We are now at week seven of our journey through Exodus
And this week we are looking at water from the rock, last week it was mamma from heaven and this week we continue the journey and look at what happened when the Israelites were traveling through the desert.
But first let’s pray.
Open our ears, O Lord, to hear your word and know your voice.
Speak to our hearts and strengthen our wills, that we may have soft hearts and open ears for your word.
And may my words be your words not my own, Amen
So, Moses has been chosen by God and after he struggled to get out of the job, he Moses is told that in effect God is going to give Pharaoh a hard time and really wind him up until his hard hart breaks, in the end Pharaoh said you and your people can go, and the people are free of their slavery, then Pharaoh changes his mind the Israelites lose their faith but God rescues them and Pharaoh and loses his army in the red sea. So, exit stage left Pharaoh. Then the bits we jumped were the song of Moses and Miriam, which is a praise song to God, but after three days in the desert the people start to grumble yet again, because they have nothing to drink, it’s a far point, and God does another miracle by having Moses throw a piece of wood into a water sources that had only bitter water in it, and the water became fit to drink.
We read in exodus 15:26 it says “There the Lord issued a ruling and instruction for them and put them to the test. 26 He said, “If you listen carefully to the Lord your God and do what is right in his eyes, if you pay attention to his commands and keep all his decrees, I will not bring on you any of the diseases I brought on the Egyptians, for I am the Lord, who heals you.”
So God is saying do right by me and I will protect you. 27 Then they came to Elim, where there were twelve springs and seventy palm trees, and they camped there near the water. So then they moved on into the desert that was called Sin which many schoolers believe to be south eastern Sinai, and again the Bible tells us that the whole community grumbled, because they had no food, so we read in chapter 16 verse 6 Moses says “In the evening you will know that it was the Lord who brought you out of Egypt, 7 and in the morning you will see the glory of the Lord, because he has heard your grumbling against him. Who are we, that you should grumble against us?” 8 Moses also said, “You will know that it was the Lord when he gives you meat to eat in the evening and all the bread you want in the morning. God’s grace, Gods love to a grumbling ungrateful people.
So now we are up to date.
In our reading Chapter 17: verse 1- it says “The whole Israelite community set out from the Desert of Sin, traveling from place to place as the Lord commanded. They camped at Rephidim, but there was no water for the people to drink. 2 So they quarrelled with Moses and said, “Give us water to drink.” Moses replied, “Why do you quarrel with me? Why do you put the Lord to the test?”
Here they go again grumbling quarrelling with Moses, it shows a total lack of faith in the Lord God. God has a plan read the old testament and you can see the plan for Jesus coming. God has a plan, we also need to trust in God not grumble and try to do things in our own way.
I was reminded the other week of the Chilean miner’s story and what they did when left with no other choices.
So, just a quick re-cap on the story.
In 2010 “Chilean mining accident”, began on Thursday, 5 August with a cave-in at a copper–gold mine. Thirty-three men, trapped 700 meters (2,300 ft) underground and 5 kilometres (3 mi) from the mine’s entrance via spiralling underground ramps, were rescued after 69 days. A great story of human hope and endurance, but when the men realised that they could not get out what did they do they turned to the one person in the group that they know was a true Christian and asked him to pray, he prayed and they prayed with him and they prayed every day, it took 17 days for them to be found by a small bore hole, 17 days of praying for God to do something with lets face it no hope but God.
Lots of different agencies and corporations from around the world cooperated completing the rescue. On 13 October that’s 69 days, the men were winched to the surface one at a time, in a specially built capsule, as an estimated 1 billion people worldwide watched. With few exceptions all were in good medical condition with no long-term physical effects anticipated. And for me most importantly 22 of those men who no doubt were all baptised as infants gave there life to Jesus and will now spend eternity with Him.
So, in our reading it is worth noting that the people do not complain directly against the Lord, but only against Moses. But Moses interprets the complaint against himself as a complaint against God. He says, “Why do you quarrel with me? Why do you test the Lord?”. Well we know why, they wanted someone to blame. They were thirsty. A human body can survive a surprisingly long time without food. But only a short time without water. The source of their complaint is perfectly reasonable.
It is the way they deal with the problem that is the issue.
It is their lack of faith and their lack of worship to God, and the way that they turn on Moses-who has just been the “means of grace” through which God had delivered them from slavery and fed them with manna and quails, and Moses is honest with them he tells them why do you quarrel with me, I did not make you come, it is the way they are dealing with the problem that is the problem. This lack of faith in God and His plan that is the problem.
Moses responds to the complaint of the people with a complaint of his own, this one directed to God: “What shall I do with this people? They are almost ready to stone me” (v. 4). On Moses’ behalf, we can add a few more words, “What shall I do with this people that you gave me-and just remember, I was happy leading sheep rather than these people”. Moses and the people are in desperate situations of crisis. Moses turns to the Lord the people turn on Moses.
Both face life-and-death situations; the people think they may die thirst, while Moses thinks he may die at the hands of the people. So Moses go’s to God and we read in verse 7 that the people said, “IS the Lord among us or not?” The people dout God. It is easy to let a situations of crisis break down a community, or cause a community or “neighbours” to turn on one another.
So, the people demand water. And then there is God’s response. God graciously and faithfully responds not to the people’s typical lack of faith, but to their individual human needs. Because God is faithful, God responds out of grace and love.
Moreover, God does so in a manner that provides not simply for the physical need, but in a way that restores the community! Earlier, working through Moses, God had caused bread which normally grows out of the ground and has to go through serval process to rain down from heaven. Here, working through Moses, God causes water, which often rains down from heaven to spring forth from a rock that had no sing of water coming from it. By working through Moses, the community is restored even as the people’s bodily needs are met.
This reading shows human nature, you can see that the story does not simply tell of an episode from Israel’s past, but bears witness to the characteristic nature of life and of relationship with God. It is not just the people of Israel who were lacking in faith, who do not give God the worship he deserves. It is all of us. It is not just the people of Israel whose community was threatened by their unfaithfulness.
It is true of our communities, too. It is not merely the Israelites who complained forgetting Gods plan not trusting in God.
We do also, so can we complain to God, yes, we can in the right way, Psalm 142 says, I cry aloud to the Lord; I lift up my voice to the Lord for mercy. 2 I pour out before him my complaint; before him I tell my trouble. 3 When my spirit grows faint within me, it is you [O Lord] who watch over my way. So, we can complain as long as we recognise God’s sovereignty.
Above all, our reading bears witness to the faithfulness and grace of God.
So remember what we read earlier, from Exodus 15:25 God said “If you listen carefully to the Lord your God and do what is right in his eyes, if you pay attention to his commands and keep all his decrees, I will not bring on you any of the diseases I brought on the Egyptians, for I am the Lord, who heals you.” So, God is saying do right by me and I will protect you. WE CAN’T DO IT WE CAN’T DO RIGHT AND GOD KNOWS THAT, THAT IS WHY JESUS CAME TO PAY THE PRICE – WHY BECAUSE OF GOD’S LOVE FOR US HE DOES NOT WANT TO LOSE US.
Gods people went on to set up rules to try to honour God. Rules that people put up to try and do right by him and he watched those same people break those rules and others, it’s the same today we put rules before worship, Nick Fawcett asks the question “has your faith become over-complicated? Have you lost sight of the essentials of Christian worship, allowing yourself to become side-tracked”.
Jesus left us with five commandments
- “Love the Lord your God with all your heart,
- Love your neighbour as yourself”
- “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations,
- baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,
- and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you”.
Rules in how to do church are manmade. Jesus never said there is this right way and this wrong way, we should worship God with our whole heart. Some people put rules and things before worshiping God they put the God of what I like before God, they don’t trust that God knows best just like the Israelites, some people put the god of me before the one true God.
Two years ago at the end of a service in St Pauls cathedral I saw about twenty straight laced Bishops and the Arch Bishop dance down the isle of that cathedral, so is it God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit you are worshiping or something else.
Why do you come to church it should be to worship God?
Worship is not the slow song that the choir sings. Worship is not the fast song a band sings. Worship is not the amount you place in the offering basket. Worship is not volunteering to do a job or jobs in church. Yes, these may be acts or expressions of worship, but they do not define what true worship really is. There are many descriptions of the word worship. Yet, one summarises the priority we should give to worship as a spiritual discipline: Worship is to honour with extravagant love and extreme submission (Webster’s Dictionary,1828).
True worship, in other words, is defined by the importance we place on who God is in our lives and where God is on our list of priorities. Is God first do you talk with God through prayer every day do you talk to him during the day, if you love someone you want to talk to them. True worship is a matter of the heart expressed through a lifestyle of closeness with God. If your lifestyle does not express the beauty of holiness through an extravagant or exaggerated love for God, and you do not live in extreme or excessive submission to God, then I invite you to make worship of God a non-negotiable priority in your life.
We should worship God because he is God. End off. Our extravagant love and extreme submission to the Trinity should flow out of the reality that God loved us first. It is highly appropriate to thank God for all the things he has done for us. However, true worship is shallow if it is solely an acknowledgement of God’s wealth. Psalm 96:5-6 says, “For all the gods of the nations are idols, but the LORD made the heavens. Splendour and majesty are before him; strength and glory are in his sanctuary.” In other words, our worship must be toward the one who is worthy. We must focus our practice of worship on the worthiness of God and not on other stuff.
Psalm 51:15 says
Open my lips, Lord, and my mouth will declare your praise.
16 You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings.
17 My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you”.
We are not worthy, but God loves us, lets show that love back, Jesus went to the cross to save us, lets show our worship to God and only God not to things or rules and let us trust in God’s plan not our own.
Gracious God teach me to offer the worship you desire, to put my faith in you alone.
In Jesus name I pray.