Greetings in the name of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
Answer me when I call to you, my righteous God. Give me relief from my distress; have mercy on me and hear my prayer. (Psalm 4:1)
The people of Israel experienced God’s hand again in wilderness of Sin. Nobody expected that they could have food in the middle of the desert. The number of the Israelites was about 2,000,000, and feeding them to their satisfaction was an impossible task to their eyes. Before this reality perceived by them, they doubted God, and they complained. They even suggested to go back to Egypt as slaves rather than dying in the middle of desert. Going back to Egypt as slaves was a logical choice for their eyes. Unfortunately, they had no faith to God, who brought out of Egypt with miracle after miracle. They were really stubborn and slow to trust God. They believed something that they could see and touch, rather than believing and trusting God, whom they could not see. Moses prayed to God, and again and again, God patiently answered and provided what was needed. Yes, God was always faithful to them. Like a loving parent, God pampered them with love.
Atthe LORD’s command, Moses made the whole community of Israel on the journey to the Promised Land again. They left the wilderness of Sin and moved from place to place. Eventually they camped at Rephidim. During the journey, they gradually forgot what God did to them. They found there was no water for the people to drink. So once more the people complained against Moses. “Give us water to drink!” they demanded.
Moses, who had been always calm before the people of complaints, was finally agitated. For this time, Quiet!” Moses replied. “Why are you complaining against me? And why are you testing the LORD?” He shouted back to the complaining Israelites. They became quite, but their calmness did not last.
Soon tormented by thirst, they started arguing with Moses. “Why did you bring us out of Egypt? Are you trying to kill us, our children, and our livestock with thirst?” The Israelites could not contain their frustration, and they continued shouting at Moses. Moses tried to make them calm down by telling “be quite, and don’t test your God, who brought you out of Egypt and made your sustain up to this far.” The people of Israel were so much tormented by thirst. Moses could not win over them. Some of them even picked up stones to throw at Moses. Moses felt danger, and quickly ran to God. Before God, Moses cried out, “What should I do with these people? They are ready to stone me!” (Exodus 17:4)
Moses cried out to God. For the first time, Moses could not bear with their lack of faith. Now, Moses became sick and tired of the Israelites. They simply did not remember God’s mighty hand and always complained. Moses heard enough. His mouth lost his affectionate word of “my people.” He called them “these people.” We all know Moses used to boldly proclaim before Pharaoh, “Let My people go.” To Moses, the people of Israel became just a bunch of people full of complains with zero faith. Moses, the most meek person on the face of the earth (Numbers 12:3), could not stand up with the people of Israel anymore. Moses was completely worn out by these people!
God said to Moses, “Walk out in front of the people. Take your staff, the one you used when you struck the water of the Nile, and call some of the elders of Israel to join you. I will stand before you on the rock at Mount Sinai. Strike the rock, and water will come gushing out. Then the people will be able to drink.” (Exodus 17:5-6a)
How did God respond to Moses?
1. “Walk out in front of the people.”
God was compassionate to Moses who was completely worn out. Moses tried his best with patience to lead the Israelites. But “these people” was rebellious to Moses. They were about to stone Moses. Moses lost all of his respect and authority before the Israelites. Yes, God saw the pain in Moses’ heart and knew what was needed for Moses — restoring Moses’ authority and respect before “these people.”
2. “Take your staff, the one you used when you struck the water of the Nile,”
God saw Moses needed His encouragement. God reminded the powerful experience in God. When Moses struck the water of the Nile, the entire Nile was turned into red blood. Moses closed his eyes. His mind suddenly moved to the very place where he struck the water of the Nile. He was even able to smell the Nile and hear the people around him, who were amazed at the God’s miracle. It was one victorious moment, and his heart truly experienced the power of the God. He was thrilled before God’s mighty finger. He knew at the moment the same almighty God was with him.
3. “call some of the elders of Israel to join you.”
God also saw Moses, whose strength was completely drained out. Moises, one single human being, had been leading the 2,000,000 people, who frequently complained for virtually all circumstances. God saw his needs of helpers. God chose helpers from the elders of Israel to join Moses.
4. “I will stand before you on the rock at Mount Sinai.”
Yes, having helpers hand-picked by God was an enormous relief for Moses by bearing together the burden of leading “these people.” However, the helpers could not replace one thing. Although they were specially chosen people by God, they were still mere human beings – fragile, being getting tired and worn out like Moses. We all know Our God is not. To Moses, what truly mattered was whether God was before him or not. God knew Moses’ heart, and God said, “I will stand before you.” What a comforting news to Moses!
5. “Strike the rock, and water will come gushing out. Then the people will be able to drink.”
As God usually did, He gave an instruction, which did not make sense at all for the eyes of those who were without faith in God. God asked Moses to strike the rock. In his absolute faith, Moses struck the rock as he was told, and water gushed out as the elders looked on. (Exodus 17:6b)
The God with Moses has not been changed at all. The same God is with us. Sometimes, we are getting weary, tired and worn out, especially while doing God’s work or following the footsteps of Jesus Christ. Everything is getting against us, and some of them speak ill of us as if they tried to stone us. Our patience becomes wearing as thin as paper. Then what can we do? Just come to God like Moses. Open our hearts, and authentically tell our problem and pain to God. God hears every word of our prayer as He did to Moses. God does not stop there. God, who could see through Moses’ heart, mercifully answered to our prayers with His infinitely goodness. God surely shows His compassion, encouragement, and helps us while standing before us as He did to Moses to protect and guide to His infinitely good will.
Therefore, let’s approach God with confidence through authentic pray in our contrite hearts. God will answer to our prayers as He did to Moses. Then also prepare for something extraordinary that only God can do, as God commanded to Moses. Do what God tells us to do. As Moses did, do not doubt, and turn into an immediate action – hitting the rock with staff as God commands. Let’s together believe in God, and do what God commands, which pleases God.
And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him. (Hebrews 11:6)