Wednesday 18 July 2018

Bible Book:

“So Moses cried out to the LORD, ‘What shall I do with this people? They are almost ready to stone me.’” (v. 4)

Psalm: Psalm 106:1-8


The Israelites travelled from the wilderness of Sin where they were hungry, and God fed them (Exodus 16), to Rephidim, which is possibly the large Wadi Refayid in southwest Sinai. They had been obedient in following directions, but when they found a dried-up wadi they became a complaining people again!

Again, it is to Moses that their anger was directed. To them he was God’s representative, and at least partially responsible for their troubles. What they failed to grasp was that God was still testing their faithfulness and obedience, but instead it is they who were putting God to the test. Moses warned the people about the danger of doing this later (Deuteronomy 6:16).

There is anger, frustration and fear in Moses’ cry to the Lord (verse 4) and it is difficult for us to grasp the scale of the task that fell on Moses’ shoulders. We can perhaps remember groups of children we have led on a walk, making sure all were accounted for, don’t fall out, don’t stray off the path and suitably fed and watered. This was a nation, a huge number of people to be responsible for (Exodus 12:37-38), and the daily logistics must have been a nightmare. Moses’ trust was very much in God’s ability to do this, and he was also aware of his own limitations.

Moses’ cry was heard and answered. He was to go further down the wadi with a few elders and with his wooden staff strike a particular rock (verse 5), just as he had by the River Nile, which caused the water to turn as red as blood and everything in it to die (Exodus 7:20-21), the first of many plagues. Then, the action of striking the rock had cut off the supply of drinkable water, now it signalled the beginning of a flow that would satisfy the thirst of the people.

In the wilderness of Sin, there was a memorial taken of the manna. Here, the memory is in the place name, Massah (a ‘test’) and Meribah (‘contention’ or ‘strife’). The people had witnessed several miracles, and yet still questioned whether God was with them (verse 7).

To Ponder

  • When things go wrong in your life, who do you normally blame, and what is your instinctive first action?
  • Is prayer your first thought when struggling with decisions or problems in your life? If not, why might that be?
  • How easy is it for you to sense the presence of God in daily life?
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