19 Mar. Exodus 17:1-7

19 Mar. God provides water in the desert at Rephidim

“The whole Israelite community left the Desert of Sin and travelled from place to place, as the LORD commanded. They camped at Rephidim, but there was no water there for the people to drink.”

“So they quarrelled with Moses and said, ‘Give us water to drink’. Moses said, ‘Why do you quarrel with me? Why are you testing the LORD?’ But the people were very thirsty for water, so they grumbled against Moses. They said, ’Why did you bring us out of Egypt? Was it to kill us, our children and our farm animals with thirst?’”

“So Moses cried to the LORD, ‘What can I do with these people? They are almost ready to stone me to death.’”

“The LORD said to Moses, ‘Go ahead of the people, and take some of the elders of Israel with you. Carry with you the walking stick that you used to strike the Nile River. Now go! I will stand in front of you on a rock at Mount Sinai. Hit that rock with the stick, and water will come out of it so that the people can drink.’”

“Moses did these things as the elders of Israel watched. He named that place Massah, because the Israelites tested the LORD when they asked, ‘Is the LORD with us or not?’ He also named it Meribah, because they quarrelled.”

          (Exodus 17:1-7)



Having crossed the arid Desert of Sin (or ‘Wilderness of Zin’), the Israelites made camp at Rephidim (possibly on the site of Serabit el-Khadim) where there was no water to drink. The people complained bitterly about their thirst, and even threatened to stone Moses to death for bringing them out of Egypt to die (see Exodus 17:4).

Moses argued with the people and urged them to trust God, but with little effect. So, in desperation he called out to God to help him.

God told Moses to strike a rock with his walking stick, and water immediately flowed from it.

Moses called the place Massah (Hebrew, meaning ‘testing’) and Meribah (meaning ‘complaining’) because the Israelites had complained bitterly and had put God to the test when they asked “Is the LORD with us or not?” (Exodus 17:7).

Why did the LORD test the Israelites' faith at this point? Why did they have to learn that God would rescue them even when the situation seemed completely hopeless?

The Israelites didn’t know it at the time, but they were about to encounter the biggest threat to their existence since fleeing from the Egyptians across the Reed Sea. Tomorrow we will see how much they needed to trust God in extremely dire circumstances.

The photo shows the Sinai desert at Serabit el-Khadim.

You can read more about the Israelites' journey through the Sinai Desert @ https://www.thebiblejourney.org/biblejourney2/25-the-israelites-journey-from-egypt-to-mt-sinai/the-israelites-cross-the-sea-of-reeds/

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