“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.” (Exodus 17:1)
This sounds like a set up to me! It is said that the human body can survive longer without food than it can without water. It is not surprising to me that “the whole congregation” was upset. And it occurs to me that the Lord must have known they would be upset. So I have to wonder, what this a time of teaching for both “the congregation” and Moses?
“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?” But the people thirsted there for water; and the people complained against Moses and said, “Why did you bring us out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and livestock with thirst?” So Moses cried out to the LORD, “What shall I do with this people? They are almost ready to stone me.” (Verses 2 – 4)
It is not easy to be a leader, any more than it is to be a follower. Even after 40 years of history together, they don’t seem much to understand each other. But neither they nor Moses were alone.
“The LORD said to Moses, “Go on ahead of the people, and take some of the elders of Israel with you; take in your hand the staff with which you struck the Nile, and go. I will be standing there in front of you on the rock at Horeb. Strike the rock, and water will come out of it, so that the people may drink.” Moses did so, in the sight of the elders of Israel.” He called the place Massah and Meribah, because the Israelites quarreled and tested the LORD, saying, “Is the LORD among us or not?” (Verses 5 to 7)
Moses felt powerless in front of these people, unable to fulfill their simplest need. And the people, “the congregation” doubted that Moses and the Lord could fulfill their simplest need. How can the people of the Lord trust for the complex needs of life when they cannot trust for the simplest. Maybe that is a lesson that we all need to learn. May the Lord God set people before who lead, and tap into our simplest and deepest needs to fulfill them. Selah!