Each of us comes to this place of worship with a “thirst” which we, ourselves, cannot quench; something deep-down, inside which needs to be satisfied. Can you remember a time when you were thirsty – I mean, REALLY thirsty? Parched! …Perhaps on a hot, 100+ degree, summer day with the Kansas wind and dust blowing? If you can remember such a feeling of thirst, perhaps you have an idea of what the Old Testament Israelites might have been experiencing, as recorded in our text from Exodus 17.
They had not long been freed from their brutalizing captivity in Egypt when they were led by God to camp at Rephidim, toward the southern end of the Sinai Peninsula, near Mt Sinai. As it turns out, this was a place without water and “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?'” (Exodus 17: 2)
This was certainly NOT the first time that they quarreled with Moses about what they needed and wanted. Exodus 16 reminds us that, only a little over a month after God had miraculously rescued them out of their Egyptian bondage, “the whole community grumbled against Moses and Aaron (and God). The Israelites said to them, ‘If only we had died by the Lord’s hand in Egypt! There we sat around pots of meat and ate all the food we wanted, but you have brought us out into this desert to starve this entire assembly to death.'” (Exodus 16: 2-3) God graciously provided meat (quail), bread (manna) and, in our text, water. God commanded Moses to take some of the Elders of Israel, go out ahead of the people to “the rock at Horeb (meaning “dry place”) [and] strike the rock, and water will come out of it for the people to drink.” (Exodus 17: 6)
Through their self-centered and sinful words and actions, the people continually quarreled, grumbled and tested both their own leaders and God, Himself! They thought that “the grass seemed greener on the other side.” And, often, so do we! We see what others have and covet it. We want what we want, when we want it, because we want it! We find ourselves so worried about our finances, family and the future.
God DID provide for His people, the Israelites, and He provides for us… not because we fuss and grumble and quarrel and test; but because it is His nature to care, forgive, provide and save! He cares for you, too, no matter what your situation, concern and thirst. He knows how to quench your real thirst. Paul reminds us, “If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but gave Him up for us all – how will He not also, along with Him, graciously give us all things?” (Romans 8: 31b-32) Our Heavenly Father gave His only Son, Jesus, to be our sacrifice – to take away all of our sin, guilt and shame – and give us forgiveness and freedom. He provides for our greatest need and quenches our greatest thirst! Won’t He also care for “the little things that come along?” Of course He will, and does!
God calls us today – to repent of our self-centeredness; to believe in the Savior He sent for us; to trust that He knows and supplies us with everything we truly need; and to live confidently in that assurance. As Luther said it so well, so long ago, “I believe that God has made me and all creatures… given me clothing, shoes, food and drink… [and] He richly and daily provides me with all that I need to support this body and life.” (Luther’s Explanation to the First Article of the Apostles’ Creed). How thankfully, confidently and joyfully we can now live to His glory! May we do exactly that! Amen!
See you in church this next weekend!
Blessings in Christ,