WILDERNESS: Deliverance + Discipleship = Transformation


Exodus 15:22-25 (NIV)

21 Each morning everyone gathered as much as they needed, and when the sun grew hot, it melted away. 22 On the sixth day, they gathered twice as much’two omers for each person—and the leaders of the community came and reported this to Moses. 23 He said to them, “This is what the Lord commanded: ‘Tomorrow is to be a day of sabbath rest, a holy sabbath to the Lord. So bake what you want to bake and boil what you want to boil. Save whatever is left and keep it until morning.’”

24 So they saved it until morning, as Moses commanded, and it did not stink or get maggots in it. 25 “Eat it today,” Moses said, “because today is a sabbath to the Lord. You will not find any of it on the ground today. 26 Six days you are to gather it, but on the seventh day, the Sabbath, there will not be any.”

27 Nevertheless, some of the people went out on the seventh day to gather it, but they found none. 28 Then the Lord said to Moses, “How long will you refuse to keep my commands and my instructions? 29 Bear in mind that the Lord has given you the Sabbath; that is why on the sixth day he gives you bread for two days. Everyone is to stay where they are on the seventh day; no one is to go out.” 30 So the people rested on the seventh day.


There is a transformative movement afoot here in the wilderness. It takes getting a little altitude over it to see, but it is taking shape.

The Israelites had lived the last long stretch of their history as slaves under the cruel oppression of Pharaoh. They had no control over their lives. They lived under the totalizing control of Pharaoh. Every day was the same. They probably had more in common with livestock than with the Egyptians around them. Their lives were not ordered, they were, rather, controlled.

All of a sudden, they were delivered from Egypt and the land of slavery; no longer slaves but free people. So how does a person live free when all they have ever known is slavery? Like accident or stroke victims who must relearn how to walk and eat and many other basic life functions, slaves must relearn how to live as free people. They must be discipled into a new way of life. The wilderness season is all about discipleship.

Notice the gracious order emerging. In the midst of what could otherwise be a chaotic experience in the wilderness, God establishes structure, rhythm and direction. Cloud by day and fire by night. Quail in the evening and manna in the morning. Take only what is needed; no hoarding. Today we see a new feature of this gracious order: Sabbath. Six days of gathering, one day of rest. Slaves don’t get Sabbath. Free people do.

If quail in the evening and manna every morning were not miraculous enough, notice the weekly miracle co-occurring with Sabbath. The same manna, which if kept overnight would turn into maggots, miraculously maintains freshness one night every week prior to the Sabbath. Further, manna did not appear on the Sabbath Day. This is exquisite, care-filled provision. This is our God.

The order comes as a consequence of disciplined obedience. “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” (Matthew 6:33)

You are already seeing the analogy and application. We are all born into slavery; the slavery of sin and death. Jesus will deliver anyone who will follow him out of this cruel slavery and into a life of freedom and promise. There is deliverance and then there is discipleship. Deliverance must be followed by discipleship. We witness the order of the Kingdom as we are discipled into the lifestyle of the King.

The transformative movement of salvation then and now is as follows: Egypt. Red Sea. Wilderness. Promised Land.

Egypt + Red Sea = Deliverance.

Wilderness + Promised Land = Discipleship

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Father, reveal to me the deeper wisdom of your will and ways in the wilderness. Your provision is both exquisite and extravagant. Thank you for the complexity of your care of us. Grant us the grace to follow your gracious commands. You have delivered us from sin. Disciple us now into righteousness. It is for your glory and our good. O, God, who by the light of the Holy Spirit, did instruct the hearts of the faithful, grant that by the same Holy Spirit we may be truly wise and ever enjoy his consolations, through Christ Our Lord, Amen.


What is the story of deliverance and discipleship in your life?

For the Awakening,
J.D. Walt