Lesson 34

Israel’s Wilderness Experiences

"Our fathers did eat manna in the desert; as it is written,
He gave them bread from heaven to eat."
John 6:31

At last the Israelites were free from their slavery. They began the long trek through the desert to the land of Canaan. God led them by day with a cloud and by night with a pillar of fire. The Israelites were taught many lessons of faith during the forty years they wandered in the wilderness.

Every night God sent manna for them to eat. It took time and patience every morning to gather and prepare the small grains. Each person was allowed an omer, about seven pints. The manna would spoil after twenty-four hours except that gathered on the sixth day, which stayed fresh over the Sabbath.

In spite of all that God had done for them, the Israelites soon became dissatisfied with the manna. They cried for the fish of Egypt as well as its cucumbers and onions and melons (Numbers 11:5, 6). So the LORD sent a wind from the sea and many birds (quail) flew with this wind. The quail grew tired from their long flight; they flew very low so the Hebrews easily caught them. The people ate and ate and ate—so much that many became ill and some died.

At different times the people complained to Moses because there was no water to drink. He sweetened the waters at Marah by throwing a certain tree into it. At other times he struck a rock with his rod and water gushed forth to refresh the people. What a beautiful picture of the death of Jesus (smiting the rock) and the gushing water picturing the great river of truth that flowed forth because of his death.

Another experience was a plague of fiery serpents. God told Moses to make a serpent of copper and raise it up on a pole where all could see it. When the Israelites looked at the copper serpent they were healed of their snake bites. The serpents represented sin, which would bring death. God provided life for the sin-bitten world through the crucifixion of Jesus. He was treated as a sinner in order that sinners (all of mankind) might one day be freed from sin and death.

A man named Korah led a conspiracy against Moses’ leadership. The result was that Korah and those with him were cast into a pit to die. This is a picture of Satan and all the opponents of Messiah perishing in the second death in the next age.

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