Tuesday, March 10th

“From the wilderness of Sin the whole congregation of the Israelites journeyed by stages, as the LORD commanded. They camped at Rephidim, but there was no water for the people to drink. The people quarreled with Moses, and said, “Give us water to drink.” 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 complained against Moses and said, “Why did you bring us out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and livestock with thirst?” So Moses cried out to the LORD, “What shall I do with this people? They are almost ready to stone me.” The LORD said to Moses, “Go on ahead of the people, and take some of the elders of Israel with you; take in your hand the staff with which you struck the Nile, and go. I will be standing there in front of you on the rock at Horeb. Strike the rock, and water will come out of it, so that the people may drink.” Moses did so, in the sight of the elders of Israel. He called the place Massah and Meribah, because the Israelites quarreled and tested the LORD, saying, “Is the LORD among us or not?”  Exodus 17:1-7

 

Yesterday they were hungry.  Today they are thirsty.  And you really can’t blame them.  There are no doubt worse things in life than walking through a desert wilderness all day only to arrive at a campsite with no water…but that would be pretty tough.

 

Which reminds me, in a world with millions of people who suffer every day due to a lack of sanitary and available drinking water, we have it pretty easy.  I experience being thirsty but I can’t remember the last time I had to endure that feeling for longer than a few minutes.

 

The interesting part of this story is how the crowd complains to Moses.  He has walked as far as they have.  He is as thirsty as they are.  He has no more water than they do.  But he gets their complaints.  More on that below…

 

Every pastor, every person in any position of authority, every parent who has driven the kids on a long trip with them constantly fighting in the back seat has to love how Moses responds – first to the people, “Why do you quarrel with me?” and then to the Lord, “What shall I do with this people?”

 

Moses gets their complaints.  Of course he does.  That is his job.  He is their leader.  The very fact that they are complaining to Moses demonstrates their understanding that he is, in fact, their leader.

 

They have a leader in the wilderness.  His presence and his role means they aren’t lost…they’re just taking the long way around.  And Moses is a good leader.  He realizes that he and the crowd aren’t alone.

 

So, although he might be frustrated and exasperated and tired of the whining, he brings, once again, their cause to God.  And then, in faith, he strikes the rock at Horeb and streams of living water flow out to quench the thirst of all.

 

So it is in the wilderness. When things seem horrible, surprises abound.

 

Let us pray:  Gracious Lord, help us trust your provision when we seem lost in our complaints, our hunger and our thirst.  Thank you for leaders who know where their power and authority come from, and thank you for the surprising glimpses of grace you give us when we least expect it.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

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