8—14 October 2007

Issue No. 38

Mickey Chiang: The Israelite Syndrome

The Parting of the Red Sea culminated a long series of miracles performed by God before the very eyes of the Israelites.  So we assume that, surely, all these miracles would have boosted sky-high the Israelites’ faith and confidence in God and His ability to protect and take good care of them.  But did it?


God led the Israelites through the Desert Of Shur (Exodus 15:22).  The Israelites did not find water there, until they came to Marah.  Marah meant “Bitter”.  The water there was indeed bitter and undrinkable. So the people grumbled against Moses, saying, “What are we to drink?” (Ex 15:24).  God showed Moses a tree which he cast into the water, and it miraculously became drinkable. Following that, God led the Israelites to Elim, a lovely oasis with twelve freshwater springs.


From Elim, the Israelites went into the Desert of Sinai. There, “the whole community grumbled against Moses and Aaron”, over the lack of meat.  Lack of meat?  Didn’t the Israelites leave Egypt with “large droves of livestock, both flocks and herds” (Ex 12:38)? So why the lack of meat? Was it because the Israelites were hoarding their cattle and sheep and refusing to slaughter them for food? Anyway, God heard their grumbling and sent flocks of quail and manna from heaven, meeting the Israelites’ craving for meat and their basic need for food, again miraculously (Ex 16:2-5).


Later, at Rephidim, the Israelites faced a shortage of water and quarreled with Moses.  “Give us water to drink!” they demanded.  Did they expect Moses to pull out his mobile phone and call in a thousand truckloads of mineral water from the Sinai Desert Oasis Water Company?  What was wrong with what the Israelites did?


Yes, they were speaking to Moses, instead of to God!  Only God could meet their needs.  Speaking to God is called “prayer”, and the Israelites were evidently not praying to the almighty God who had brought them out of slavery in Egypt and through the Red Sea.  Was it Moses or God who was leading them through the desert, by way of a cloud by day and a pillar of fire at night?  I have been through some desert areas in and around Israel, and there was hardly a cloud to be seen. A pillar of fire at night was also something obviously supernatural, and, like a cloud, could have been seen for miles around. God had chosen a cloud and a pillar of fire so that no one would be in any doubt about who was leading the Israelites.  And yet the Israelites were quarreling with Moses over the lack of water.


But why was God leading over two million Israelites through desert areas where there was obviously no food and water to sustain so many people and their “large droves of livestock”?  Was God ignorant?  Or was God deliberately putting the Israelites in desperate situations so that they would have to rely on Him and turn to Him in prayer?  Did God want His chosen people to learn to pray to Him?


So why did the Israelites not call out to God to meet their basic needs for food and water?  Did they not know that God was leading them and not Moses?  Did they not know that it was God, and not Moses, who had parted the Red Sea?  Did they not know who was feeding them miraculously each day, with quail and manna?  So why did the Israelites not pray to God? 


It is natural for us to shake our heads at how hard-hearted the Israelites were, how blind and stupid and stubborn.  And yet, as I look around in churches today, I sometimes wonder if we are really much better than the Israelites.  So many of us fail to see God around us every day.  We are blind to His daily miracles.  We have taken them for granted and no longer attribute them to Him.


We are so affluent that we take our next meal for granted, as a right, while half the world is starving or hungry.  We turn on the tap and waste large amounts of water, without a thought for half the world’s population who are struggling daily with water shortage, drought and polluted water resources.  We forget who sends the rain and fills the springs, and the reservoirs.  When no water comes out of our taps, who do we speak to first: God or the utility company?


So many of us choose to ignore God and rely on our own intelligence and abilities, our wealth and connections, and modern technology to see us through each day.  So many are stubbornly clinging to these instead of clinging to the God on whom we are totally dependent for everything, the God who loves us even more than we love ourselves.

Biblical GRADUATE school of theology

BGST This Week


                                       BGST Fundraising

                                 Dinner 2007

                                       A word from Lim Chin Keng (Chairman, Dinner                                        Organising Committee)



Praise God for the concerted efforts of Council Members who have worked hard to bring about an encouraging response to the Fundraising Dinner.


Please continue to pray for the Dinner Organising Committee that it will accomplish all the necessary tasks in making the event a success in terms, not only of raising the hoped-for funds, but also in promoting the work of BGST in the wider community and in making the Dinner an occasion for  good fellowship and spiritual nourishment for all who attend. Pray that Prof. James Houston will be kept in good health and his ministry here be greatly blessed.


Remember too to pray that this occasion will enable us to project BGST as a theological school of standing and value to the Christian community in Singapore. The DOC welcomes and is grateful for all efforts made by students, faculty and friends to promote this Fundraising effort.

Text Box: Weekly Highlights
Text Box: New course commencing
Promoting Seniors’ Development In Action Learning (ECF524, 3 credits), starting Oct 16 (Tue, new date), 7.15-10.15pm. Facilitators: Dr Chen Ai Yen / Dr Ng Peh Cheng  

Dr Augustine Pagolu will speak next Wednesday.

Library Announcement
The library is selling Ikebana calendars at $6.50 each to support a project to provide income for the poor. This is one of the many works of Care Channels. Each calendar is handmade with labor-intensive pressed flowers. Your purchase will help the needy make the journey from dependency to dignity. Please purchase your copy at the information counter now.

31 Tanjong Pagar Road, Singapore 088454   Tel: 62276815   Fax: 62276816   Email: bgst@pacific.net.sg


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