The Lord answered Moses, “Go out in front of the people. Take with you some of the elders of Israel and take in your hand the staff with which you struck the Nile, and go. I will stand there before you by the rock at Horeb. Strike the rock, and water will come out of it for the people to drink.” So Moses did this in the sight of the elders of Israel. And he called the place Massah and Meribah because the Israelites quarreled and because they tested the Lord saying, “Is the Lord among us or not?” – Exodus 17:5-7 NIV
Wow this verse caught me off guard. I have to be honest the last several days of verses I have felt a bit like the Israelites stuck in the desert yearning for the arrival of the Messiah. The Israelites question says it all “Is the Lord among us or not?” Isn’t that the question that burns in all of our hearts? It certainly was one of the questions that burned in my heart when I was in college searching for a saviour. Jesus’ disciples, followers, and the religious leaders also kept asking themselves the same question. The answer for me is an emphatic “yes”, God is at the center. Do I have “dry” times when it seems like God is far away and has forgotten me, yes.
The way God resolves the Israelites grumbling issue is really interesting. He asks Moses and the leaders, who are supposed to be leading the people in a Godly way, to step forward in faith to do something that on the face of it would seem impossible – i.e. to get water from a rock. Which is more impossible – to get water from a rock or to lead a group of Christians to agree on music or worship style? The model God provides for us as Christians and Christian leaders is to be confident that the Lord is in fact among us, even when we can’t agree on every aspect of our life together. We must also not lose hope that God can do what appears to us to be the impossible.
From a scientific point of view water actually emerges from rock quite often. I have seen it many times in rural Haiti. Where artesian springs emerge from cracks and fissures in the limestone rock. The description of water coming forth at the touch of Moses’ staff would require a supernatural change in the timing of natural processes. This event would qualify as what I refer to as a “relational miracle”. Which means it affected God’s relationship with Moses, the Elders, and the Israelites. It was not simply “rough magic” to impress the Israelites.
Prayer: God help us to boldly go where conflict and uncertainty seem to reign with the confidence that you are among us and at work to achieve what seems to be impossible.SDG