Massah and Meribah

September 26 2021

Exodus 17.1-7         

1 The whole Israelite community set out from the Desert of Sin, traveling from place to place as the Lord commanded. They camped at Rephidim, but there was no water for the people to drink. So they quarreled with Moses and said, “Give us water to drink.”

Moses replied, “Why do you quarrel with me? Why do you put the Lord to the test?”

But the people were thirsty for water there, and they grumbled against Moses. They said, “Why did you bring us up out of Egypt to make us and our children and livestock die of thirst?”

Then Moses cried out to the Lord, “What am I to do with these people? They are almost ready to stone me.”

The Lord answered Moses, “Go out in front of the people. Take with you some of the elders of Israel and take in your hand the staff with which you struck the Nile, and go. I will stand there before you by the rock at Horeb. Strike the rock, and water will come out of it for the people to drink.” So Moses did this in the sight of the elders of Israel. And he called the place Massah and Meribah because the Israelites quarreled and because they tested the Lord saying, “Is the Lord among us or not?”

This event will be brought back up in the life of Israel (Numbers 20, Deuteronomy 32, Ezekiel 47, Psalm 81, 95 and 106).  Reminding the people not to be those who grumbled and complained against the Lord, but to be those who trust in the Lord.  So many times they will question God’s faithfulness and be shown again and again that he is more faithful then they can comprehend.

It seems to be ingrained into the people so much that much later in their history they will question and look for more signs of God being at work in their midst, even as Jesus himself walks in their midst, having shown great signs already, they will ask for signs.  And in the end, he will show them the most important sign that he has been pointing to all along, after they have him crucified, he will rise up from the grave.

God still works in faithfulness among us all.  Maybe we don’t see water from a rock anymore.  We see words that bring grace come from our lips and have lasting effects, even when we are not feeling gracious or inspired ourselves, God still works.  God brings grace to us in unexpected ways.  Through people we may never have expected.  Through events that may have seemed tragic, but turned out to be times of grace.

God has called us his people and we know, as Israel did, that God is among us.  He is with us as we worship, as we receive bread and wind from his hand, as we receive life in his Son, Jesus.  God is among us as we see others heeding the call to serve now, in the midst of our own struggles of pandemic.  And he will be with us as we heed his call and follow throughout life.

SongI Will Follow


O God, you have so greatly loved us, long sought us, and mercifully redeemed us.  Give us grace, that in everything we may yield ourselves, our wills, and our works, a continual thank-offering to you, through Jesus Christ, our Lord.  Amen.

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