The children of Israel were absolutely helpless—fathers, mothers, princes, leaders—all with no place to turn. There were no pack camels loaded with supplies. No dried fruits, dried fish, bread, figs, dates, raisins or nuts. No doubt they had seen Pharaoh’s supply train swept away: huge canvases loaded with food, floating along on the Red Sea! Their logic must have been: “God knew the very day and hour we would leave Egypt. Moses talks with God, so why didn’t he tell us to bring a six-months supply of food? Even the gods of Egypt treat their soldiers better. Why were we told to borrow all this gold, silver and jewelry? We can’t eat this stuff; it's worthless out here!”
There was not a blade of grass in sight—no animals to hunt, no fruit trees, no foreigners to trade with. They could not have gone back to Egypt even if they had wanted to because the Red Sea was blocking their retreat! And if they could have gotten around the sea, the Egyptians would have blocked their return with every stick and stone in Egypt, having had their fill of plagues.
So now there was nothing but a howling, foreboding desert ahead. The children were crying and wives were wringing their hands. Every father and husband was helpless and humiliated. They all gathered around Moses and complained: “Ye have brought us forth into this wilderness, to kill this whole assembly with hunger” (Exodus 16:3).
This was a humiliation for Israel and it is a lesson for us today. “These things were our examples, to the intent we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted. . . . They are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come” (1 Corinthians 10:6, 11).
God brought Israel to a place of total humiliation.
The Israelites’ test was not about having courage to face powerful enemies, because God had already pledged to fight their battles for them. It was about the blessings for which they were unprepared: good houses, vats full of wine, rivers of milk, an abundance of honey, wheat and cattle—not to mention all kinds of spiritual blessings.
“He humbled thee, and suffered thee to hunger, and fed thee with manna . . . that he might make thee know that man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the Lord doth man live” (Deuteronomy 8:3).