God's patience has limits. Make sure your demands don't outpace your trust!
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Exodus 17 (ESV)
1 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.
2 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?”
3 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
4 So Moses cried to the Lord,
“What shall I do with this people? They are almost ready to stone me.”
5 And the Lord said to Moses,
“Pass on before the people,
taking with you some of the elders of Israel,
take in your hand the staff with which you struck the Nile,
6 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.
7 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?”
8 Then Amalek came and fought with Israel at Rephidim.
9 So Moses said to Joshua,
“Choose for us men,
and go out
and fight with Amalek.
Tomorrow I will stand
on the top of the hill
with the staff of God in my hand.”
10 So Joshua
did as Moses told him,
and fought with Amalek,
while Moses, Aaron, and Hur went up to the top of the hill.
11 Whenever Moses
held up his hand,
he lowered his hand,
12 But Moses’ hands grew weary,
so they took a stone and put it under him, and he sat on it,
while Aaron and Hur held up his hands,
one on one side,
and the other on the other side.
So his hands were steady until the going down of the sun.
13 And Joshua overwhelmed Amalek and his people with the sword.
14 Then the Lord said to Moses,
“Write this as a memorial in a book and recite it in the ears of Joshua,
that I will utterly blot out the memory of Amalek from under heaven.”
15 And Moses built an altar and called the name of it,
The Lord Is My Banner,
“A hand upon the throne of the Lord!
The Lord will have war with Amalek from generation to generation.”
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Exodus 17 Summary
God has just satisfied the hunger of the Israelites with manna and quail, but now they're thirsty. Yet instead trusting in the Lord, who they've now seen crush the Egyptians, open the sea, and lead them in a pillar of fire, they once again become belligerent, threatening to kill Moses (v4) and repeating their go-to complaint: why did we need to march into the desert to die? (v3)
Yet once again, God provides fresh, clean water, springing forth from as unlikely of a place as a rock in the middle of a vast desert. All the people needed to do was ask.
The second half of the chapter records the first battle against Canaanites, who happen to be their cousins, the Amalekites, the descendants of Esau.
God makes it clear that it's His strength, not theirs, that wins the battle. As long as Moses can keep his hands and staff held up to the Lord, the Israelites prevail.
The anger the Israelites demonstrate against God as they demand water turns out to be fatal. God has provided everything His people have needed, and had they simply asked for water in tall glasses full of chilled water with crushed ice and an umbrella straw, He probably would have granted it.
But they didn't ask. Instead, they assumed that they were being led to their death in a hot, dry desert, griping to Moses with hands full of rocks to put an end to him.
God grants them their immediate need and water springs forth (just as He supplies us with Living Water), but in doing so it becomes clear that this generation will need to pass away before the people are ready to enter the promised land. Psalm 95 makes it clear that it was this incident which was the last straw for God.
Know that God's patience is vast and deep, but it's not endless. The next time you're tempted to lash out in anger regarding what you don't have, take a moment to recount God's goodness to you and humbly ask for what you need.
ACKNOWLEDGE WHO GOD IS: The Lord Is My Banner (v15)
ALIGN YOUR LIFE WITH GOD'S WILL: Pray for good recall of God's provision in the past and that you will fully trust Him in the future.
ASK GOD FOR WHAT YOU NEED: