Hi, welcome to Redeem the Commute. I’m Ryan, your host for the Daily Challenges. Yesterday we read the story of how God provided water to the people of Israel when they were thirsty, having been led into a desert to escape slavery.
They were grumbling, asking if Moses had brought them out there to die. They probably weren’t at their best. Anyone thirsty and stuck in a desert won’t be thinking straight. They’re physically suffering, afraid and full of regret.
After God gave them miraculous water in the desert, from a rock no less, you’d think this would be a moment to forget.
Unfortunately for them, it seems Moses wanted the people to remember this place. In the last verse of this reading, “…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?””
The names mean “temptation” and “murmuring.” He didn’t name it after water, divine provision or anything good. He named it for their whining and impatience. Anytime Israel visited this spot, they would remember how God showed patience and generosity when they did not.
The final line says it all. Moses says the Israelites were asking “Is the LORD among us or not?”. They weren’t recorded as saying those exact words, but Moses is cutting right to the heart of all their other questions about water and dying in the desert. Their grumbling, impatience and doubt reveal that they don’t really believe God is with them. They are acting as if they are alone in the desert by mistake, having forgotten that God brought them out of slavery, into the desert, and kept them there rather than taking a direct route to their new lands.
This kind of story is often used as evidence that the Bible is describing historical events. This doesn’t make the Israelites look good, and an editor interested only in propaganda for Israel might cut it out. But it’s still here, and it makes God look good, even if the Israelites look bad.
Question: How does complaining show that we trust our own strength more than God’s? Why do you think God would want Moses and his people to remember this place and experience?