Exodus 17:1-7 | "1 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 and Meribah, because of the quarreling of the people of Israel, and because they tested the Lord by saying, “Is the Lord among us or not?”
DREW: Today we are going to consider Exodus, chapter 17, verses 1 through 7, and I want us to see how Jesus ultimately is the rock that is referred to in this passage. Let me pray for our time and then we’ll read Exodus 17:1-7.
Heavenly Father, we pray that you would speak to us through your Word and as we engage with you and one another we ask that you would illumine our minds, increase our faith, and transform the way we think and live. In Christ name. Amen.
All right. Exodus 17:1-7, “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. 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?” 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?” So Moses cried to the Lord, “What shall I do with this people? They are almost ready to stone me.” 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. 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. And he called the name of the place Massah and Meribah, because of the quarreling of the people of Israel, and because they tested the Lord by saying, “Is the Lord among us or not?”
I like to ask a question to myself and I could even ask you -- it’s not just rhetorical -- when we have intense physical or material needs, do those intense needs drive us to the Lord or do they drive us away from the Lord? Here, they drove the Israelites away from the Lord. They were so concerned with their thirst. I want you to listen to this, “Give us water to drink.” And Moses said to them, “Why do you quarrel with me? Why do you test the Lord?” But the people thirsted there for water and they grumbled. That’s all they cared about. They only cared about their thirst, which is a major need. They were in the middle of a wilderness. It’s a big need, but what happened? Moses said, “You’re quarreling with me, you’re quarreling with the Lord.” They didn’t care. They wanted their need met above all else. That was the most important thing to them. What’s interesting here is there’s a pattern and that pattern is we have to be aware, be aware of the pattern present in Israel’s life so that we do not repeat it.
Now, in chapter 16, they were hungry and God said, “I’m going to send manna.” They sent manna down, the Lord sent manna down. The people had complained. They ate, the Lord provided for their need, He proved that He was faithful in the midst of a very challenging situation, but they proceeded to quickly rebel against Him by quarreling with Moses here.
Think of that pattern. The pattern is there’s a need, great need, God provided for that need, and then they proceeded to rebel against Him when another need arose. That’s usually how the Lord works. He creates a need in the lives of His people, a great need, and what are we going to do with that?
Listen to Deuteronomy, chapter 8 in verse 2, the Lord to the Israelites: “And you shall remember the whole way that the Lord your God has led you these forty years in the wilderness, that He might humble you, testing you to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not.” The Lord was bringing tests to the Israelites just to see what was in their heart. There was a need for food, manna, chapter 16. How were they going to handle this? It was a test to their heart. They complained, they grumbled. The Lord provided manna. Here the need is for water. Well, wouldn’t you think they would harken back to -- now, wait a minute, the last time we had a need, which was food, the Lord provided, but they didn’t. They forgot quickly. They didn’t remember what the Lord had done, so it was a test that they failed. The need arose, the Lord provided for it. Now, there’s another need, He provides again. What do they do? They’re still complaining.
I want to ask you a question. How do we respond to physical needs in our lives? Or think of a time in your life, maybe when you were crunched financially and in any other way, what was your response? Was it God doesn’t love me, He doesn’t care for me? Was it, okay, this is really painful? The Bible never encourages us to deny the difficulties that we’re facing. Never. Never. Look at Jesus, look at the Apostle Paul in Second Corinthians. He lists his trials and tribulations, but it’s how we handle those needs. So can you think of a time in your life when you were tested? It may have been emotionally, physically, materially, and how was the response. And once that pattern was established of an intense need God providing for that need, what happened the next time? If you’re thinking about your faith, I have faced this before, and at times if I’m doing well I say, this looks familiar and I think I need to trust in the Lord for this. So what do you think about that?
DON: Okay. So in my lifetime I’ve had several of those types of experiences. The one that comes to mind right away was when I hurt my hand and I use my hands every day to do the work that I do, so without it it made work impossible for several weeks. Through all that I remember, you know, crying out to the Lord for Him to heal my hand and I wasn’t just asking for Him to, you know, let the scars go away and, you know, stop the bleeding and all that; I wanted it to be back the way it was originally. I didn’t get that, but I got more than that. But what I see out of that, for me anyway, was knowing that every time the need arose I could go to the Lord. I don’t know in recent years that when I’ve gone to Him I’ve cried out in anger, because there’s a time when I did cry out in anger. So the original response I guess I would say in my life was to, yeah, be angry at God that this happened and why aren’t you taking care of it, but I guess as I grew closer to the Lord I began to understand that, hey, He saw me through every step of the way. Don’t doubt, just ask Him, and work with Him. So that --
DREW: That’s helpful.
DON: -- that, I mean --
DREW: Yeah, very helpful. Does anyone else have a comment? Anyone else want to contribute? Lollis? Very good.
LOLLIS: I can think of -- I’m not as faithful as you are, obviously, because I can think of obvious times where there were times in my life where I very much did lean on God. And I can think of going through a divorce and never wavering of my faith that somehow through all this craziness that the Lord’s hand is in it and He showed it -- showed me His hand in how some things went. There were other times in my life -- my father died when I was in my twenties and that was a time where I kind of rebelled and ran away from God and so I eventually came back, but I can look at, you know, I’ve been good and I’ve been bad, so I guess I see both sides of it --
LOLLIS: -- and hopefully as I get older I’m more obedient in how I respond to struggles.
DREW: Good. Thanks. Anyone else? Anyone else? Oh, Camille.
CAMILLE: Well, I was in a similar situation, because my father died when I was thirteen, but I had been in Catholic school and I had studied all the saints and I was just -- I loved the Lord and I was so mad at Him when my dad died. I didn’t get along with my mother then and it was just a difficult time and it took until after I was married before somebody brought me back to the Lord and then I understood, but I wanted nothing to do with church and nothing to do with God my entire time through high school and college.
CAMILLE: So but I’m glad I’m back.
DREW: We’re glad you’re back, too, Camille. Absolutely. And another question that came to me is how does God meet or usually meet our needs? When we’re thinking of there was a need for food, a need for water, in our lives what are some ways that you’ve experienced God meeting some of those great needs?
NANCY: I’m not sure I can give you a really concrete example, so I’ll talk in more generalities, but it’s interesting that I think a lot of times God does not meet our needs the way we think He’s going to or the way we initially ask Him. I mean, you know, I’m a person who likes to solve problems, so when something arises -- I mean, I consider myself a problem solver, so I’m always thinking, how do I do this, how can I get this taken care of, and I do pray about it, but many times God comes through in a different way than I think He’s going to. And you just go, wow, wasn’t expecting that, but in every case it’s better than what I could have come up with on my own. And I also think and based on what you were saying before I was thinking as people were talking that when -- a lot of times when I pray, you know, I’ll -- a lot of times I know what I’m praying for or I feel I know what I’m praying for, but there are other times when I’ve just said, you know, God, I don’t even know what to say. I know this is an issue, but I don’t know how to pray for this, I don’t even know what to pray for. And I think about -- and I can’t tell you what verse it is -- in the Bible where it says the Holy Spirit groans for us. I’m sure you can tell us exactly what the verse is, but that’s very comforting to me, because even if I don’t know what I’m supposed to be asking at that time or where I am headed, I know if I continue to lean on God that I’m going to end up in a good spot.
DREW: That’s super. I know I have found myself saying -- in a similar situation, not able to pray, saying, Lord, you know what I’ve been through, you know what I need, meet that need I pray.And that’s -- to me, that’s just great at those times in life. Good. Good input. Anyone else? We can move on.