Good Old Days of Bondage

Israel And The Good Old Days Of Bondage

In Exodus 16:2-3 we read: "And the whole congregation of the people of Israel grumbled against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness, and the people of Israel said to them, “Would that we had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the meat pots and ate bread to the full, for you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger.”  It is hard to figure that they are so quickly redrawing the picture of their days in Egypt. It has been a grand total of some 6 weeks since they left Egypt (vs. 1). The Egyptians ruthlessly made the people of Israel work as slaves and made their lives bitter with hard service" (Ex. 1:13-14). Their situation was so dire that "the people of Israel groaned because of their slavery and cried out for help" (Ex. 2:23).  God indeed had heard and had raised up Moses who led them out of such bondage. But that was 6 weeks ago.

NOW they are grumbling about their present situation and remembering Egypt as a place of plenty.  Later they would cry "We remember the fish we ate in Egypt that cost nothing, the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, the onions, and the garlic" (Num. 11:5). Cost nothing? It cost them ruthless slavery, hardship, misery.  It cost them the death of the male children. It cost them NOTHING?

Alexander Maclaren put it well: “Men do not know how happy they are until they cease to be so. Our present miseries and our past blessings are the themes on which unbelief harps."  It seems that the opposite of that can also be true. Men often forget how miserable they were and long for 'the good old days'.

The misery in THIS passage is basically the harping of those who don't TRUST God. Such lack of trust is in fact unreasonable. God had heard their cries. God had delivered them from the ruthless bondage of the Egyptians. God had protected them during the plagues on Egypt. God had put the pillar of fire between them and the Egyptian army to protect them. God had separated the sea to allow them to pass over on dry land. God had destroyed the army of Egypt with the same sea. BUT NOW? Where is God NOW?  Is He yet among us?  Will he let us die of hunger here in the desert?  This is a fickle and faithless generation.

Paul writes about Israel in 1 Cor. Chapter 10.  He says that "these things took place as examples for us, that we might not desire evil as they did…. We must not put Christ to the test, as some of them did and were destroyed by serpents,  nor grumble, as some of them did and were destroyed by the Destroyer "  (vs. 6, 9-10).  To emphasize his point, he states a second time that "these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come" (vs. 11).  His application is "therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall (vs. 12).  He reminds us that "no temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it (vs. 13).

God is indeed faithful. Let us trust in Him.

Note, it might be a beneficial thing to read this section of 1 Corinthians daily as we read through the history of Israel in the wilderness !