Life in the Desert

Exodus 17:1-7

From the wilderness of Sin the whole congregation of the Israelites journeyed by stages, as the Lordcommanded. 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[a] and Meribah,[b] because the Israelites quarreled and tested the Lord, saying, “Is the Lord among us or not?”

Clearly life in the desert was difficult for the wandering Israelites; understandably, they complained mightily to Moses. At one time, complaints arose about the lack of bread and meat. So God gave the people manna and quail to eat. In today’s text, people quarrel about the lack of water.
So God has Moses strike a rock and bring forth a freshet in the desert.
 
Two points can be derived from these stories. First, people grumbled a lot. Second, God addressed their grumbling. Like our forebears, we are likely to complain a lot too. After all, we are hungry and thirsty about a lot of things.  Complaining may get things off our chest. In the end, though, it is better to quit griping and begin recognizing our blessings. After all, we have been given the bread and water of life. Let us eat, drink,
praise God and live. 
 
We give you thanks, O God, that through water and the Holy Spirit you give us new birth. Cleanse us from sin and raise us to eternal life in Jesus’ name. Amen.
 
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