Title:  Testing Time      


Summary:  As Christians, we should avoid being overcome by grumbling and faithlessness, but remember that God often tests us for our good to promote personal growth and strengthen us so that we may pass the test and gain the blessing of eternal life.


Text:  Exodus 15:22-17:16


Scripture Reading:  Phil 4:11-13



1.  This is season of . . . TESTS!  Many are taking finals the next couple weeks

          a.  How many love tests?  Is it the highlight of your semester?

          b.  ILL:  Basic Training - To move on, had to graduate

                    - To graduate, had to pass the tests.  Yes, there was more than 1

                    - There was a written test and a physical conditioning test

                    - Even when it came to promotions, some were heavily reliant on

                      the result of tests

          c.  Tests are necessary - academic tests, proficiency tests, other kinds


          d.  Tests are all a part of our training, to help us to the best we can

2.  Does God administer tests? 

          a.  Yes he does

          b.  Part of the story of Exodus is all about tests

3.  What purposes are there behind his tests?

          a.  Will look at purposes behind tests of Israel

          b.  Then we will look at how and why God tests us today

          c.  Keep in mind, it is always for our good

4.  Background

          a.  Egypt enslaved Israel tried to destroy them

          b.  God delivered them with power and wonders, they crossed the sea

          c.  God showed everyone who "Yawheh" is

          d.  Israel has lived in a foreign land in pagan culture with slave mentality

                    - God needs to form them, shape them

                    - Part of this involves periods of testing for them


I.  (Ex 15:22-25) Set out into freedom in the desert/wilderness of Shur

          A.  Anyone ever been to a desert before?  Challenges in the desert

                    1.  Survival training takes place in desert due to meager resources

                    2.  Not a lot of food or water

                    3.  Imagine a whole nation of people in the desert trying to make it

          B.  Three days in the desert until they came to water - poisoned water

                    1.  Now what?  It looks like the are going to die of thirst

                    2.  v.24 - They grumble at Moses - What are we going to drink?

          C.  God's response to their grumbling? 

                    1.  (v.25-26) God "tested" them

                              a.  Was his purpose to try and tempt them?

                              b.  Was God trying to set them up so he could retaliate?

                    2.  God not get angry, but responds to grumbling with care for them

                              a.  Concern for water in the desert a legitimate concern

                              b.  God shows them a tree to make the water sweet

                    3.  v.26 shows the purpose of his test - Not to trip them up

                              a.  To learn to give earnest heed to the voice of Yahweh

                              b.  To learn to keep his commandments and statutes

                              c.  So that God would not put any of the diseases of the

                                   Egyptians on them

                    4.  God calls himself their "healer"

                              a.  Hebrew apr, - to men, repair, restore, make whole

                              b.  Examples of this word

                                        - Jer 3:20-22 - Return, & I will heal your faithlessness

                                        - Hos 14:1-4 - I will heal their waywardness/apostasy

                                        - Hos 11:2-3 - God "healed" Israel as a baby, by

                                          teaching him how to walk - to be good & faithful

                              c.  God "healing" is healing/making whole their relationship

                                   with him as their God

                              d.  For this, they needed to learn to heed his voice

          D.  The test at Marah was so that they could learn to listen to God


II.  (Ex 16:1-3) - 2nd crisis, no food

          A.  It would be tough to find food for one person, but a whole nation?   

                    1.  The people grumbled once again

                    2.  Starving to death in the wilderness vs. dying in Egypt?

                    3.  At least in Egypt, they had plenty of food to eat

          B.  Notice God's response

                    1.  Once again he does not get angry

                              a.  v. 4 - God said he would rain down bread from Heaven        

                              b.  (v.10) Glory of the Lord appeared and spoke to them

                              c.  v.12 - At twilight, they would have meat, in the morning

    they would have bread

                    2.  Food came, just the amount they needed

                              a. Quails covered the camp that evening

                              b. In the morning, a white flaky substance covered the

    ground when the dew evaporated

                              c. Called it "manna" - translated, meaning "what is it"

                                        - It was unlike anything else, no name for it

                                        - They to gather an omer (2 quarts) per person a day

                                        - Not to hoard it overnight, God would provide more

                                        - To gather twice as much on Friday for the Sabbath

                              d.  v.23 - Versatile - Could boil it, bake it, eat in various ways  

                    3.  Some did not listen to God's instruction

                              a.  Some kept extra manna overnight, and it spoiled

                              b.  Others did not gather twice as much on Friday, and did

                                   not find manna on the ground on the Sabbath

                    4.  (v.27-29) For the first time God mildly rebukes them

                              a.  Need to follow God's instructions

                              b.  If you follow his instructions, God will provide

          C.  What is the purpose of the manna and its instructions?

                    1.  (v.4) Once again, it is to "test" them.  What are they to learn?

                    2.  (v.6) There to learn that Yahweh brought them out of Egypt. 

                    3.  (v.12) They would know that he is Yahweh their God

                    4.  What?  Haven't they got it down yet?  Are they dense??

                              a.  We are often very hard on Israel

                              b.  Grew up in pagan culture all their lives

                              c.  How many aspire to do missions in New Guinea?

                                       - Not many.  Why?

                                       - Head hunters, cannibals, medicine men, disease

                                       - But didn't Jesus say, "lo I am with you, even to the

                                         end of the earth?"

                                       - Do you truly believe that Jesus is with you to the end

                                         of the earth?

                              d.  Israel is young, needed to learn that God is with them to

                                   the end of the earth

          D.  Look at what God is obviously trying to each them

                    1.   Everyone had just the right amount of manna for the day

                              a. They were not too keep any of it for the next day

                              b.  They were to only gather two days worth on Friday

                              c.  On Sabbath, God not provide manna

                    2.  God told them to keep a jar of manna be kept as a memorial

                              a.  v.32 - Future generation reminded of God's daily


                              b.  v.35 - God provided for them entire time they in desert         

                    3.  Lesson - Daily trust in God

                              a.  Jesus said we are to pray for our "daily bread"

                              b.  Not worry and obsess about tomorrow

                              c.  God will take care of daily needs if follow his instructions

                    4.  So, they are now ready for graduation after the test?


III. (Ex 17:1) Next crisis - No water

          A.  Hey, they already had this test!  They should know the answer!

          B.  Did they pass?

                    1.  (v.2-3) Now they "quarreled" with Moses!              

                              a.  What happened?  Test anxiety?  Learning disability?

                              b.  They still had a lot to learn

                    2.  (v.4) Must have been bad, they about to stone Moses!

                    3.  (5-7) God a lot more patient with them than we would have been

                              a.  God instructs Moses to strike a rock at Horeb

                              b.  God provided water for them to drink from the rock

          C.  What does this teach us about God?

                    1.  God is patient and gracious, he allows retakes of his tests

                    2.  ILL:  One of my teachers in school allowed retakes if failed

                              a.  As a teacher, his goal was for students to "master the


                              b.  He wasn't out to try and fail us, wanted us to learn

                    3.  God wanted his people also to "master the material"

          D.  God is patient and does not want anyone to perish.


IV.  17:8-16 - Final Crises before Sinai - War

          A.  Amelekites attacked them in the desert.  Perhaps for the water?

          B.  Amazing - Group of former slaves defeat an army

          C.  God makes it very clear that he is responsible for their victory

                    1.  When Moses holds up his arms, Israel is winning

                    2.  When Moses puts down his arms, Amelekites are winning

                    3.  So Aaron and Hur had to help prop of Moses' arms all day

                    4.  Finally, Israel prevailed at the end of the day

          D.  Moses builds an altar and calls it, "Yahweh Nissi" or "Lord my banner

                    1.  The credit goes to God, then marched under his banner

                    2.  God continued to care for them through their tests


V.  Think about what this teaches us

          A.  (Dt 8:1-3) Moses' sermon to Israel before entering the land

                    1.  God was "testing" them in the wilderness

                    2.  They to "master the material"

                    3.  They to learn - Man not live on bread alone but by word of God

                              a.  Our life is not ultimately in bread, clothing, or wealth

                              b.  The word of God is our life

                              c.  If we heed God's instructions, that is our life

          B.  Jesus taught the same lesson in John 6

                    1.  Miraculously fed thousands in the wilderness.  Sound familiar?

a.  v.13 - Twelve baskets of leftovers

b.  When there are leftovers, means they were full

                    2.  (v.41) Jesus said I am the bread of life, and they grumbled. 

                         Sound familiar?

                    3.  (v.47-51) Jesus explains to them what bread of life is            

                              a.  Jesus talks about wilderness experience

                              b.  Manna not bring them eternal life

                              c.  Only bread of heaven can bring eternal life

                              d.  What is this bread?  He said, "I am the living bread"    

                    4.  (v.63) Jesus explains what this bread is

                              a.  His words are spirit and life

                              b.  True life comes from Jesus and his teaching

                              c.  To heed his teaching and example is our life!

          C.  We are still in the wilderness today

                    1.  We have passed through the water from slavery to freedom

                    2.  Now we are in our period of "testing"

                    3.  What are we supposed to learn?

          D.  Look at what Jesus says in the Sermon on the Mount

                    1.  (Mt 6:25) Do not worry about what to eat or wear

                              a.  Is not life more than food and body more than clothing?

                              b.  If that is not our life, then what is our life?

                    2.  (Mt 6:33) Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness

                              a.  Or seek first his kingship/rule/reign in your life

                              b.  Listen to his word, heed his instructions to you

                              c.  God will take care of the rest as he did for Israel



1.  It is the season for tests.  Your entire life is a test

2.  As you are learning, God is patient. 

          a.  That is why we are still here

          b.  God is calling you to freedom (inv)

3.  Are you learning to master the material?

4.  What does it mean? 

          a.  Learn to listen to God in all things

          b.  Put God's will first, seek first his kingdom

          c.  Trust in God's daily provision

5.  (Phil 4:11-13)