Bible Study Review: Exodus 15:22-16

The Story so Far: The people of Israel settled in Egypt during the time of their ancestor Joseph, who saved both them and the people of Egypt from famine.  Generations later the people grew into a large group and a new king came to the thrown who “did not know Joseph” and forced the people into hard labor.  God took notice on the suffering of the people and was moved to act, choosing Moses, a Hebrew raised by Pharaoh’s daughter who ran away from Egypt and began a new life in Midian, as the agent through which the people would be set free.  After ten plagues (the final being the death of the firstborn throughout Egypt), Pharaoh finally allows the people to go before changing his mind and pursuing them with his army.  This leads to a climatic face-off, where God parts the water of the Red Sea and allows the people to cross before the waters come crashing down on Egypt’s army.  Free from captivity, the people are then faced with a journey to the land God has promised their ancersors.  For more details about what’s happened already in Exodus check out previous Bible Study Reviews.


15:22-27 – Introduces a pattern that plays out several times over the next few chapters: the people face a hardship, complain to and about Moses, and then God provides for them.

  • Important to remember: when they were slaves everything was provided for them
    • The people do not know how to provide for themselves, they’ve spent their entire lives being dependent on their masters for everything
  • This issue in this section: water
    • Water = life.  Water is something that cannot be produced.  If it isn’t present it can’t be made to be there.  They can’t work harder and get water, it is something that can only come from God.
      • The New Testament picks up on this idea, using water to represent life in the Gospel, something that can only come from God.
  • God is patient with the people.  God recognizes something important for us to remember: healing takes time.  They are not going to immediately wake up and not have a slave mentality.  Its going to take time for them to get beyond that.  Healing takes time whether it is physical, mental, or emotional.  No healing is instant.

Chapter 16 – Same basic premise pointing to a larger idea: life in the wilderness is hard.  The journey they are on isn’t an easy one.  Healing isn’t easy either.


  • Their present anxiety distorts their memories of the past.  They were slaves in Egypt but they remember it like it was summer camp.  When we’re in crisis we don’t make good decisions.  When we’re desperate we don’t look at things rationally.

4-15 – Manna from Heaven

  • Instead of reprimanding them for their short memory God meets their need.  They are offered an alternative to the way they are accustomed to living
    • Using argument to convince people they’re wrong doesn’t often work.  If we can meet a need then we have an in, we can show an alternative to what they’re used to.

16-30 – Conditions

  • God tells the people to just take what they need and to not try to keep any overnight.
    • This is about breaking habits.  They are learning to trust God’s ability to provide, not their own ability to hoard.  They are learning to trust their neighbor not to take advantage of them, not to assume everyone they meet is looking out for themselves at the expense of others.
  • God places an emphasis on Sabbath
    • This is a huge contrast to their life in Egypt.  In Egypt they had to scrape and claw and work for every morsel, now God gives them their daily bread.  In Egypt what they had was dependent on how much they worked, now they are commanded to take time to rest.
  • Like with water, God’s granting of bread is referenced and given new meaning in the New Testament.  The most obvious example is Jesus’ instruction to his disciples to pray for their “daily bread,” a reminder to trust in God’s provision above our own work.


Takeaway: Throughout the text God seems to place the relationship with the people in terms of an “If/Then” relationship.  If they do this, God will do that.  This isn’t an example of God being petty or controlling, it is a recognition of the fact that they are having to break from from servitude in Egypt and begin to serve and follow God.  They’ll never be free if they keep longing for what Egypt offered.  We cannot break free of anything if we don’t actually give it up.  If we know that we are sinning but keep on doing the same thing we can’t claim to be fighting or struggling against our sin.  To be healed we have to make a clean break from the thing that caused us to be in the mess in the first place.

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