Hi. Welcome to Redeem the Commute. I’m Ryan, your host of the daily challenges. Today is Tuesday, the day we study the Bible together. This week we’re going to study a story that illustrates God’s patience with humanity.
It starts in the same context as the last two weeks of challenges. The people of Israel have been slaves in Egypt for years, but God has just helped them escape and is leading them toward their own promised land. You’d think they would have a healthy awareness of God’s power and protection of them. He’s used plagues to convince the Egyptian king to let Israel leave, he’s led them by a pillar of cloud and fire, he’s divided the Red Sea in two, simply so they can escape an attacking Egyptian army and he’s brought them miraculous food from heaven to eat while in the desert. And yet, the moment they get thirsty, they doubt God’s plans again. Here’s what happened:
All the congregation of the people of Israel moved on from the wilderness of Sin by stages, according to the commandment of the LORD, and camped at Rephidim, but there was no water for the people to drink. Therefore the people quarreled with Moses and said, “Give us water to 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 the people grumbled against Moses and said, “Why did you bring us up out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and our livestock with thirst?” So Moses cried to the LORD, “What shall I do with this people? They are almost ready to stone me.” And the LORD said to Moses, “Pass on before the people, taking with you some of the elders of Israel, and take in your hand the 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 shall come out of it, and the people will drink.” And Moses did so, in the sight of the elders of Israel. And he called the name of the place Massah and Meribah, because of the quarreling of the people of Israel, and because they tested the LORD by saying, “Is the LORD among us or not?” (Exodus 17:1-7 ESV)
The words “Give us water to drink” seem reasonable enough, but the Bible does say the Israelites quarreled with him, and clearly stepped up their criticism when he pushed back. It turns into a personal attack on his motives, suggesting he led them into the desert to die.
Perhaps you can imagine the competing voices in one’s head. On the one hand, I’ve seen incredible things, and know God is behind them all. But on the other hand, I’m thirsty, there’s no water in sight, and Moses doesn’t seem to be doing anything about it!
Now, God gave Moses some specific instructions. Go find a specific rock, and hit it with your walking stick.
That’s it. God simply gives instructions on how to find water. They are weird instructions, but instructions all the same. He didn’t want them to go dig a well, or guide them to a certain oasis, mountain spring or otherwise. He didn’t just send rain. He sent them to find water in a way that would clearly, unquestionably have come from him. Rocks hit with sticks don’t usually turn to water, and so there’d be no speculation about coincidences or illusions – this would be God-given water.
Question: How do God’s actions show patience? How might a different god have reacted?