Exodus 17

Is God with us, or not?

“He named the place Massah (Testing-Place) and Meribah (Quarreling) because of the quarreling of the Israelites and because of their testing of GOD when they said, “Is GOD here with us, or not? Exodus 17:7 MSG

That’s the question we all ask, isn’t it? Is God with me, or not? When we encounter a difficult situation or circumstance, we almost always question where God could be in the midst of it all. We want to know how He could let something like this happen to us. All we see is the difficulty. But we don’t see God. Yet, time and time again, He had proven His presence to the people of Israel, and He has done so with us. But how quick we are to question His presence.

This was not the first time the people had found themselves without water. And they shouldn’t have been surprised either – they were in a wilderness reason for crying out loud. Water was not going to be in abundance. They were always going to be finding themselves in need of water. But they had God on their side. He would provide. And He had provided. At Marah, He turned the bitter water sweet (Exodus 15:23-25). He then led them to the 12 springs of water at Elim (Exodus 15:27). In the wilderness of Sin, He provided them with manna and quail (Exodus 16). But at their next stop, they found themselves lacking water again. They faced another trial. So what did they do? Trust God? No, they complained to Moses and Aaron. They demanded that they give them water. God had proven His willingness and ability to provide for them, but instead of trusting and turning to Him, they turned on Moses and Aaron.

“But the people were very thirsty there for water” (Exodus 17:3 NET). They were driven by their desires. They were controlled by their physical appetites and urges. They were very thirsty. Thirst is a result of need. It is a sign of something lacking. But what the people of Israel really lacked could never be quenched by water. They would thirst again. Which reminds me of the words of Jesus to the woman at the well. “Everyone who drinks of this water will thirst again; but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life” (John 4:13-14 NASB). God wanted to quench their thirst, but not just their physical thirst. He wanted to satisfy their insatiable thirst for satisfaction, peace, contentment, and joy. They were stuck between Egypt and the Promised Land. They were in the wilderness and wanted to either go “home” to Egypt or hurry up and get to where they were going. Yet God was all about meeting their needs and being their provider – even in the midst of the trials of the wilderness. God wants to meet us in our wilderness as well. He wants to prove Himself as the great provider right in the midst of the trial. But we have to trust Him – even when we can’t see Him. He is there.

God provided yet again. He had Moses take his rod and strike a rock and from it came a life-giving flow of water. “I will meet you by the rock at Mount Sinai. Strike the rock, and water will come pouring out. Then the people will be able to drink” (Exodus 17:6 NLT). Paul would later reveal the significance of this miracle. The rock was symbolic of Christ. “For they all drank from the miraculous rock that traveled with them, and that rock was Christ” (1 Corinthians 10:4 NLT). When Moses struck the rock, it gave forth life-giving water. When Jesus was stricken and beaten, crucified and killed – from His body came the water of eternal life. Jesus Himself was sustaining the people of Israel even then. He was giving life to all who would drink. He was providing them with what they needed to live in the middle of a wilderness. We have the same thing from Him today. He gives us life so that we might live – even in the middle of a sin-filled, Satan-controlled world. But when we find ourselves thirsty and in need, will we ask, “Is God with us, or not?” Or will we remember all that He has done? Will we remember His faithfulness? Will we trust Him and turn to Him?

Father, You struck Your own Son so that I might have life. You have provided for me in ways that I can’t even fully understand, but I still doubt You and test You. I question Your presence? Open my eyes so that I might see You more clearly. Continue to patiently remind me of all You have done. You are the God who provides and I have no reason to doubt You. Amen.

Ken Miller
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men