Exodus 17 -- 19
As they continued their journey toward the Promised Land, the Israelites were faced with another test of their need to depend upon God. The children of Israel journeyed . . . according to the commandment of the Lord, and pitched (set up camp) in Rephidim: and there was no water for the people to drink. . . . And the people murmured against Moses, and said, Wherefore is this that you have brought us up out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and our cattle with thirst? . . . And he called the . . . place Massah, and Meribah, because of the chiding (complaining) of the children of Israel, and because they tempted the Lord, saying, Is the Lord among us, or not? (Exodus 17:1,3,7). The Lord knew there was no water there, and yet He directed the Israelites to that very place.
The wilderness journeys exposed the Israelites' refusal to trust the Lord. The writer of Hebrews warns us: Harden not your hearts, as in the provocation, in the day of temptation in the wilderness: When your fathers tempted Me, proved Me, and saw My works forty years. Wherefore I was grieved with that generation, and said, They do alway err in their heart; and they have not known My ways (Hebrews 3:8-10; see also Psalms 95:8-10).
The Israelites' wilderness journey is symbolic of the Christians' pilgrimage through life. From their experiences, we should learn to trust God, even when anticipated resources are not available. Often, when we face difficulties or discouraging situations, we are tempted to blame someone else, just as the Israelites blamed Moses. Frustration on the job, emotional stress, and discontent, blaming others for our uncomfortable situation, hatred, jealousy, fits of anger -- these are all evidence of the selfish life demanding its own way. Even more serious, they are expressions of distrust in the wisdom, competence, and goodness of God. Those who desire to be led by the Holy Spirit must expect to encounter trials and situations to test their trust in the faithfulness of God, as well as to develop and strengthen their faith for more difficult situations in the future.
The key to peace of mind is confidence in God and His Word. At some time or other, most of us will face emotional needs, such as loneliness, fear, anxiety, or loss of interest in life, any of which could tempt us to become discouraged and find fault as the Israelites did.
Like Moses, we need to see disappointments as opportunities to exercise our faith and trust in the Lord. The choice is ours. Events in our lives, whether spiritual, emotional, mental, physical, or social, are similar to experiences of others in Scripture. Nothing has been overlooked.
Rely upon God when you are in heaviness through manifold temptations: That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perishes, though it be tried with fire, might be found to praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ (I Peter 1:6-7).
17:1 pitched = encamped; 17:2 chide = find fault; 17:7 Massah/Meribah = tempted the Lord to slay them because of their faultfinding; 17:13 discomfited = defeated; 17:15 Jehovah-nissi = the Lord is my refuge; 19:5 peculiar = special.
Government Officials: Gov. Thomas Carper (DE), Sen. Frank Lautenberg (NJ), Rep. Baron Hill (IN), Rep. Bud Shuster (PA), and Rep. Charles Taylor (NC) · BPM Staff: Barbara Jean Jackson · Pray for Capitol Hill Prayer Partners in Washington DC and Sara Ballenger, Director · Pray for the Bible Pathway International Radio Broadcast in honor of Mark and Charlotte Ketterer · Country: South Korea (43 million) in northeastern Asia · Major languages: Korean and English · Religious freedom · 33% Buddhist; 24% Protestant; 22% Confucianism and other eastern religions; 4% Roman Catholic · Prayer Suggestion: Trust the Lord; He will never forsake you (Psalms 9:10).
Memory Verse for the Week: