Have you ever wondered why it took so long (40 years) for God to finally lead the people into Canaan or the "Promised Land?" It's not like Israel hadn't already traveled to Canaan or by there more than once through their years in the wilderness. Why 40 years? Why not 4 weeks, or 4 days, or even 4 months or 4 years... 40 years? Is that really necessary?
I believe those 40 years served for the Hebrew people as a form of "bootcamp." They had to depend solely on God for food, drink, shelter, healing, and direction. You can imagine that after a while the people got tired of packing and unpacking and moving from here to there.
At times throughout the 40 years the Israelites grumbled and complained. But in our text today the Israelites moved from grumbling to quarreling--they had grown angry in their arguments with Moses and God.
1 The whole Israelite community set out from the Desert of Sin, traveling from place to place as the Lord commanded. They camped at Rephidim, but there was no water for the people to drink.
2 So they quarreled with Moses and said, “Give us water to drink.”
Moses replied, “Why do you quarrel with me? Why do you put the Lord to the test?”
3 But the people were thirsty for water there, and they grumbled against Moses. They said, “Why did you bring us up out of Egypt to make us and our children and livestock die of thirst?”
4 Then Moses cried out to the Lord, “What am I to do with these people? They are almost ready to stone me.”
5 The Lord answered Moses, “Go out in front of the people. Take with you some of the elders of Israel and take in your hand the staff with which you struck the Nile,and go.
6 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.” So Moses did this in the sight of the elders of Israel.
7 And he called the place Massah (testing) and Meribah (quarreling) because the Israelites quarreled and because they tested the Lord saying, “Is the Lord among us or not?”
This is a sad but real human scenario...
At the same time that the Israelites are asking if "the Lord is among us or not,"
they have a pillar of cloud that showed them where they were supposed to be,
they had manna and quail that would fall from the sky for them to eat daily,
and they had a leader who was called out by God to deliver them from Egyptian slavery.
In the midst of this Godly activity all around them, they focus on the fact that there is no water. This is understandable since water is absolutely necessary for life, but rather than praying to God to provide water for them, they grumble, complain, quarrel, and even wish they were back in the "good old days" of slavery. WOW!
Isn't this just like us sometimes?
We have so many blessings that if we were to count we would spend hours naming them.
When there is one little obstacle,
When there is one thing lacking,
We begin to question God's love, plans, and existence.
We might even quit praying or believing.
Little do we know...
Little did the Israelites know that being in that situation was actually God's plan all along.
God wanted to test their faith, patience, and trust in Him.
You are my provider and protector
You are my refuge and my strength
Forgive me for the moments when I doubt you plans
Forgive me for when I don't recognize your testing
Help me to trust you more
In Christ's name. Amen.
We can face the adversities of life with faith, rather than with fear;
We can trust God, rather than test Him.
GOD OFTEN REVEALS HIS PRESENCE AND PURPOSES THROUGH CIRCUMSTANCES IN WHICH HE APPEARS TO BE ABSENT!
3 Trust in the Lord and do good;
dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.
4 Take delight in the Lord,
and he will give you the desires of your heart.
5 Commit your way to the Lord;
trust in him and he will do this:
6 He will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn,
your vindication like the noonday sun.
7 Be still before the Lord
and wait patiently for him;
do not fret when people succeed in their ways,
when they carry out their wicked schemes.
8 Refrain from anger and turn from wrath;
do not fret—it leads only to evil.
9 For those who are evil will be destroyed,
but those who hope in the Lord will inherit the land.