Exodus 17 is a moment where once again the people of Israel grumble against Moses and God even though they are in the midst of experiencing God’s provision. They had seen the power of God displayed over a period of time through the ten plagues, through experiencing freedom. In fact, walking out of Egypt with the wealth of Egypt in their pockets! When their backs were to the sea and the Egyptian army was in hot pursuit, the presence of God (in fact Christ!) in the pillar of fire went between them to be a covering for Israel, He spread the waters letting Israel pass and closed them around Egypt’s army ensuring that they would never again face that enemy. When they suffered from hunger, God provided manna and quail- exactly what they would need for each day and no more. And each and every time they complained, they grumbled it was in the midst of experiencing God’s provision. They questioned His goodness, they questioned the leadership that God had provided. Despite them being unable to claim any provision for themselves, despite every step of the way being a matter of God’s provision, they still lacked trust, they still lacked faith. And now that they fear death from thirst, they have the same fear that God will not provide in the very days that they are daily eating the manna from heaven. They misplace their justified concern for a real need and focus it as quarreling with Moses. It was so bad that he feared the people might kill him. And that is when God provides. The people had tested the Lord by questioning “Is the Lord amongst us or not?” So God instructed Moses to strike a certain rock, probably a large rock formation, and water poured out from it, providing for the as many as two million people. Yet that moment is remembered in a sour tone. Moses names the place “Massah and Meribah”- Test and Quarrel. The defining feeling at the end of the day wasn’t how God’s people did a 180 and recognized God’s provision. It was still just test and quarrel.
1 Corinthians 10:1–12 (NASB95) says…
1 For I do not want you to be unaware, brethren, that our fathers were all under the cloud and all passed through the sea; 2 and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea; 3 and all ate the same spiritual food; 4 and all drank the same spiritual drink, for they were drinking from a spiritual rock which followed them; and the rock was Christ.
5 Nevertheless, with most of them God was not well-pleased; for they were laid low in the wilderness. 6 Now these things happened as examples for us, so that we would not crave evil things as they also craved. 7 Do not be idolaters, as some of them were; as it is written, “The people sat down to eat and drink, and stood up to play.” 8 Nor let us act immorally, as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in one day. 9 Nor let us try the Lord, as some of them did, and were destroyed by the serpents. 10 Nor grumble, as some of them did, and were destroyed by the destroyer. 11 Now these things happened to them as an example, and they were written for our instruction, upon whom the ends of the ages have come. 12 Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed that he does not fall.
How does New Testament scripture look back on this provision? That the Rock was a picture of Christ. The undeserving, faithless people, drank freely from Christ as a type of salvation when they were in danger of dying of thirst. We are like Israel in a number of ways in this respect. First- We are undeserving of Christ and are meritless when it comes to His grace and intervention to save us. We live in Him merely becasue of His grace. Second- We need to realize that a Christless faith is dead religion. Israel still had to learn to trust God. A civil religion, moral therapeutic deism, or even so-called ‘nominal’ Christianity are each examples of dead, thristy religion that is marked by quarellsome, unredeemed people. If we are on mission and know what we are about, it is a result of overflow from Christ the Rock. When we drink freely from Christ as our provision, we want to be marked as people that are humbled by Christ’s provision, not as a quarrelsome people.
If you live in the Maple Park, Hinckley, Sugar Grove, Big Rock area and are looking for a church, I would encourage you to join us one Sunday. We are a church that encourages each other to keep our hope in Jesus. And we would like you to be a part of that too.