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Grace Lutheran Church Weekly Devotional - Exodus 17:1-7

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Reverend Steve Zandstra

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?” 

Like the children of Israel, we are not immune from complaining to or about God or His leaders. Because of our own sinful nature, we quarrel, grumble, and complain. In short, we test the Lord. Complaining often indicates a lack of trust in God and His Word.  Are we any different than the Israelites when we begin wondering “Is the Lord among us or not?” (7).  When times are good, it is easy to become fat and happy, and we easily forget God is the giver of all good things.  But in the difficult and tough times, we learn to rely on Him.  Then we remember that no food fills our stomach, no water quenches our thirst unless it comes from our good and gracious Lord.  

As God’s people we are called to fear, love, and trust God with all our heart, soul, and mind.  However, trust cannot be commanded, it does not develop overnight.  Like a child that had been abused in the past, their trust often comes around by stages as they learn they are loved, little by little.  In the exodus story, God’s adopted, His chosen children, are learning to trust in stages.  They had seen His saving power in the exodus and at the Red Sea.  However, between the paradise at Elim and the ultimate paradise they would inherit in the Land promised to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, there would be real hunger and thirst.  When they complained, and put Him to the test, God does not chastise His people, He provides. By providing manna from heaven (cf. Exodus 16) and water from a rock, He is showing that He is the one they could put all their trust in to provide all their needs.  In the wilderness, our Lord is patiently building a relationship with His people.  “The Lord is” as David writes in the 145th Psalm, “gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.  The Lord is good to all, and His mercy is over all that He has made” (8-9). 

Just like the Israelites, we are in the desert, with some wandering still to do.  So, we should not be surprised when there are hot days, hungry days, and thirsty days.  And yes, along the way we will grumble.  The people grumbled to their human leader.  But, like Moses, bring your complaints to the Lord, knowing that He promises to hear your pleas. Oh, He may not always answer as quickly or in the manner we want or like.  We may, like the Israelites, wonder, “Is the Lord among us or not?”  And the answer is the same as it was for them, “Yes!  The Lord promises, “Yes, ‘Before [you] call I will answer; while [you] are yet speaking I will hear’” (cf. Isaiah 65:24).  You have our Lord’s promise, “whoever drinks the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again.  The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life” (John 4:14).  

825 North 1st West

Cheyenne Wells, CO, 80810-0728

Sunday Service begins at 9:00 a.m.