Greetings once again. This is Kent Ladendorf with you to take a look at Exodus chapter 17.
To quickly review what has happened in the lives of the Israelites in a relatively short amount of time, God inflicted multiple plagues on the Egyptians but protected the Israelites, His chosen people, from most of those curses. He freed them from slavery, protected them from the wrath of Pharoah and his pursuing army, parted the Red Sea to allow them to cross on dry ground, then made sure they had plenty to eat by sending manna and quail daily.
Now, we read in chapter 17: All the congregation of the people of Israel moved on from the wilderness of Sin by stages, according to the commandment of the Lord, and camped at Rephidim, but there was no water for the people to drink. 2 Therefore the people quarreled with Moses and said, “Give us water to drink.” And Moses said to them, “Why do you quarrel with me? Why do you test the Lord?” 3 But the people thirsted there for water, and the people grumbled against Moses and said, “Why did you bring us up out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and our livestock with thirst?” 4 So Moses cried to the Lord, “What shall I do with this people? They are almost ready to stone me.” 5 And the Lord said to Moses, “Pass on before the people, taking with you some of the elders of Israel, and take in your hand the staff with which you struck the Nile, and go. 6 Behold, I will stand before you there on the rock at Horeb, and you shall strike the rock, and water shall come out of it, and the people will drink.” And Moses did so, in the sight of the elders of Israel. 7 And he called the name of the place Massah[a] and Meribah,[b] because of the quarreling of the people of Israel, and because they tested the Lord by saying, “Is the Lord among us or not?”
This is just a side note, but it is incredible to think about what that flow of water from the rock must have been. There were thousands of people who needed water and all of their livestock, too. This was no little fountain or stream. It must have been a huge gush of water pouring out before them. From a rock. In the desert. Talk about a God who supplies the needs of His people.
Doesn’t it seem crazy that after all God had done for them recently they still grumbled, complained, and tested the Lord? They even asked, “Is the Lord with us or not?” I remember reading the old testament accounts of the history of Israel, their cycles of sin and deliverance, of rebellion and redemption and getting pretty irritated at their seemingly lack of faith in the God who had done so much for them. Then it occurred to me, am I so different than the nation of Israel? Don’t I often act the same way? All I really need to do is take just a few moments to think back on my own history to see the great ways the Lord has blessed me, protected me, loved me, forgiven me, and, ultimately, redeemed me.
Right now it seems like we can grumble and complain about a lot. I’m sure we can all come up with a long list pretty quickly. On the other hand, what happens when we take some time to look back on all the Lord has done for us? It makes it very hard for me to complain when I do that. Remember, God didn’t just tell Moses to strike the rock, He told him He would stand before them on the rock. The answer really is clear. God was among them then and He is with us today.
Let’s pray. Heavenly Father, you have promised us that you will never leave or forsake us. Thank you that we can trust you to keep your promises. Please forgive us for complaining when our circumstances are difficult instead of trusting you to take care of us. Help us to look past our trials to see you standing with us, watching over us, supplying our needs. Remind us often of the lessons we can learn from the wonderings of your people in the desert. Renew our hearts and our minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.