young boy trying snow shoes February 7 Chronological Bible Study

Timeline. Map. Go to today's Bible reading: Exodus 16, 17, 18

Learning to Live by Faith

Whenever we learn a new skill or face a new challenge we usually struggle at first. Yet, we have faith that eventually we will learn by experience. Today's Bible study is learning to live by faith.

Hebrew 11:1 says, “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see,” (NIV). When our basic needs are secure (meaning at least our food, water, clothing, and shelter are provided for), we may not see a need for faith. What happens, however, if the economy turns sour? What happens if you lose your job or your health, and you are not independently wealthy? Will you sink in despair, gripe and complain, or will you turn in faith to God? If the truth be told, most of us would do the former before we would turn in faith to God. We need to learn to live by faith.

As was mentioned in our previous lessons, the Israelites had been enslaved by the Egyptians and had been influenced by their worship of false gods. They were not well acquainted with the God that delivered them from their bondage and gave them victory over the Egyptians. When they went into the desert, they complained to their leadership that there was no food or water. God was gracious to the grumblers because they had not learned to live by faith.

How do we learn to live by faith? Faith in God is a simple childlike trust. Some have it, but most must learn it. How? First, we must experience some difficulties where we see no natural solution. There were few places in the desert wilderness where 600,000 Israelite men and their women and children could find food and water; there were no natural solutions for them. Is there some difficulty that you are experiencing with no natural solution? That is what God specializes in doing - the impossible.

Second, we must learn that God can supply all our needs. In answer to the grumbling Israelites, The LORD said to Moses,

I have heard the grumbling of the Israelites. Tell them, “At twilight you will eat meat, and in the morning you will be filled with bread. Then you will know that I am the LORD your God.” (Exodus 16:12, NIV).

Every morning of their forty year trek in the wilderness dew would appear on the ground. When it dried there would be small wafers left. They called it “Manna” since they did not know what it was (Manna means “What is it?”). They were to gather it every day and not save any for the next day. On the sixth day they were to gather twice as much so they would have some for the seventh day. On the seventh day there would be no Manna on the ground so that they could rest on the Sabbath. God did this to test the Israelites to see if they would follow his instructions. Unfortunately, they failed. In the evening they had quail to eat for meat. God provided their needs, even in the desert, and by doing so they came to know that he was the LORD their God. If he could provide their needs in a way that only he could do, they would learn faith. But unfortunately, they were slow learners. God can provide all our needs, even in unlikely places like a desert.

In John 6:31-35 Jesus described himself as the Bread of life from heaven. “Then Jesus declared, ‘I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty,’” (NIV). Have you received Jesus? Only he can satisfy the hunger and thirst of your soul. Only he can bring you peace (more...). Christians, are you depending on him for your strength every day? He will provide all your needs (Matthew 6:25-34; Philippians 4:19).

In Exodus 17 the people again complained to Moses about not having water to drink. This time they quarreled with Moses and threatened to stone him. Leadership can be pretty tough at times. God's response was for Moses to have some of the elders accompany him as a testimony of God's miraculous power. The elders and Moses witnessed God doing the unthinkable - he provided water from a rock! A person might ask, “How would striking a rock provide water? Did he loosen an underground spring? If he did (naturally speaking), how would Moses know which rock was holding back a spring capable of quenching the thirst of 600,000 men, and their women, children, and livestock?” What a gusher that must have been! What a miracle! Again, God is the one who can quench our thirst. God is our provider and sustainer in difficult times. Seeing this miracle, the elders would be less likely to criticize Moses and would be able to lead their families in faith when the next crisis would come.

After this miraculous provision of water from a rock, Israel was attacked by the Amalekites. Perhaps the Amalekites were threatened by this horde of people in their neighborhood. When they were attacked, Moses said to Joshua, “Choose some of our men and go out to fight the Amalekites. Tomorrow I will stand on top of the hill with the staff of God in my hands,” (Exodus 17:9, NIV). The staff Moses held became a symbol of God’s power, so that when Moses raised the staff like a banner Israel was winning, but when he lowered it the Amalekites were winning. Seeing this, Aaron and Hur held his arms up. The Israelites won a great victory that day; God was their banner and he helped them win. Undoubtedly, this event helped them learn to trust in God. When God helps us win victories we also come to trust in him.

Moses needed help. He could not bear the burden of all the Israelite people alone. Under the advice of Moses’ father-in-law, he divided up his responsibilities to better serve his countrymen and himself. Moses was now God’s representative before the people. The tough cases were brought before him, and he brought them before the LORD. Moses trained the elders to make lower decisions with justice. The division of the responsibilities amongst the elders of Israel gave them opportunities to learn to live by faith as they helped settle the cases brought before them. God can help us make good decisions if we will learn his ways (from the Bible) and learn to trust him.

Lessons to live by:

  • If we do not have childlike trust in God, how do we learn to live by faith? First, we must experience some difficulties where we see no natural solution. Second, we must learn that God can supply all our needs.
  • God can provide all our needs, even in unlikely places like a desert.
  • Only Jesus can satisfy the hunger and thirst of your soul (more...).
  • God is our provider and sustainer in difficult times.
  • When God helps us win victories we come to trust in him.
  • Give others the opportunity to learn to live by faith. Do not bear the yoke by yourself.

Today’s Bible memory verse:

Psalm 119:71 “It was good for me to be afflicted so that I might learn your decrees.” (NIV)

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