The Spring that Satisfies
August 31, 2021
by Dr. J. Vernon McGee
What the children of Israel experienced while going through the wilderness corresponds to our Christian experience; you can translate what happened to them directly over to the life of any believer today. We can expect to encounter the same problems and expect the same solutions to work for us. Every believer will experience their own particular version of what happened to the Israelites in the wilderness.
I do not believe any child of God can escape going through these experiences—they’re normal and natural to the Christian life. Therefore it’s profitable for you and me to follow the children of Israel for just a little way into the wilderness so we can learn something valuable.
When the children of Israel crossed the Red Sea, they crossed as a redeemed people. I emphasize that because we need to understand God had redeemed them by blood and by power out of the land of Egypt. And when they crossed over the Red Sea and came safely to the other side, they sang the song of Moses. Up to that point they murmured and complained—they actually wanted to go back to slavery, back to the brickyards of Egypt. But then God marvelously and miraculously opened the Red Sea—due to the faith of Moses—and they crossed over. Then these people believed, entered the wilderness by faith, and could sing the song of Moses. They were a saved people singing “God is my salvation,” if you please.
You in Your mercy have led forth the people whom You have redeemed; You have guided them in Your strength to Your holy habitation. -Exodus 15:13
They have crossed the Red Sea and are singing, calling themselves a redeemed people.
It’s interesting, as you go through the Word of God you find that only redeemed people sing—I mean sing praise to God with joy and sing from the heart. Anybody can sing the blues, but to sing from the heart with joy you must be a redeemed person. So they began their march through the wilderness with a song and great joy.
But then they were confronted with their first wilderness experience. These redeemed people start out through the wilderness according to God’s instruction and after three days they still haven’t found any water. It’s bad. I’m sure most of the families started out with a little jug or canteen filled with water, but that’s all gone now. They’re parched and desperate. If God didn’t provide for them, they would perish.
My beloved, their experience is contrary to the accepted notion people have today of how life should be for the child of God: Becoming a Christian solves all your problems, resolves all your difficulties, and everything after is easy sailing.
But the moment the children of Israel were redeemed and got on the other side of the Red Sea, they faced bigger problems than they ever had in the land of Egypt. There is a certain freedom in slavery, and there is a certain slavery in freedom. After all, in Egypt they didn’t worry about where they lived, what they ate, or what they would drink because the man who owned them took care of that. Water and grain were in abundance.
But for the people of Israel out there on that torrid desert, the cisterns of Egypt were far behind them, and suddenly their source of supply is cut off. They find themselves under different circumstances. It’s a long way from one oasis to another. It will take them a little while to find the fountain of living waters.
The interesting thing is, they are having a legitimate experience. Certainly there is nothing wrong with thirsting. And they’re not out in that wilderness because of sin in their lives. They are very much in the will of God—and yet they went three days thirsty. You explain that.
May I say to you, the Bible is a mirror for every child of God to look into. Paul said, “All these things happened to them as examples for us.” Moses could have recorded a thousand other experiences. My, we ought to learn the lessons, because this thirsting is the experience of every born-again child of God.
If you are a child of God, am I not now describing your experience? After you came to Christ, received Him as Savior, and things became different—didn’t you find that the cisterns of Egypt failed to satisfy you? Remember how, right after you were saved, you tried to continue in the same lifestyle and it didn’t satisfy? Wasn’t that your experience?
Then there was that period of soul-thirst, a yearning and a passion for the things of God. At first you had trouble finding satisfaction—perhaps still you have not found it. Sooner or later, though, if you are a child of God you are going to find the fountain.
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- Agree or disagree: “Anybody can sing the blues, but to sing with joy from your heart you must be redeemed.” -Dr. J. Vernon McGee
- Do you know Jesus as your Savior? If yes, remember for a moment what life was like before you trusted Him. Dr. McGee said, “Remember how, right after you were saved, you tried to continue in the same lifestyle and it didn’t work, it didn’t satisfy?” Can you relate to this statement? What’s your story?
- Imagine yourself in a conversation with someone who has never known the satisfaction of following Jesus. How would you describe it to them?