, while Joshua and his company attacked the foe.

As the battle progressed, it was found that while Moses held up his hands toward heaven, entreating help from God, Israel prevailed; but when, through weariness, they were lowered, the enemy was victorious. Aaron and Hur stayed up the arms of Moses, and so, through the rest of that day, success was with the Israelites, and at its close the enemy was put to flight.

This act of Moses, in reaching up his hands toward heaven, was to teach Israel that while they made God their trust, and exalted his throne, he would fight for them, and subdue their enemies. But when they should let go their hold upon his strength, and should trust to their own power, they would be even weaker than those who had not the knowledge of God, and their enemies would prevail against them. Then “Joshua discomfited Amalek and his people with the edge of the sword. And the Lord said unto Moses, Write this for a memorial in a book, and rehearse it in the ears of Joshua; for I will utterly put out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven. And Moses built an altar, and called the name of it Jehovah-nissi; for he said, Because the Lord hath sworn that the Lord will have war with Amalek from generation to generation.” If the children of Israel had not murmured against the Lord, he would not have suffered their enemies to make war with them. 

Before Moses reached Egypt on his mission to deliver the Israelites, he had, as we have seen, sent his wife Zipporah and her sons back to her father’s house. When Jethro heard of the deliverance of the Hebrews, he visited Moses in the wilderness, and brought to him his wife and children. On learning of their approach, the great leader went out to welcome them, and after the first greetings and salutations had been exchanged, he conducted them to his tent. Here he related all the wonderful dealings of God with Israel. Jethro rejoiced, and blessed the Lord in words that show the devoutness of his heart, and having offered sacrifices to God, he made a feast to the elders of Israel.

Jethro’s discerning eye soon saw that the burdens upon Moses were very great, as the people brought all their matters of difficulty to him, and he instructed them in regard to the statutes and law of God. He therefore counseled Moses to select proper persons and put them as rulers over thousands, also others over hundreds, and again others over tens. The men chosen for these important positions were to be “able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness.” The most difficult cases were to be brought before Moses, who was to be the people, said Jethro, “to God-ward, that thou mayest bring the causes unto God. And thou shalt teach them ordinances and laws, and shalt show them the way wherein they must walk, and the work that they must do.”

This advice was followed, and not only was Moses relieved of too heavy a burden, but more perfect order was established among the people. “And Moses let his father-in-law depart, and he went his way into his own land.”

The leader of Israel was not above receiving instruction from his father-in-law. The Lord has greatly exalted Moses, and had wrought wonders by his hand; yet he did not conclude that because God had chosen him to instruct others, he needed not to be instructed, He gladly listened to the suggestions of Jethro, and adopted his plan as a wise arrangement.

Jenny @ 4:43 am