Migration and Revelation of the Law

Discovery for Teachers

Migration and Revelation of the Law


Exodus 15:22 through 24:11

“Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for the earth is mine.” (Exodus 19:5)


The Children of Israel had just crossed the Red Sea. After experiencing the miracle of the bitter water made sweet, they left the oasis of Elim and were ready to travel through the Wilderness of Sin — a narrow, rocky area that ran parallel to the mountain range which included Mount Sinai. Once again the people were hungry and quick to complain. To meet their need for nourishment, God sent manna — small pearl-like wafers which tasted like honey. Later, in Rephidim, when the Israelites complained of thirst, God gave water from a rock.

The Amalekites, who were descendants of Esau, confronted Israel at this time. These people were nomads who lived in the wilderness around the Dead Sea and raided and killed for both sport and profit. Joshua led Israel to battle against them, while Aaron and Hur stood on a hill with Moses to hold up his hands. As Moses’ hands remained lifted up, God gave the victory to Israel.

Following the battle, Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, came to visit. After observing Moses working long hours to mediate disputes among the people, Jethro suggested Moses delegate to qualified men the job of judging less important matters. This would free Moses to make decisions regarding critical issues and give others the responsibility to help shoulder the burden of overseeing the people. Moses was quick to take Jethro’s suggestion.

After leaving Rephidim, the Children of Israel approached the desert and mountain of Sinai which is found in the south central Sinai Peninsula. It was there God met with Moses and gave His Law, a set of commands and guidelines including the Ten Commandments, which was designed to lead Israel to a life of practical holiness.


  1. Soon after the Israelites crossed the Red Sea, they came to Marah where the water was bitter (Exodus 15:22-26). What did Moses cast into the water to sweeten it? What lessons can we learn from this?

    Moses cast a tree into the water at the Lord’s command and the waters were made sweet.

    Your students may have various thoughts in response to the second question. One lesson is that obedience brings blessing. This concept is reinforced by verse 26. We need to obey even when we do not understand why God has given the instructions He has. Moses probably did not know why God told him to cast a tree into the waters, but his obedience brought the desired result.

    In the original language the word mar means “bitter.” All of us have bitter experiences in life. This account reminds us that God is aware of our problems and will help us if we obey Him.

    Also, we can see that the Children of Israel murmured but Moses cried out to God. We will be benefited if we pray and do not complain.

  2. Why did God allow the Children of Israel to suffer hunger and thirst in the wilderness? Exodus 15:24-25

    God allowed the Israelites to suffer hunger and thirst to prove them. They should have known He would not abandon them. Amplify this question by discussing what types of trials God might allow us to go through for the same reason.
  3. When the Israelites ran out of food and complained again, God promised to send them “bread from heaven” (Exodus 16:4). What were some of the characteristics of manna (Exodus 16:14-28)? What was God’s purpose in providing it, beyond it being a source of nourishment?

    The characteristics of manna include:

    • It came in the morning, was visible when the dew evaporated, and melted in the sun.

    • It was white and like a coriander (cilantro) seed.

    • It tasted like wafers made with honey.

    • It could be cooked.

    • The people were to gather a specified amount for each person.

    • They were to gather only enough for one day.

    • If they tried to keep it until the next day, it became wormy and stank.

    • The day before the Sabbath, they were to gather twice as much, and it did not spoil.

    • No manna appeared on the ground on the Sabbath day.

    • Manna nourished the Children of Israel (with all the necessary vitamins and minerals) during the forty years they were in the wilderness.

    In response to the second question, your group should conclude that while God was showing His care and concern for His people, verse 4 brings out that He also wanted to “prove them, whether they will walk in my law, or no.” This is another illustration of the importance of obedience.

  4. As Joshua led Israel in battle against Amalek, Aaron and Hur lifted up Moses’ arms so that the Children of Israel would prevail (Exodus17:10-12). What valuable spiritual lesson does this teach us?

    Aaron and Hur shared in the victory for Israel by lifting up Moses’ arms: this teaches us the value of supporting each other in the service of the Lord. You may wish to point out that Scripture gives no indicator that Aaron and Hur were asked to help. Seemingly, they simply saw the need and stepped in to offer support. And God blessed by giving Israel the victory.

    You could ask your class to suggest ways that we might help our spiritual leaders today. Class responses should include praying for them, being faithful in our responsibilities, not having a critical attitude, doing our best to maintain unity in the body of believers, etc.

  5. What did Jethro recommend to Moses, and why was his suggestion valuable? Exodus 18:13-26

    Jethro recommended that Moses adopt an organized system of leadership that would relieve Moses of the responsibility of resolving minor problems. This suggestion was valuable because such a system would allow Moses to focus his energy on handling the more difficult matters.

    As a follow-up, ask your class what Moses’ response indicates about his character. They should identify the fact that Moses was meek and humble enough to take Jethro’s suggestion. There is no hint that he wanted to hold onto all the power. The lesson to us is that no matter what our role is in the service of the Lord, we should always be open to counsel and suggestions. A supporting Scripture would be Numbers 12:3.

  6. In Exodus 19:5-6, how did God promise to regard the Israelites if they obeyed Him? What was His purpose in this?

    God promised that if the Israelites obeyed, He would make them a special treasure unto Himself. His purpose was to make Israel a channel of blessing to influence the world. He wanted them to be an example to other nations of how to worship Him and represent the benefits of obeying Him. Many heathen nations were aware of how God had blessed Israel and feared because of Israel’s God. However, Israel’s influence and ability to do this was dependent upon their obedience.

    God wants Christians to be His representatives to the world by showing people how to serve Him. (You could refer to 1 Peter 2:9 to establish this point.) However, obedience is necessary for us to be effective in our calling, just as obedience was vital for the Children of Israel. If Israel had followed God in continued obedience, they would have been God’s main evangelical tool in this world.

  7. Exodus 20:3-6 instructed Israel to serve only the one true God in Heaven rather than idols. How does this apply to us today?

    The Children of Israel had left Egypt, a culture worshiping many idols and false gods. It was important for them to realize that God is not made by the work of men’s hands. We too need to worship God from the heart and put nothing in this life ahead of our commitment to Him. Discuss some of the things that could come between God and us.
  8. The first four of the Ten Commandments have to do with love and service to God. What do the last six commandments pertain to? Exodus 20:12-17

    The last six commandments deal with how we treat others. These laws were in effect before God had Moses deliver them to the Children of Israel, and they still stand today.

    You may wish to bring out that Jesus condensed the Ten Commandments into two (Matthew 22:37-40). We are to love God with all our heart, soul, and mind — a directive which parallels the first four commandments. We are also to love our neighbors as ourselves, which parallels the last six commandments and encompasses the rest of the Law given to Moses. Wrap up your class time by discussing practical ways we can implement Jesus’ two commandments in our communities.


The Children of Israel began their sojourn in the wilderness. God worked many miracles for them along the way and promised that they would be a special treasure to Him as they honored Him. Let us remember that God will be with us on our journey to Heaven. He will consider us a special treasure as we honor and obey Him.