September 25, 2011
Exodus 17:1-7

Life is a journey in which we will discover the sufficiency of God when we learn to trust Him. However, we would be naïve to believe our faith will go untested on the journey. God’s people and God’s leaders 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 if God is nearby. In difficult days, our faith may fade and our reasoning may be rattled. Are we to believe 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 our immediate circumstances.

Doubts Often Arise from False Expectations (vv. 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 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 us to go. We think, “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 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.

Doubting Followers May Breed Doubts in God’s Leaders (v. 4)
It may be easy to be in a position as a leader when followers are content, but to lead when there is fear and discontentment reveals the measure of leadership. Even God’s appointed leaders have to struggle with the onslaught of fear and doubt. The roars of attacks on Moses seem louder in his ears than the clear direction God previously gave. In Exodus 14, the people had complained and Moses had said to them, “Don’t be afraid. Trust God, and 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.

God’s Leaders Must Obey God Without Negotiation (vv. 5-6)
As the farmer had to tell his hired hand, “Never mind the mule; load the wagon!” so, God had to tell Moses, “Go on before the people” (v. 4). Moses had to lead forward and do what God specifically told him to do. On another occasion, he was told to speak to the rock, and water would come forth. Moses tweaked the command a little and struck the rock (Numbers 20:8-12). Disobedience at best! God was not pleased. Moses then was 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 (Num. 20:12).

God Is Gracious to Show His Nearness in the Place of Testing (v. 6)
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)!

It is the nearness of God that is our greatest need, not the supply of God. The God who is near always will 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 sufficiency.

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