Our reading today is Exodus Chapter 17, two separate stories but interesting they are right next to each other.
So firstly we have yet another episode of grumbling (vs.1-7). We’ve had the bitter water which was turned sweet, then the lack of food which was then provided for in abundance, now further along on their journey again they reach and stay at a place where there is no water (they are going through the desert remember!). And so they quarrel (v.2) and grumble again (v.3) against Moses. No wonder in his crying to the Lord he distances himself from them, he calls them ‘these people’ rather than ‘my people’ (v.4).And so the Lord again supernaturally provides for His people by instructing Moses to strike a rock with his staff, from which water then pours out (vs.5-6).
I have mentioned previously that the story of the Exodus is celebrated throughout the rest of Scripture, and so too is this incident, for example Psalms 78 and 105. But importantly what came beforehand, the grumbling and testing of the Lord, is also remembered as a warning, perhaps most notably in Psalm 95 vs.8-11, traditionally used in Anglican morning services down the years.The apostle Paul in the NT saw the rock as a picture of the pre-incarnate Christ (1 Corinthians Ch.10 v.4) who accompanied them and sustained them on the journey. And it was Jesus Himself who said, ‘If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him. By this he meant the Spirit…’ (John Chapter 7 vs.37-38).
And then more briefly we have an account of the first battle that the Israelites had to face as they are attacked by local tribes (vs.8-16). We have the first mention of Joshua, who will become a very important character later on. The Israelites prevail because of Joshua’s fighting, because of Moses lifting his arms (it is almost comical at the end with Moses sitting down and having his arms held by Aaron and Hur), but really because the Lord was fighting their battle for them. What struck me for the first time, is how the Lord’s protection followed the Lord’s provision, just after when the Israelites were grumbling away at Him. This battle was just as much an example of the Lord’s grace and mercy, His undeserved love and favour, as the provision of the water.
From our extended church address list, we remember in our prayers today,- Beatrix & family- Lynn’s daughter Ellie, and her husband Lee