Remembering the Passover & Exodus: a selection of passages & meditations
"They put the LORD to the proof by saying, "Is the LORD among us or not?"

Scripture: Exodus 17:1-16

1 All the congregation of the people of Israel moved on from the wilderness of Sin by stages, according to the commandment of the LORD, and camped at Reph'idim; but there was no water for the people to drink. 2 Therefore the people found fault with Moses, and said, "Give us water to drink."

And Moses said to them, "Why do you find fault with me? Why do you put the LORD to the proof?" 3 But the people thirsted there for water, and the people murmured against Moses, and said, "Why did you bring us up out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and our cattle with thirst?"

4 So Moses cried to the LORD, "What shall I do with this people? They are almost ready to stone me." 5 And the LORD said to Moses, "Pass on before the people, taking with you some of the elders of Israel; and take in your hand the rod with which you struck the Nile, and go. 6 Behold, I will stand before you there on the rock at Horeb; and you shall strike the rock, and water shall come out of it, that the people may drink." And Moses did so, in the sight of the elders of Israel. 7 And he called the name of the place Massah and Mer'ibah, because of the faultfinding of the children of Israel, and because they put the LORD to the proof by saying, "Is the LORD among us or not?"

8 Then came Am'alek and fought with Israel at Reph'idim. 9 And Moses said to Joshua, "Choose for us men, and go out, fight with Am'alek; tomorrow I will stand on the top of the hill with the rod of God in my hand." 10 So Joshua did as Moses told him, and fought with Am'alek; and Moses, Aaron, and Hur went up to the top of the hill. 11 Whenever Moses held up his hand, Israel prevailed; and whenever he lowered his hand, Am'alek prevailed. 12 But Moses' hands grew weary; so they took a stone and put it under him, and he sat upon it, and Aaron and Hur held up his hands, one on one side, and the other on the other side; so his hands were steady until the going down of the sun.

13 And Joshua mowed down Am'alek and his people with the edge of the sword. 14 And the LORD said to Moses, "Write this as a memorial in a book and recite it in the ears of Joshua, that I will utterly blot out the remembrance of Am'alek from under heaven." 15 And Moses built an altar and called the name of it, The LORD is my banner, 16 saying, "A hand upon the banner of the LORD! The LORD will have war with Am'alek from generation to generation."

Meditation: The Israelites were put to the test at Rephidim in a two-fold manner. First, they had no water, and second, they were attacked by the Amalekites. Deprivation of water in an arid desert results in excruciating thirst, leads to delirium, and then to death. The Israelites were ready to stone Moses, their deliverer! "Why did you bring us up out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and our cattle with thirst?" Instead of humbly turning to God in their need for water, the people complained and blamed their leader for their problems. How often do we do the same when problems upset us? Moses could have resented the people's complaints against him and asked God for punishment. Instead, he pleads with the Lord for mercy and help for his people. His concern is not for himself but for his people and their welfare. When others bother you or cause you pain, do you treat them in the same kind, or do you plead with the Lord to show them kindness and mercy?

Through Moses' intervention God miraculously supplied them with abundant water. Paul the Apostles identifies the source of this life-giving rock in the desert: he states that all drank from the spiritual rock that followed them as they went, and that rock was Christ (1 Cor. 10:1-40). The scriptures allude to God as a Rock of strength, refuge, refreshment, rest and salvation for his people (see Deut. 32:4, 15,18; Psalm 62:5-; Isaiah 32:27).

The Lord Jesus is the rock of our salvation who had to be struck so that the living waters of divine life might flow abundantly for all thirsty souls (see John 19:34). The smiting of the rock points to Jesus' death on the cross and to the blood which flowed from his pierced side (Isaiah 534-5). If any man is thirsty, let him come to me! Let the man come and drink who believes in me! As scripture says, ‘From his breast shall flow fountains of living water' (John 7:27-38).

Moses named this place Massah (which means trial) and Meribah (which means contention) because the people put the Lord to the test (Is God with us or not?) and because of their contention with Moses. God responded with incredible goodness and mercy. Consider the Lord's mercy and goodness in your own life. Do you thank him for his goodness and generosity? Do you treat others, especially those who cross you, with goodness and mercy?

In the second test at Rephidim the Israelites find themselves under spiritual attack. Moses' response is to fight with prayer and sword. As long as Moses' intercedes on behalf of his people, Joshua and his armed men are able to rout the Amalekites. When Moses relaxes his warfare prayers, the Amalekites gain the upper hand. It is only when others support Moses in his spiritual warfare that the Israelites are able to completely rout the Amalekites.

Paul in his treatise on spiritual warfare (1 Cor. 6:10-17) tells us that we must fight against spiritual strongholds with the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God (1 Cor. 10:17). What spiritual battles are you engaged in? Do you fight with spiritual weapons and with confidence in God's help and victory?

"Lord Jesus Christ, you are the Rock of my salvation and my deliverer. Help me to be alert to the attacks of the evil one and to be on guard in temptation. May your word be my sword in battle that I may not succumb to sin and unbelief."

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(c) 1999, 2001, 2002 Don Schwager