Exodus 17: Observation, Interpretation, Application

Exodus 17 tells two stories: Moses bringing forth water from a rock and a battle against the Amalekites being won by him holding up his arms.

Those are weird stories.

But come to think of it, this whole book is full of weird stories.

So rather than reflect on (or humorously lampoon) Exodus 17, I’ll take some time to review how I approach this study with some big picture observations, interpretations, and then think about how to apply what I’m learning.

If you want a little refresher, check out the “How I Do It” page.

Observation: Nothing Happens “Normally”

Let’s recount some of the major plot points of the Exodus story shall we?

  • Moses is called to free God’s people by talking to a burning bush.
  • 10 increasingly intense plagues are unleashed upon the nation of Egypt. Including but not limited to: The Nile turning to blood, firey hail falling from the sky, touchable darkness, and the death of every firstborn.
  • The people are led from Egypt by a pillar of cloud and a pillar of fire.
  • The Red Sea is parted  and the people walk through on dry ground. Pharaoh’s army tries to get through and is drowned.
  • When the people are thirsty, water is provided by throwing a stick into a spring and hitting a rock.
  • When the people are hungry, food is provided by bread from heaven and quail. But only enough for one day at a time.
  • In their first battle, the Israelites prevail because Moses kept his hands in the air.

Each of these events feels random. I dare you to find anyone who could guess what would happen next. Even when faced with the exact same problem, God gives different solutions!

Interpretation: Israel is Not Going To be a “Normal” Nation.

These are the first stories the Israelite parents are going to tell their children. These are the first memories this infant nation will have. This is the beginning of their story as a liberated people.

What do you think God wants them to know?

Based on the story so far, I would say that God wants them to know . . .

  • He hears them and will deliver them from oppression
  • He will always provide a way to be rescued, even when the circumstance seems impossible
  • He will lead them
  • He will feed them
  • They are to live a “day to day” lifestyle. Accumulation of wealth and property is not necessary.
  • If they listen to him and do what he says, things will go well for them.
  • Oh, and He is way more powerful than that Pharaoh Chump.

That’s about it. Pretty simple. But also a crazy way to start a nation.

Application: ?

Now if we are good inductive Bible Study students, we know that we can’t just leave our study with observation and interpretation. We have to move into application.

So I will leave that up to you. Seeing what we see and trying to make as much sense of it as we can, how should we apply what we are learning?


One response

  1. By the way, I have been enjoying reading your blog!

    It seems a unifying factor with all of these not so normal events is that it is further evidence of God’s desire to be known as our provider, our deliverer. Every single one of these directly relates to how God wishes to be known and remembered as our God who heard our cry and delivered us from Egypt. It seems throughout this book God wants us to remember this, which as you continue on the story was good advice, because the Israeli people forget and once again become self sufficient.

    I know as I have read Exodus I just always think “How can you still be doubting God! He parted the red sea for you! All those plagues!! He directly and concretely interacted with you and freed you from slavery!! Don’t make that golden calf! If I was there, I wouldn’t lack faith.”

    My mindset is almost as if God interacted with me like that I would be so faithful. What I forget is that God DOES interact with me in this way. Daily he is providing and daily he is setting me free from the slavery of sin.

    Anyways application ideas: Spend time brainstorming all the ways God has been a provider, a father in our lives. Take time to remember and delight over this list. Spend time in worship, thanking God for the ways he miraculously interacts with our lives!

    Or, Think of the ways we desire control in our own lives, the ways we don’t let God provide but we want to be self sufficient (like when they tried to gather extra manna when they were promised they would get more the next day). Spend time in prayer that we would be able to give those to God and repent for our lack of trust. Also something about willingness to wait on God’s provision.

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