“Then all the congregation of the children of Israel set out on their journey from the Wilderness of Sin, according to the commandment of the LORD, and camped in Rephidim; but there was no water for the people to drink. Therefore the people contended with Moses, and said, “Give us water, that we may drink.” So Moses said to them, “Why do you contend with me? Why do you tempt the LORD?” And the people thirsted there for water, and the people complained against Moses, and said, “Why is it you have brought us up out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and our livestock with thirst?” So Moses cried out to the LORD, saying, “What shall I do with this people? They are almost ready to stone me!” And the LORD said to Moses, “Go on before the people, and take with you some of the elders of Israel. Also take in your hand your rod with which you struck the river, and go. Behold, I will stand before you there on the rock in 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. So he called the name of the place Massah and Meribah, because of the contention of the children of Israel, and because they tempted the LORD, saying, “Is the LORD among us or not?” Now Amalek came and fought with Israel in Rephidim. And Moses said to Joshua, “Choose us some men and go out, fight with Amalek. Tomorrow I will stand on the top of the hill with the rod of God in my hand.” So Joshua did as Moses said to him, and fought with Amalek. And Moses, Aaron, and Hur went up to the top of the hill. And so it was, when Moses held up his hand, that Israel prevailed; and when he let down his hand, Amalek prevailed. But Moses’ hands became heavy; so they took a stone and put it under him, and he sat on it. And Aaron and Hur supported his hands, one on one side, and the other on the other side; and his hands were steady until the going down of the sun. So Joshua defeated Amalek and his people with the edge of the sword. Then the LORD said to Moses, “Write this for a memorial in the book and recount it in the hearing of Joshua, that I will utterly blot out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven.” And Moses built an altar and called its name, The- LORD -Is-My-Banner; for he said, “Because the LORD has sworn: the LORD will have war with Amalek from generation to generation.””
Exodus 17:1-16 NKJV
A few times recently I have read these words, or have heard them from a pulpit, it’s a fascinating story to me, one of how a nation of people can challenge Gods presence in their journey and and then all of a sudden He shows up and completes not only one but two miraculous moves and all within hours.
Today as I read these words again, I was drawn to the parallel. I’ve read them a hundred times before but as I read tonight I was faced with a question; am I Moses or the Israelites?
In this chapter the Israelites have already escaped a 400 year captivity as slaves in Egypt, and they have seen the Red Sea split before their very eyes. Not only had God proved His hand in their escape route but he had even led them by pillars of fire, and clouds, and ensured both Manna and Quail rained down from heaven giving them enough for each and every day.
These people knew of Gods capabilities, yet they questioned Him. They had stood beside the raging Red Sea and watched as God enabled them to cross it on dry land, they had witnessed the 10 plagues, they had seen the pain, and misery brought to the Egyptians and yet they questioned God. It’s amazing to think these people forgot so quickly, and yet tonight to my shame I say with my head low, I am no better. So often I am the Israelites. Now in my life, I am facing a waterless moment, where I have no idea of where Gods hand is, and I am feeling as though my life is out of control, and yet I forget those moments before when God has opened the Red Sea for me, or fed me from his gracious hand, or guarded me and kept me safe. I forget too easily.
Moses on the other hand, this is a person I would love to share the characteristics of. He never forgot, he held his ground and he went to a God he had faith in. The word of God says he ‘cried out to God’. The dictionary defines it simply as a ‘passionate and honest appeal or protest’. He came to God and passionately delivered a prayer for himself and the hundreds and thousands of Israelites who looked to him for leadership, in fear and faith, in anguish and angst and God answered.
‘Go to Horeb‘ he says, take the elders with you and strike the rock, there you will have water for the people. Go and strike a rock? Simple tasks made holy by a divine God who will use the weak and small things of this world including a simple staff to ensure the safety, health and love of His people. Moses does so and just as God said, water flowed.
Today I am challenged to be more like Moses, to be a person with faith who will believe the battles are already won for me. Will that mean I will worry less? If I’m honest I will have to say yes and no. Yes because I know God has it, but no because I am only human, and I know that time and time again I will need to come to God and rededicate this part of my life to my Heavenly Father.
Just like Moses, in the next few verses he is found standing with his arms raised before God while watching as Joshua and the army take on the Amalekites, we all have weak points in our life. We all have moments in battle when we feel like dropping our arms and allowing the staff to fall to the floor, but hallelujah for good friends, for God appointed friends, who come in and say ‘sit down, I’ll hold you up!’.
I am thankful for a divine appointment such as this today, and each and every time it happens, but I am also thankful for a God who allows and ordains these moments to keep me sane, to keep me holy, and to keep me fighting, for the battle is mine.
While I stand in my version of the desert of Sin, awaiting my mount Sinai moment with God when He opens doors in my life with specific instructions as to what next I am thankful that He gives me the opportunity to be like Moses, and to love Him as deeply.