Testing God in the Wilderness of Life

Then all the congregation of the sons of Israel journeyed by stages from the wilderness of Sin, according to the command of the Lord, and camped at Rephidim, and there was no water for the people to drink.  Therefore the people quarreled with Moses and said, “Give us water that we may 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 they grumbled against Moses and said, “Why, now, have you brought us up from Egypt, to kill us and our children and our livestock with thirst?” So Moses cried out to the Lord, saying, “What shall I do to this people? A little more and they will stone me.” Then the Lord said to Moses, “Pass before the people and take with you some of the elders of Israel; and take in your hand your 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 will come out of it, that the people may drink.” And Moses did so in the sight of the elders of Israel. He named the place Massah and Meribah because of the quarrel of the sons of Israel, and because they tested the Lord, saying, “Is the Lord among us, or not?” Exodus 17:1-7

Do you ever have days in your life where you just want to cry out, LORD are You among me or not? The weight of this world, the disappointments and difficulty that you feel like life is bringing, and even the uncertainty of what your future really holds, looms in your mind. Surely this is how many of the Israelites felt as the started their trek across the wilderness. There must be an easier way, that doesn’t surround me by enemies or leave me feeling out of control and disheartened about what is next for my family.

As we peer onto the scene taking place in Exodus 17 we see Moses being confronted by his own people. The one who foreshadowed Jesus Christ, who was called to forsake his royal position, so that he could suffer with his people and deliver them from bondage and lead them on what was supposed to be a pretty, straightforward, narrow journey, now comes face to face with their dissatisfaction. I find it interesting that it was these same people who accepted this gift of God leading them out of bondage and towards the promise of a land that offered rest, who now began to grumble and complain among themselves. Of course when God’s people began to test Him in the wilderness, they do so out of doubt and unbelief in what His plans were for their lives and future. They questioned His thoughts and ways of bringing them out of Egypt and the difficult journey it was taking to get to the Promised Land. They grumbled and complained to the point, that their life in bondage began to look like the better option than the one to freedom. The burden of the works they were accomplishing back in Egypt by their own hands became more desirable than the rest Yahweh was offering through His hands. To them, as painful as that bondage was, it still offered them the temporary assurance of life. And yet, even while the people tempted God saying- “Is the LORD among us or not”, He still gave forth another sign of mercy and His coming plan to assure them that He was among them.

God would stand before Moses there on the rock at Horeb, and as Moses struck the rock, water would come forth from it, so that the people could drink and live.

How prophetic this would be, as just a few thousand years later, another Rock (Jesus the Christ) would be struck, as they tempted the LORD and cried out, “Is the LORD among us or not?” From this Rock would flow forth the wellspring of living water that we need in this wilderness of life until we enter into our Promised Land of rest. Paul writes about this very event when He states: They drank of that spiritual Rock, and that Rock was Christ (1 Cor10:4).

The question that remains today for God’s people journeying towards the Promised Land, and who have once again witnessed the striking of the Rock and tasted of its life giving waters is, are we to grumbling along our journey? Do we find ourselves growing weary of this calling through the wilderness, with it’s barren, difficult, often uncomfortable experiences. Do we look back and long for what the world once offered us and the acceptance we felt like it gave us, even if we were in bondage. Are we testing God and His ways of what our personal journey should look like because we long for a better, more comfortable way?

Oh dear followers in this desert of life, who have listened to the One who delivers us from bondage and calls us to “Come follow Me.” Let us remember what the writer of Hebrews says to us so that we don’t lose heart, grow weary and drift away.

Beware, Brethren, lest there be in any of you and evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God; but exhort one another daily, while it is called Today, lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. For we have become partakers of Christ if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end, while it is said: “Today, if you will hear His voice, Do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion.” (Hebrews 3:12-15)

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