Tuesday, December 17, 2013

In Between Elim and Sinai is Sin -- Exodus 16:1-3


Then they set out from Elim, and all the congregation of the sons of Israel came to the wilderness of Sin, which is between Elim and Sinai, on the fifteenth day of the second month after their departure from the land of Egypt.  And the whole congregation of the sons of Israel grumbled against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness.  And the sons of Israel said to them, “Would that we had died by the Lord’s hand in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the pots of meat, when we ate bread to the full; for you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger.”
 
After resting by the waters of Elim, the entire group of Israelites moved on and came to the wilderness of Sin.  In studying Strong’s Lexicon of the Bible one notes that ‘Sin’ is quite different from ‘sin’.  The latter in Hebrew is the word chatta'ath while the former and the one in our verse here is the word Ciyn.  This Ciyn literally means ‘thorn’ or ‘clay’ and it was the name of both a town in eastern Egypt as well as a tract of wilderness between Elim and Sinai.   It is at this wilderness that the children of Israel have now arrived at this point in our text.  And remember they were on route to Sinai where they would meet with God and receive His Law through Moses. 
The date given in the text is significant to the extent that it marks one month after leaving Egypt, since they left on the fifteenth of the previous month (Exodus 12:18).  And as you can imagine by now any provisions they had brought along were altogether or almost depleted.  Furthermore, the chance of getting any food easily in the desert was miniscule.  The scene was ripe for “mutiny in the desert”.
And as if on cue, all the people of Israel grumbled against both Moses and his brother Aaron.  We all know what happens when someone gets really hungry.  While there is some justification in their behavior – after all, the human body has to eat, for the Israelites it was as if they had never lived under bondage and slavery back in Egypt.  All that mattered right now was that they were about to starve to death in the desert.  In fact, their hunger caused them to forget the ordeals they underwent back in Egypt.  They could only remember the high times when they were feasting.  People are like that.  When people look back on broken relationships, they remember the good times, and seem to forget the abuse they experienced in that relationship.  And so now without food, the Israelites were wishing they had been left to die with their stomachs full in Egypt rather than die of hunger in the desert.
When we focus on our material, even physical, needs, we miss the big picture that God sees.  So we grumble.  Then we blame others for things, that if we stopped to think about just a little, we know are not true.  And so it was with the Israelites who blamed both Moses and Aaron for bringing them to the wilderness to “kill them”.  How wrong can we be some times?
If you are still grumbling today, yes by all means get something to eat.  Then start trying to see the big picture.  Distinguish fairly between who or what the problem you face really is.  Ask God to help you see the big picture of your life and then work with Him to overcome whatever it is that is holding you back in the place of ‘Sin’ and preventing you from moving on towards your Sinai.
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