Water from the Rock and Manna from Heaven Sunday School Lesson

This lesson about God providing water from the rock and Manna from Heaven takes a little bit of a different approach to telling the Bible story than you might typically expect. Fun is how I roll 🙂

First of all, let’s start this lesson off with a joke…because no one has ever met a group of kids who didn’t appreciate a joke or two!

Then help the kids think about what they would do if they truly had NO food or WATER and they were in the middle of the desert!

And now…the story!

Water from a rock introduction:

A four-year-old spilled his cola on the rug and wanted to clean up the mess himself. So his mother told him that the mop was just outside the back door. Quickly, he ran to the door, but realized that it had become dark outside. Suddenly scared, he told his mother what the problem was. Assuring him, she told him that Jesus is everywhere, even in dark places, and that he’ll always protect him. This put a smile on his face! So, he opened the door just enough to poke his head outside and called out, “Jesus, if you’re out there, could you pass me the mop?”

Alright, now on to our lesson.

Trust

How many of you have ever been swimming? Were you able to swim when you were a baby? No! Of course not. You had to have help from your dad. Babies aren’t born with the ability to swim!

Now what would happen if your dad wasn’t there to catch you the first time you tried to swim? Would you have been able to swim by yourself? Definitely not.

Babies depend on their dad or mom to catch them because they can’t swim yet!!

If the dad doesn’t catch the baby, it’s bad news for the baby. You could say the baby is depending on, or TRUSTING, his dad to catch him.

Trusting God

Today, we are going to talk about trusting God. And when we talk about the word ‘trust’ you can remember this picture. Because this is what trusting means: It’s depending on someone or something else for help.

The past few weeks we’ve been talking about the children of Israel. They were left Egypt after being slaves for 430 years, were chased by Pharaoh to the Red Sea. God parted the waters of the Red Sea so they could walk through, and then closed the Red Sea back up when Pharaoh and his army tried to cross.

Now the children of Israel are free. For the first time that any of them can remember in their whole life they are no longer slaves, they are free people.

So God looks out for them in a number of ways. After all, they are walking around in the desert so some directions would be nice.

God doesn’t give them a map

But God doesn’t give them a map, He gives them something even cooler.

God put a cloud in the sky specifically for them to follow.

As God moved the cloud, the children of Israel would follow it wherever it went. This was the way God gave them direction. Wherever God moved the cloud, the children of Israel followed. At night, when you could no longer see the cloud, it turned into a huge fireball. This way even at night the children of Israel knew exactly where to go.

As we mentioned a minute ago, the children of Israel are in the desert. Is it easy to survive in the desert? Not really. Do you see a McDonald’s anywhere in this picture? Do you see a place to get a drink? Nope. The desert isn’t friendly to people. Food and water are really hard to come by in the desert. In fact, just surviving, just staying alive, is difficult in the desert.

3 Days Without Water

Today, I brought along a few facts about surviving, and what it takes to stay alive when the conditions are difficult.

I’d like to share with you the ‘Survival Rule of 3’s’

Did you know you can go about 3 minutes without air? If you don’t get air in about 3 minutes you’ll die! Most people can survive about 3 hours in extreme elements. So if it’s super super hot or super super cold, you can make it about 3 hours without help. Believe it or not, you can survive about 3 weeks without food. And lastly, you can go about 3 days without water.

If you had nothing to drink, at all, you could go about 3 days.

So water is kind of important huh?

With that in mind, let’s look at what Moses says happened, in Exodus chapter 15

So Moses brought Israel from the Red sea, and they went out into the wilderness of Shur; and they went three days in the wilderness, and found no water.

 

Exodus 15:22

  The children of Israel cross the Red Sea, and walk for a few days, then they start to have trouble.

It’s been 3 days since they have found water. From what we just saw about the rules of survival that’s a problem. You can’t go much more than 3 days without water.

So some of Moses’ people, the children of Israel, are worried because if they don’t get water soon they are going to die. Not only that, but who is leading them around the desert? God is, with the cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night.

So it seems like God isn’t being very trustworthy. God knows we can’t live without water, but it’s been 3 days and these people haven’t found any water. Then they see something in the distance! As they walk up to it, they realize it’s water! They are probably really excited! Some of these people need water quickly or else they are going to die. And they have have finally found what they are looking for!

So they run up to the water, kneel down, take some water in their hands and put it to their mouths…. And it’s BITTER! It’s sour. It tastes really really bad. It’s so bad that, as thirsty as they are, they can’t stand to drink it. This kinda seems like a cruel joke, huh? These people haven’t had water in 3 days, they won’t survive much longer without water, and when God, with the cloud, directs them to some water, it’s bitter and they are unable to drink it.

Is God really looking out for them? Can they TRUST God?

So Moses asks God what to do. And God gives him some instructions to follow that might have seemed a little strange. God tells Moses to go take a log that’s over by the water and throw it in.

Now if you or I threw a log into the water, would it make the water taste better? Nope!

It would only make the water taste like tree bark!

It would only make the water taste like tree bark! But Moses trusts God and he does what God told him to do. So he takes the log and throws it into the water.

And the water instantly turns sweet! Immediately the water goes from undrinkable, to being really really good water! God has just showed Moses and all the children of Israel that He can be trusted. Even when it seemed like all hope was lost,

God was still in control. So the people drink water at Marah and continue on with their journey.

Manna from Heaven

About a month goes by and we hear the people start complaining again. But this time it isn’t because they are thirsty. This time they are upset because there  is no food. In fact, they ask Moses what he is up to:

The Israelites said to them, “If only we had died by the Lord’s hand in Egypt! There we sat around pots of meat and ate all the food we wanted, but you have brought us out into this desert to starve this entire assembly to death.”

 

Exodus 16:3

    They ask Moses: “did you bring us out here to this desert so we could starve to death?” They want to know if Moses’ ‘big plan’ was to walk around the desert and wait to die of hunger. The children of Israel think back to their time in Egypt where at least they had food to eat! So Moses talks to God about this and God says something that sounds a little crazy to us:

Then the Lord said to Moses, “I will rain down bread from heaven for you…”
Exodus 16:4

Did you hear that? God says that bread is going to fall from the sky.

When I first heard this I thought…”Oh, like the Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs movie!” Right? I mean, this is kinda what I picture when I hear that food, in this case bread, is going to fall from the sky. I imagine looking up and being like, “Toast…Incoming!”

If we heard that bread was going to fall from heaven today, this is probably what we would expect. But in this case, it didn’t look anything like this. God did rain down bread from heaven, but instead of being like the movie, it looked like this:

Here’s how Moses described the bread that fell from heaven:

The people of Israel called the bread manna.It was white like coriander seed and tasted like wafers made with honey.
Exodus 16:31

  The bread looked like seeds.

Now you may be thinking to yourself, ‘this doesn’t really look like bread, and God said he was going to send bread from Heaven.’ God told Moses to tell all the people to take the coriander seed, or Manna as they called it, and grind it up (so it looked like flour) and bake it into bread. God sent the exact ingredient they needed to make bread in the wilderness.

Not only that, but every morning when the food came, it fell on top of the dew. You know in the morning when you go outside and the grass is a little wet, even though it hasn’t rained? That’s dew.

God sent this food and put it on top of the dew. It’s like he was protecting the food from getting all dusty and dirty on the desert floor.

Now, if we’re honest… bread is good when we’re starved, but plain bread doesn’t sound that delicious. It sounds kinda plain and boring. I mean, who wants to eat plain bread every day of their life? Not me. But this wasn’t just any bread. Moses tells us it tasted like honey, and like pastries! That sounds a little better, huh?

But there’s one more thing about this bread we need to understand. Look at Psalm 78:25

Human beings ate the bread of angels;
he sent them all the food they could eat.
Psalm 78:25

  This wasn’t just any old bread, this was the bread that angels eat!

The idea here is this is bread fit for angels, for kings, and for people in high places. This wasn’t plain bread that we all might think of. This is the bread the angels eat! How cool is that?! God sure was looking out for His people.

Water from a Rock

Quickly, let’s look at one more way God took care of Moses and the children of Israel in the desert. This is one more way God was showing them that He can be trusted. Moses tells us in the beginning of Chapter 17 that they ran into a familiar problem. They were thirsty.

They camped at Rephidim, but there was no water for the people to drink.
Exodus 17:1b
 

But this problem is a little different than last time. This time, they have no water. Last time they had water, it was just bitter. This time, there is no water at all. So Moses tells us that they people started to complain. But this isn’t just complaining like: “Moses, we wish we could have some water.”

This is like a mob, demanding water. The idea is the people putting Moses on trial. “Moses, either you are going to deliver water, or else you are out. Moses, it’s time to either give us water or we are done with you. Are you our leader or not?”

When the Bible says complain here, it is a very serious complaining. These people are very upset and they want answers. In particular, they want water. So Moses talks with God. And God tells him something amazing.

I am going to stand on a rock and I want you hit it with your rod.”

I am going to stand on a rock and I want you hit it with your rod.”

Moses writes down what God tells him to do:

I will stand there before you by the rock at Horeb. Strike the rock, and water will come out of it for the people to drink.”
Exodus 17:6
 

God is going to stand on a rock. Moses is supposed to go over to that rock, lift his rod into the air and hit the rock. When he does, this water will come out. And sure enough, that’s exactly what happened. Water for more than 2 million people, the children of Israel, came out of that rock. Crazy, huh?

Application

So we’ve seen how God used a log to turn bitter water into sweet. We’ve seen God rain down bread, manna, from Heaven. We just learned about God giving the Israelites water from a rock. All 3 of these things aren’t ‘normal’.

We don’t usually get water from a rock; we get it from rivers, and lakes, and from rain. We don’t usually get our bread from the sky; we get bread from wheat that grows out of the ground.

So why did God pick these crazy ways to give water and bread to the children of Israel? Why didn’t God just let some wheat grow up from the ground? Why didn’t God just let rain come out of the sky and let the people get water that way?

For one reason… Because over and over again God wanted to prove to the children of Israel that it was HIM that was providing for them. God wanted to leave no doubt that the manna and the water were coming from the all-mighty all-powerful God.

God wanted us to know, without a doubt, that He was taking care of His people. God wanted Israel to know it was Him and to trust Him. God wanted Israel’s trust. And he wants yours.

Just like the children of Israel needed to rely on God for food and water, God wants us to trust Him, completely. Whether it’s for food and water, or for something far less important, God wants us to put all our trust in Him. Just like the baby from the beginning of our lesson that trusts His dad to catch Him. God wants us to “jump” into His arms.

He promises to always catch us. We can trust Him.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him,
and he will make your paths straight.
Proverbs 3:5-6
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