Life is a journey where we will discover the sufficiency of God when we learn
to trust Him. However, we would be naïve to believe that our faith will go
untested on the journey. God’s people and God’s leaders both have lessons to
learn on the journey which cannot be fully understood except through times of
uncertainty and delayed provisions. The journey of faith is just that . . . a journey
of faith, not sight.
The presence of God in the circumstances of our lives gives us comfort and courage.
But difficult circumstances affect the way we practice the presence of God?
Difficult days may find us wondering whether God is nearby. In difficult days,
our faith may fade and our reasoning may be rattled. Are we to believe that
God has moved or changed?
The journey of Israel through the wilderness to the land of promise was filled
with many teaching moments. Moses and the children of Israel had much to learn
about God and themselves in their journey. Our journey with God also will teach
us much about God and ourselves. May we discover that He is always near regardless
of the declarations from immediate circumstances.
OFTEN ARISE FROM FALSE EXPECTATIONS – V.1-3
The people began to thirst for water in the wilderness and when their thirst
was not immediately satisfied, they began to complain. Where is God, they wondered?
It did not matter that God had been their provider in the past. Their deliverance
from the tyranny of the Egyptians had faded from their memory. The past supply
of bread from heaven had eluded their reasoning. The lack of immediate gratification
created a stir in their hearts that mixed in more doubt than faith. In their
doubts, they not only questioned the motives of God and Moses, but also assumed
that they and their children and livestock were destined to die of thirst.
Doubts often cause us to fear the worst. Our imaginations run wild and we journey
in our minds to places where God never intended for us to be. God isn’t near
us. God doesn’t care. God intends us harm. We lose perspective of who God
is and where God is. Israel forgot the very purpose for which God had brought
them out of Egypt. Let us be careful lest doubts veil the purposes, promises,
and provisions of God in our lives.
FOLLOWERS MAY BREED DOUBTS IN GOD’S LEADERS – v. 4
may be easy to be in a position as a leader when followers are content, but
there is fear and discontentment reveals the measure of leadership. Even God’s
leaders have to struggle with the onslaught of fear and doubt.
The roars of attacks at Moses appear to be louder in his ears than the clear
direction God had previously given. In Exodus 14 the people had complained
and Moses had said to them, “don’t be afraid, trust God, you will know His peace
(v. 13). However, Scripture indicates that in the midst of these words of faith,
Moses was crying to God and marking time when he should have been going forward
in faith (v. 15).
Again, in Exodus 17:4, the questions and doubts of the leader, Moses, surface
as he cries to God with the assumption that God’s purposes and plans will not
be fulfilled and his life will end under a pile of rocks. The discontented
followers were threatening the decided direction in which Moses was to lead
Leaders must get their overall direction from God. While they must listen to
followers lest they get so far in front that the followers cannot identify with
them, they must not allow the crying fears of the crowd to muffle the clear
commands of God.
LEADERS MUST OBEY GOD WITHOUT NEGOTIATION – v. 5-6
the farmer had to tell his hired hand, “Never mind the mule, load the wagon!”
so, God had to tell Moses to “Go on before the people” (v. 4). Moses had to
lead forward and do what God had specifically told him to do. On another occasion
he was told to “speak” to the rock and water would come forth. Moses had to
tweak the command a little and he “struck” the rock (Numbers 20:8-12). Disobedience
at best! God was not pleased. Moses is now told to “strike” the rock. Whatever
God says, we are to obey! We are not to negotiate or change His ways. Obedience
always glorifies the Lord and hallows His name before His people (Numbers 20:12).
IS GRACIOUS TO SHOW HIS NEARNESS IN THE PLACE OF TESTING – v.
Moses obeyed God and struck the rock in Horeb. God was standing before him
and provided the water for the thirsty people. God’s supply is always adequate,
because God is the gracious and all-sufficient God who is always near. God
knew what He was going to do even when the people did not understand. Oh,
how we need to grow in our trust of God, for when God says He will do something,
we can count on it! (v. 6)
is the nearness of God that is our greatest need, not the supply of God. The
God who is near will always have a supply that is sufficient. It is a life
of faith that will trust the God who promises, the God who provides His riches
through Christ Jesus, and the God who prepares us through the clouds to realize
His nearness and thus, His sufficiency.
brief provided by: Larry Gilmore, Group Leader of the Evangelism
Strategies Group for the Tennessee Baptist Convention in Brentwood, TN