Exodus 16:1-3 tells us that on the way to Canaan, the Israelites were in the wilderness, and they had had a few very bitter experiences along the way. Periods of hunger and thirst had frightened them. They had traveled only a few days and were but a few miles from Sinai when they became discouraged. They began to reminisce about their life in Egypt. Even though God had freed them from bondage and created a path for them through the Red Sea, the Israelites wanted to go back to making bricks from mud, to become slaves again. They wanted to sell their futures for a bite to eat. 

Seeing that freedom was costly, they were afraid to pay the price. They had their eyes on Canaan, but their minds were in Egypt. They talked of freedom but thought of slavery. They watched as God led them with a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night, but they missed the familiar, the known. To reach Egypt, they would have to trek across the burning desert sands, back across the sea, to where slime and slavery held sway. But to reach Canaan, they would travel over the hills, walking among the cedars and the whispering pines. Canaan or Egypt? To reach one, you had to turn your back on the other.

Many times we act like the children of Israel. We would rather return to the bondage of the enemy than fight for victory. Sometimes we can’t reach Canaan because we’re too busy thinking about Egypt. Yes, our eyes are on Canaan, but our minds are in Egypt.

How can we focus our minds and eyes on the “Canaan experience” of our lives? How can we reach the “promised land” of our lives without being diverted by the enemy? Exodus 16:1-3 teaches three lessons.


As soon as they hit the highway, the Israelites began to murmur and complain. They missed their old lives. Isn’t it strange how we often live in the past? We concentrate on how things used to be, what we used to have. The Lord is constantly proving Himself to us, protecting us from dangers seen and unseen. Yet every time He tries to take us to the next level, we stand looking over our shoulder, contemplating the past!

The Israelites were willing to give up a land flowing with milk and honey if they could only return to their former lives. Likewise, we may get so caught up in our yesterdays that we can never reach our tomorrows.

The Word of God says that we must be transformed by the renewing of our minds (Rom. 12:2). Only our renewed thinking can allow us the mindset of success that God called us to have. Although the Israelites had changed their location physically, they needed a mental relocation to grasp what God had in store for them.


God doesn’t haphazardly appoint leaders without considering what His people need; He knows who and what is best for us (Jer. 3:15). Remember, Moses didn’t volunteer for his job; he was appointed, chosen, and called. And whom God calls, He also qualifies.

Moses couldn’t even speak clearly, but God chose him to lead the Israelites out of Egypt. Moses wasn’t a geography major or an excursionist, but God chose him to lead His people. Often we want to pick our leaders based on their stature or what qualities we see in them. But God looks at the heart.

After Israel rejected Saul, the Lord sent Samuel to anoint a king of Israel. Samuel looked at all of Jesse’s sons. But it wasn’t until he saw David that the Lord told him who was to be anointed king. God looks at what’s on the inside. 

When God chooses a leader for His people, we must trust Him enough to follow the one He has appointed over us. God placed this person in that position, and He doesn’t make mistakes.

If we are to continue on our journey to Canaan, we’ve got to stop thinking about Egypt, take God at His word, and have faith in those whom He has appointed over us.


To move and operate in the favor of the Lord means three things: (1) to have the accessibility of His presence; (2) to have the advantage of His power; and (3) to have the availability of His promise.

The accessibility of His presence means having access to the Father at all times. We have access to His presence 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, through His Son, Jesus Christ (John 14:6). Jesus is the avenue by which we can enter into the presence of the Lord. That’s why everything we do should be done in Jesus’ name (Acts 4:12).

When we find ourselves in the presence of the Lord, we’ll discover that things begin to move and operate according to God’s plan. Situations work themselves out. Circumstances begin to change. Dark nights turn into bright, sunshiny days. In His Presence, we’ll find sweet relief.

Once we have the accessibility of God’s presence, we’ll be able to grasp the advantage of His power. Although it may seem that the enemy has the upper hand, we actually have the advantage over him. Because God is our Father and we are His children, we have the power to move in His authority. We have the power to cast out demons. We have the power to lay hands on the sick and heal them. We have the power to tell the enemy to take his hands off of our families, our finances, or anything else that belongs to us. That’s the advantage of God’s power.

And because we have the accessibility of His presence and the advantage of His power, we will be able to receive the availability of His promise. Just as He promised the Israelites a “land flowing with milk and honey,” He also promises us eternal life, a life more abundant, a life without sorrow and pain.

General Conference Ministerial Association

"Let us allow Christ to anoint our eyes with the heavenly eyesalve that we may see. We do not want to be blind; we want to see everything distinctly. We do not want to be marching one day toward Canaan, and the next day back to Egypt, and the next day toward Canaan, and then back to Egypt again. Day by day we are to march steadily forward."

Ellen G. White - Mind, Character, and Personality, Vol. 2, page 727