Is God Really With Us?

Session 9.40

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Introduction

This week we continue our journey through Exodus in 17:1-7. The Israelites have been traveling in the wilderness for about three months at this point in the story. And in today’s text we are reading the 4th text in which the Israelites grumble and complain about their lack of resources in the wilderness.

Scripture: Exodus 17:1-7

From the wilderness of Sin the whole congregation of the Israelites journeyed by stages, as the Lord commanded. They camped at Rephidim, but there was no water for the people to drink. The people quarreled with Moses, and said, “Give us water to drink.” Moses said to them, “Why do you quarrel with me? Why do you test the Lord?” Read More

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Nikki's Notes
Is God Really With Us? At the end of today’s text Moses names the place where the Israelites received water: Meribah and Massah. The word Massah means testing and the word Meribah means quarreling. Moses did not name the place for the miracle that was performed, but rather for the quarrel, testing and trial that took place. The Israelites were essentially put on trial and God shows up to court when summoned and shows the Israelites once again that God is there and that God will provide. Through the book of Exodus the Israelites consistently need to be reminded that God is with them and that God will provide. Their need is not so dissimilar from our own. They and we need to know that God is indeed present, even in the messiest and neediest moments of our lives. We are not looking for a God in the cosmos, coldly watching over things. Rather, we need and want a God who is close. And we want God close in all the hard moments of life: when we get the diagnosis, when we lose our job, when our family starts to fall apart. These are all times that we all look to the sky and whisper, “Are you still there? This time too?” God will continue to show up to us even if we keep asking, for when we ask if God is there, we are confessing our need and our dependence on God. Looking for more insight on this session? Check out our podcast.
Nikki's Video Script
Is God Really With Us? This week we continue our journey through Exodus in 17:1-7. The Israelites have been traveling in the wilderness for about three months at this point in the story. And in today’s text we are reading the 4th text in which the Israelites grumble and complain about their lack of resources in the wilderness. It is easy for us, who have food at the ready and water that runs from a tap whenever we need it, to see the Israelites complaining as a lack of obedience or gratitude for God’s work up to this point. These people have seen God’s power in the plagues, and witnessed God’s ability save them at the Red Sea. They have even been the recipients of God’s provision in the wilderness. Why can they not simply trust that God will provide? Let us not jump to judgment too easily. Have you ever found yourself lacking your basic needs for even a short time? As I am working on this, I am acutely aware of those in Houston and Florida who are trying to put their lives back together after hurricanes Harvey and Irma. Many of these people do know what it is like to lack access to basic needs. When I read through the book of Exodus it always seems as though Moses is flying by the seat of his pants. As one who likes to make sure everything is planned down to the smallest detail, this approach to anything causes me a little anxiety. And I think the Israelites know that Moses doesn’t really know what is coming next. Because of this, they complain to him and demand he provide them with water. In reality, this is a reasonable request. Without water, they will not survive. Moses’ response is interesting. He seems to take offense and sounds exasperated with the people. He also seems to fear mutiny, though we don’t know if that was a real threat or not. God’s response is markedly different. God does not seem impatient with the people – rather, God simply instructs Moses on how he can provide water to the people. Through these early wilderness travels, the people complain quite a bit – so much so that complaining in the wilderness is considered a Biblical theme. The people seem to be trying to understand how this new relationship between them and God is going to work. At the same time, there is a sense that God is also working things out with the Israelites. In chapters 15 and 16, God tests the Israelites to see if they will listen and obey instructions. Perhaps God, and Moses, and the people are showing us a picture of what it looks like to work out the divine-human relationship. In the beginning it was exciting as they were being rescued from slavery in Egypt. Now, as they are settling into the tedious day-to-day struggle of being in the wilderness, they are wondering what they have gotten themselves into. The people are wondering, “Is God really here with us? Can we really trust that God will provide?” And we have all asked those questions at one point or another—whether we were consciously aware of it or not. In the Exodus saga we see that God is there to provide and to be present, though the provisions do not always come easily, quickly, or as expected. Today, most of us are not waiting on God to provide us with water. Instead we are looking for God to provide us with a sense of love, security, hope, protection, relationship, and so many other things. We are prone to complain about these things when they seem unavailable to us or out of reach, yet God does provide. God is interested in caring for all that God has created; and God will do so. It may not come to us easily, quickly, or like we are expecting, but it will come. When you find yourself complaining start by having some grace for yourself. Then ask if you are working on learning to trust that God will provide. Finally, search to see if God’s provisions may be coming to you in unexpected ways.

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