Special Feature | In Times of Fear & Despair
Updated: Mar 28
…it is worth taking a moment to get our bearing. In Exodus 16:1-3, we note it was but a month after Moses, Miriam, and all of Israel sang and celebrated their deliverance from the Egyptians. Having safely crossed the Red Sea, the congregation found itself in the wilderness of Sin between Elim and Sinai. Food rations had dwindled, and the people believed they were beginning to starve. Grumbling began among the people: more than grumbling – a loss of faith. The accusation went out that Moses brought us forth into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger.
God’s response to Moses was that their deprivation was part of a larger test to prove and teach them to trust in and follow His commandments (by no means did God lead the people in the wilderness to starve). God had revealed His plans to call a people for His name since Abrahamic times (Genesis 15:13-14), and through Moses God had told the elders of Israel that He was going to take His people to a land flowing with milk and honey (Exodus 3:17). Up to this point, Israel had followed God’s instructions preserving them from the fate of their neighbors in Egypt, but now the congregation itself was under duress. To whom would they turn? Had they not sung:
The Lord is my strength and my defense
he has become my salvation.
He is my God, and I will praise him,
my father’s God, and I will exalt him.
The Lord is a warrior;
the Lord is his name (Exodus 15:2-3 NIV).
Now was time to put the principle into practice. God informed Moses that He would provide bread from heaven (Exodus 16:4), and Moses informed the people, saying, At even, then ye shall know that the Lord hath brought you out from the land of Egypt (Exodus 16:6). It was important not only that the people knew that they would be cared for, but that there was a plan in place by their Deliverer. However, even after the provision of manna and quail in the desert, it was necessary that reminders of God’s deliverance continue: They shall know that I am the LORD their God who brought them out of the land of Egypt, that I might dwell among them; I am the LORD their God. (Exodus 29:46). This assurance and call to be faithful was repeated again and again through such passages as Exodus 20:2; Leviticus 11:45; 19:36; 22:33; 25:38; 25:42; and 26:13; each time reminding Israel to remember their obligation to God their Deliverer.
Why is God’s deliverance of Israel so important for us to remember? The answer lies in God’s declaration to His people Israel, I am the Lord thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage (Exodus 20:2). God offers freedom and life. He cares deeply for those who serve Him, and even our corruption and weakness in all of its forms is no match for His love and His mighty hand.
Let us therefore take stock in our circumstances! Are we dismayed or frightened by the pestilence and other prophetic signs consuming the world’s attention? Are we fearful for our safety, our health, our daily needs? Has our fear given way to agitation, despair, loss of faith? None of what we are witnessing and experiencing should be a surprise, for have we not been watching for just these very signs as the assurance that our salvation is near? In our mortal state, health and comfort is temporary, all treasures are eventually reclaimed, all injustices are the way of the world which we are in but not of.
We must remember that while we abide in frightening and perilous times, we need not focus on that which we have to fear, but rather on that for which we live in hope. Yahweh is powerful and reliable: One who knows and has both pity and love for His children. God knows those that are His, He knows our needs, and He will perform that which He has promised to those that love him. Remember, God gave His only begotten Son to redeem all of His sons and daughters and to restore the world in righteousness.
In our frail mortal state we will not always be comfortable, but we should always remember that which Moses reminded the children of Israel in Exodus 16, that God is our salvation, and that in times of trouble we are to turn to and lay our cares and fears on Him. We must be careful to allow God His place and voice in our lives through the daily reading of Scripture, and through prayer and petition for wisdom and guidance when we are tried and uncertain. We must also be careful to conduct ourselves as His faithful children and not slaves of sin, digging deep within ourselves to do what we can for others within and without the brotherhood as our redemption draws near, exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching (Hebrews 10:25).
Andrew Johnson, Roselle, IL