One of my favorite Bible stories has always been the Israelites escaping from Egypt. Everything from the plagues, to Moses parting the Red Sea, to manna falling from heaven was exciting.
As I've gotten older, I've come to love the Israelites' story for more than just the cinematic thrill. Even now, thousands of years after the story was recorded, there are still important lessons we can learn from the Israelites.
1. Be patient
The Israelites waited generations to be freed from bondage. However, once they were free, they expected all their problems to be solved immediately and for the Lord to take care of everything. When they got tired of eating manna, they complained. They complained when Moses told them what to do, and then when he didn't. God performed miracle after miracle for them, but it was never enough.
It's no wonder they spent 40 years wandering in the wilderness. They lacked the patience and discipline necessary to be worthy of the blessings they wanted. It's a difficult lesson to learn, especially if you've been waiting for something good for a very long time, but impatience only leads to restless wandering. The phrase, "Good things come to those who wait," is a cliché for a reason - it's true.
2. Faith must be nurtured
The plagues and the parting of the Red Sea were just the beginning of the miracles God rained down upon the children of Israel. They had every reason to believe that God would protect them and lead them to their promised land. Instead, they doubted. All they saw was their own suffering, which prevented them from appreciating the miracles that surrounded them every day.
Faith is not something that can just be handed to you; it must be nurtured. A miracle - no matter how large or small - isn't going to shape your faith, but the way you respond to it will.
3. God loves his children
The Old Testament God is often portrayed as a jealous, angry god. It's not hard to see why after seeing what he had to put up with. Even Moses had his faith struggles. However, through every complaint and every sin, God's "hand was stretched out still." (Isaiah 10:4 KJV) The children of Israel were punished for their wrongdoings, but God never abandoned them. He was always there to pick them back up after they fell.
4. It will work out in the end
After Pharaoh finally let the Israelites go, they were faced with another impossible obstacle: crossing the Red Sea. Even after all they had gone through to get to that point, though, they were ready to throw in the towel.
That's when Moses stopped them and said, "Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will shew to you to day: for the Egyptians whom ye have seen to day, ye shall see them again no more for ever. The Lord shall fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace." (Exodus 14: 13-14 KJV)
And then the Lord parted the Red Sea.
None of us know how our lives are going to work out. When trials threaten to crush you, it's difficult to see how you will ever escape. But if there is one lesson to be learned from the Israelites, it's that there is always hope, and things tend to work out in the end.