The Lord Gives Water
1 The Israelites left the desert and moved from one place to another each time the Lord ordered them to. Once they camped at Rephidim, but there was no water for them to drink.
2The people started complaining to Moses, “Give us some water!”
Moses replied, “Why are you complaining to me and trying to put the Lord to the test?”
3But the people were thirsty and kept on complaining, “Moses, did you bring us out of Egypt just to let us and our families and our animals die of thirst?”
4Then Moses prayed to the Lord, “What am I going to do with these people? They are about to stone me to death!”
5The Lord answered, “Take some of the leaders with you and go ahead of the rest of the people. Also take along the walking stick with which you struck the Nile River. 6When you get to the rock at Mount Sinai, I will be there with you. Strike the rock with the stick, and water will pour out for the people to drink.” Moses did this while the leaders watched.
7The people had complained and tested the Lord by asking, “Is the Lord really with us?” So Moses named that place Massah, which means “testing” and Meribah, which means “complaining.”
8When the Israelites were at Rephidim, they were attacked by the Amalekites. 9So Moses told Joshua, “Have some men ready to attack the Amalekites tomorrow. I will stand on a hilltop, holding this walking stick that has the power of God.”
10Joshua led the attack as Moses had commanded, while Moses, Aaron, and Hur stood on the hilltop. 11The Israelites out-fought the Amalekites as long as Moses held up his arms, but they started losing whenever he lowered them. 12After a while, his arms were so tired that Aaron and Hur got a rock for him to sit on. Then they stood beside him and supported his arms in the same position until sunset. 13That's how Joshua defeated the Amalekites.
14 Afterwards, the Lord said to Moses, “Write an account of this victory and read it to Joshua. I want the Amalekites to be forgotten forever.”
15Moses built an altar and named it “The Lord Gives Me Victory.” 16Then Moses explained, “This is because I depended on the Lord. But in future generations, the Lord will fight the Amalekites again and again.”
Ever wonder where God is when the roof seems to be falling in on our heads? Non believers ask this question out of scepticism but Christians ask this out of a lack of faith. We follow God, we witness for him, are obedient, yet God seems to allow severe testing. These tests cut deeply and cause many to stumble.
No matter what the Lord God did for the Israelites, when conflict came they turned on Moses and were extremely critical. They left the Desert of Sin and moved down toward Rephidim where they would face two life threatening ordeals. The Rephidim camp was not ideal. As before, the people could not survive without water and there was none.
Moses feared that they were ready to stone him because of their thirst. He informed them that their complaining was really a complaint against God. In effect, they were saying ‘Massah” or “we are testing God”. In a sense they were saying: “Lord, are you with us or against us”?
Moses was told to lead some elders ahead toward the pillar of cloud (God’s presence). There at Horeb he was to take the staff that he had used to turn the Nile River into blood and strike the mountain. Water poured out in such abundance that all the people and animals would live. God had once more supplied their needs.
The second test was new and frighteningly deadly. Armed conflict was coming to them in the form of the Amalekites who were distant cousins to the Israelites. They were nomadic descendents of Esau, the twin brother of Jacob whom God now called Israel.
At face value it would seem hopeless; they were slaves, not warriors. Moses commanded Joshua the son of Nun, his only general so to speak to select men to go and fight.
On a hill, possibly Horeb, Moses stood and then sat holding up the wooden staff. While the staff was extended Joshua prevailed and when it was let down because of weariness the battle turned against Israel. Finally, Aaron and Hur stood on either side of Moses and held up his hands till victory was gained.
God uses human means with divine power to deliver his people; the sword in Joshua’s hand and the staff in Moses’ hand. Once again divine sovereignty and human responsibility were necessary in obedience to the will of God.
Lord, may we remember that you are always for us, especially in times of testing. When we are weary, help us to turn to you for strength and to our brothers and sisters in Christ. There are times where we need others to “hold up our arms” when we are battle weary. May your strength be perfected in our weakness. To you be the glory.