Wavering Hearts: Part 1 (Lessons from Exodus)

The  Praises of Israel

Then Moses and the sons of Israel sang this song to the L ord , and said, “I will sing to the L ord , for He is highly exalted; The horse and its rider He has hurled into the sea. “The L ord is my strength and song, And He has become my salvation; This is my God, and I will praise Him; My father’s God, and I will extol Him. “The L ord is a warrior; The L ord is His name. – Exodus 15:1-3, NASB

The Israelites of Moses’ generation are infamous for their oscillating hearts. This song of praise we find on the lips of Moses and Israel here in Exodus 15 was sung right after their journey through the Red Sea. They saw God part the waters. They crossed on the dry ground with walls of water on either side of them. Then they watched the waters close in on Pharoah and his chariots.

The Complaints of Israel

I don’t know about you but I would be singing some praise and probably doing a little praise dance too. But check them out when they stood with their backs to the Red Sea and Pharoah in hot pursuit:

As Pharaoh drew near, the sons of Israel looked, and behold, the Egyptians were marching after them, and they became very frightened; so the sons of Israel cried out to the L ord . Then they said to Moses, “Is it because there were no graves in Egypt that you have taken us away to die in the wilderness? Why have you dealt with us in this way, bringing us out of Egypt? Is this not the word that we spoke to you in Egypt, saying, ‘Leave us alone that we may serve the Egyptians’? For it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the wilderness.” – Exodus 14:10-12, NASB

Take note that the Israelites’ grumbling did not start there at the Red Sea. They reminded Moses, “Is this not the word that we spoke to you in Egypt, saying, ‘Leave us alone that we may serve the Egyptians’? For it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the wilderness.” (Ex 14:12) Is this not the same word that we spoke to you in Egypt?

As soon as Moses walked back into Egypt claiming that Yahweh, the God of Isreal, had sent him to set them free they began grumbling against Moses. They believed Moses at first but only because he performed miraculous signs for the elders of Isreal. (Ex 4:29-31) But as soon as things didn’t go the way they thought things should they rebuked Moses and Aaron for making them “odius in Pharaoh’s sight.” (Ex 5:20-21)

The Wavering Heart of Israel

This was their continual attitude throughout the whole ordeal in Egypt. You don’t see any praise or gratitude from the Israelites in the book of Exodus until chapter fifteen – after the Red Sea incident. You don’t even see any gratitude from them as they plundered the Egyptians for their silver, gold and clothing on their way out of Egypt. It took something as drastic as the Red Sea crossing to get them to sing this song of praise.

So here we are with these grumbling, ungrateful people and then all of a sudden you think you are witnessing this change of heart as they burst into praise… but then…

Then Moses led Israel from the Red Sea, and they went out into the wilderness of Shur; and they went three days in the wilderness and found no water. When they came to Marah, they could not drink the waters of Marah, for they were bitter; therefore it was named Marah. So the people grumbled at Moses, saying, “What shall we drink?” – Exodus 15:22-24

Just three days later they are grumbling again because they didn’t have water. This was their continual pattern throughout their journey through the wilderness. Praising God when they saw Him perform extra ordinary miracles, or when He met their immediate physical needs; and then grumbling against Moses when things weren’t going the way they thought they should. Continuously oscillating back and forth.

There is a lot we can learn from the wavering hearts of the Israelites. Too much to cover in one post. So we’ll look at some of it in my next article. For right now, the food for thought I want you to consider is simple.

Have you ever found yourself in a position where you can identify with the Israelites? Giving praise to God and feeling grateful when you see things happen that only He could’ve done, or when everything in your life is to your liking; but then questioning, doubting or even complaining when something that doesn’t meet your approval occurs?

I think we can all be like the Israelites at times. Oscillating in our praise and complaints depending on the situation. At least I know I can. It is simply a natural human tendency due to our fallen nature. God’s dealings with the Israelites in regards to their wavering hearts can give us some great insights into how to conquer the struggle within us. As long as we are honest about it.

Joseph Sterling

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