In these chapters, the Lord proves himself to be Jehovah Jireh, the Great Provider for his people. Beginning in chapter 15, there is a series of grumbling from the Israelites, followed by provision from God. These are as follows:
- Immediately after singing a song of praise to the Lord for rescuing them from the Egyptians, the Israelites begin grumbling about bitter water they could not drink. Moses asked God about it. God made the water sweet after a piece of wood was thrown in and he said, “If you keep my commands, you will find that I’m your healer.” (cross reference: Jesus – John 5:1-15).
- Shortly after this, the Israelites started grumbling that they had nothing to eat – and no meat. Moses asked God about it. God provided 6 solid days of manna (in the morning) and quail (in the evening) for the people to eat. But they couldn’t keep any of it overnight or it spoiled. This taught them that the Lord alone is their source of sustenance – the bread of life (cross reference: Jesus – John 6:35).
- Shortly after this, the Israelites began grumbling about a lack of water. Moses asked God about it. God told him to strike a rock with his staff and water poured out. This taught the people that God alone was living water (cross reference: Jesus – John 4:10).
In addition to these things that the Israelites grumbled about and received, God also provided for them in the following ways:
- He gave them a victory over the Amalekites. While Moses’ hands were raised, the Israelites were winning, but whenever they fell down, the Amalekites were winning. John Wesley explains, “To convince Israel that the hand of Moses (with whom they had just now been chiding) contributed more to their safety than their own hands; the success rises and falls, as Moses lifts up or lets down his hand.” The staff Moses raised was an appeal to the Lord for victory – the battle belongs to the Lord, and he proved it that day (cross reference: Proverbs 21:31).
- Additionally, God provided Moses with his father-in-law Jethro. Jethro came to visit Moses in the desert, rejoiced with him over all that God had done, and seems to have put his own faith in the Lord because of it (Exodus 18:9). Then, he witnessed the pattern that had begun to be established in the Israelite camp in which ALL the problems and complaints came directly to Moses alone from the people. He gave Moses some much needed advice that saved Moses a great deal of trouble in the future. He said, “Teach them God’s laws. Assign godly men as representatives to judge portions of the people. Only take on the very most difficult cases yourself.” In this way, Jethro’s advice (led by Jehovah Jireh) provided Moses with a better situation for dealing with the Israelites.
He is still Jehovah Jireh
God is still Jehovah Jireh, the Provider, today. He provides us all with everything (Acts 17:25). He takes care of our physical, bodily needs, as he did for the Israelites. He also provides help in times of trouble, guidance in times of doubt, and hope in times of worry. God is our Great Provider, so we would do well to remember to take all our requests to him (with less grumbling than the Israelites, and more obedience to His Word as he commands – Exodus 15:26, John 5:14).