How often, after G_d gives us what we have been asking for, do we complain that it's just not good enough?
It sounds like the desert-wandering Hebrews act a lot like abuse victims in that they cannot trust in their relationship with God, even though God has acted mightily on their behalf in the recent past. Especially in tough situations abuse victims, too, express a need to go back to that safe place (perhaps of isolation) they're familiar with.
I read that the water in the desert is very hard. Anyone living in rural areas will know all about "hard water." The mineral deposite play havic with the pipes and sinks. If left unattended, the mineral deposites will need to be chipped away manually or with the use of acid. It has been suggested that Moses broke the hard, brittle mineral deposite that sealed the mouth of the watering hole. Whether it was or was not, the miracle is the same.
If we do not live our lives as Christ, humble (the rock of our foundation) then we become hard and brittle. Christ can chip away our hardness so that we might have life and become life-giving to others.
Just thinking about this... any thoughts? Wendy.QC
I am using this text on a Sunday I baptize 5 infants. I am thinking about verse 6, "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." and playing with the idea of God being ahead of us (prevenient grace)even as we baptize these children. God is already providing what they need to be faithful disciples of Jesus. But, the question as always is, will we trust God and live obediently so that these children will see faithful adults who trust God even in the wilderness. Just some early thoughts on the text.
I forgot to sign my contribution. Penney from Penn
Good to see the exodus froum up and running again. I just want to share that I will be using a skit I wrote on the kind of ungrateful attitude the Israelites had . . . here it is--the contemporary version:
Skit: The Ungrateful Guy
Guy entering, speaking to his wife.
Wife: Hi honey, how was work today?
Guy: Terrible, just terrible. . . you wouldnt believe it if I told you.
Wife: What honey?
Guy: I got called into the office and they told me what my raise is going to be.
Wife: You got a raise?? Well thats something to be thankful for.
Guy: Thankful, Shmankful! Its a big rip-off, thats what it is.
Wife: What on earth do you mean?
Guy: I have busted by backside for this company for 20 years and the one time I ask for a raise they give me peanuts!
Wife: Well, how much did you get?
Guy: Just a 3 % raise!! And I was expecting at least 6 %. Even my buddy Hank got at least a 4% raise at his work place. And to top it all off, my truck is going kaput! I heard some rattling noises coming from the transmission on my way home. So, now I got to get that fixed. There goes the puny little raise I got right there. Its like God is after me. Why does God pick on me? Why?
Wife: Well . . .
Guy: Well, . . . what?
Wife: Well, dont you think that youre a little hard on God? I mean other people didnt even get any raise this year. In fact, I have heard of quite a few who have been laid off. And other people dont even own a truck. So, really, you should be thankful that you have a truck. Even if it needs fixing. Its better to have a truck that needs fixing than not to have a truck at all. You should thank God for what you have and not be angry at Him for what you dont get!
Guy muttering to himself while leaving the room: What do you know, woman?
Hope this is helpful. . . . Chuck in DC (email improvements to ChuckinDC@desperatepreacher.com--before Sunday if possible!)
in ch 16, they complained about food; God gave them meat and bread. in this chapter, they complain about water; God gives it to them. no repentance, just complaints, and God gives them what they need.
then in ch 20, without even complaining, they get a lot more. they get the ten commandments. they have been fed and watered; now, God will make it possible for them to be a holy people.
grace comes first. commandments follow (more grace, of course). then, with knowledge, will the people be able to live as God wishes (and repent when they fail).
22 SEP 99
Israel journeyed by "stages"... that has grabbed me. As another mentioned, they doubted in Egypt, feared w/ backs up against the sea, complained for want of bread and meat and now "quarrelled." Their stages seem an escalation of anti-trust in leaders and, indeed, in God. On the other hand, we could say God has racheted up God's provision and grace. In Exodus God is certainly being revealed to be just such a persistent, gracious, slow-to-anger God. Don't you think our listeners can relate to "stages" in their life/faith? Peter in CA
In the wilderness, the Israelites are suffering from too little water. In North Caroliina, God's people are suffering from too much water. The question from both situations might be the same -- Are you with us, Lord? What would you preach to the "First Christian Church of Tarboro, N.C." this Sunday?
-Treading Water Spiritually
It seems to me that one of the "places" where we are most thirsty in our lives is in the area of our intimate human relationships, especially marriage. Of course, courtship would be included in an understanding of marriage. "Will God ever provide the right person for me?" Just kicking this around. What do you think?
Walter in FL
Walter in Fl. I am always nervous to single out "singles" in sermons: "when will I find the right mate?" It opens deep wounds. This was brought to my attention last Valentine's day when I spoke about partnership in relationships. The newly divorced and widowed in my congregation said it was extremely painful to have it thrown in their face.
I don't know if it is just that people are being over senistive or clergy needing to be alittle more?
Something to think about. WWM in QC
Just some early thoughts. (Its Thursday, help!). These are very disconnected and a bit contradictory! I dont normally try and tie in the three readings, but there seems to be a natural link here .... The Israelites are asking ... Is the Lord amoing us or not?
NT reading (Phil 2:1-13). What better evidence for us than Jesus. Yes the LORD came among us in person, in the person of Christ ... is the LORD among us? And how!
In the gospel ...Matt 21:23-32, the same kind of questioning goes on here that is rooted in unbelief and and unwillingness to fundamentally change from not trusting to trusting. Jesus says .. where did John's baptism come from? Moses might well have answered the questioning and troublesome people he led ... 'Where did the manna come from?' If they asnwered ... from God ... Moses would say 'Well why don't you trust him then?'
BUT, then I started to wonder, is the Old Testament reading about about a people who are basically not trusting, and disobedient??? ~Or is it about a people who are basically trusting, but having trouble with working it out (which we all do) It makes a difference because the application of the passage is radically different depending on which it is.
I tend to think at the moment that the people as described are in a place of unbelief, rather than belief, similar to the people in the gospel.
But then again ...???? I'm not sure!
I might start the sermon with the Question ... Is the LORD among us or not??
Rev Ev in UK
I really value this interaction ... but I always come to this place too early, and should do more careful study of the passage. Theres a danger for me that I jump to interpretation before I have asked the basic question, What is this passage about? What does it mean? So much as I love this place, I have be careful not to misuse it. Im looking through Fretheims commentary (Interpretation series!) and notice other scriptures to investigate. The parallel version of this story in Numbers (Num 20:2-13) ... where you get the emphasis on Moses lack of trust as well, and Ps 95 which clearly remembers this incident as a shameful one in Israels history. ... Deit 6:16, Ps 78:18, 41, 56, Ps 81:7 Ps 95:9. I was struck by the appearance of holiness in the Numbers version is v.12 .. You did not trust me enough to honour me as holy ... and v. 13 ... where he showed himself holy among them.
rev ev in UK
The writer to the Hebrews, (Heb 3.) referring to the water from the rock incident, warns the Jewish Christians about the consequences of unbelief ... that those who are unbelieving will not receive Gods promises. The unbelieving is not questioning, but a refusal to accept who Jesus is. The Israelites did not accept Moses .. and were always complaining to him ... the question for us is ... do we recognise that Jesus is the Christ ... and act in obedience to him in our lives.
Today most people believe in God .... but thats not the same as a saving faith. A saving faith is one that takes God seriously and Christ seriously. Salvation is free, but its not cheap.
Its like a child ... when a baby is born ... it invades the household with its presence, the whole family revolves around it. As it grows up and becomes more independent, he/she can look after him/her self .... can amuse him/herself etc ... it is easy for parents to spend less time with them ... stop doing things with them ... stop reading/playing with them ... I know this from experience! There is a great danger that children can become invisible to their parents in all but the basic day to day essentials of life. They are present in the family, but almost not taken account of, almost abandoned.
All too often, This is the reality about God. God is acknowledged as a presence, but not a presence that has any weight, or importance to us in reality. Like the presence of the child - we know he is there, but we have other things on our minds, and his presence does not affect our behaviour.
David Wells, in God in the Wasteland describes this as the weightlessness of God.
The Israelites tested God ... wanted God to act in accordance with their wishes and needs, rather than relying on him to meet their needs. They, (and we) can turn God into God at our mercy, rather than a God of mercy. (Wells)
rev ev in uk
Bless you and your thoughts...
Well articulated and I believe them to be true.
Rick in Va
Did the Israelites have any option other than complaining? Could they have learned to live without water?? Go ahead and complain to God. It means that there's something really important at stake. Believe that God can take your complaints. Trust the relationship. Believe that God can and will do something about your complaint. I think of how there are people whose job 8 hours a day is to 'take' complaints from customers. Not my idea of a great and noble calling. I don't think Moses liked the part of his job when he had to 'take' complaints from the community. But complaining is part of being in community. So is hearing the complaints.
For the insight that the Hebrews act like victims of abuse who are unable to trust, thank you. This makes lots of sense.
These slaves were physically out of bondage but their minds still thought like slaves. They were still dependant on the decissions of one great leader. Of course their fear is expressed as anger toward Moses. What can Moses do? Can he demand that they straighten up and stop whining? No amount of miracles will erase their fears. It will take years for the transformation of their minds from fear to faith; from slaves to covenant partners. Manzel
Hi all! This is really a late entry,but I hope a helpful one. My take on this passage tries to look beyond the miracle, beyond the complaints and focus on the questions. When we ask questions, we are struggling, growing, and striving for a deeper understanding. Many people seem to need permission to ask questions of God. If we never ask of God, how will we grow? God's ways are not our ways, so many times we do not, cannot or will not understand how God can provide for our many needs. And, although our questioning times are most difficult, they also are remembered by many as the closest times to Christ, the times when blessings poured out upon us, and the times that we came to understand God in new and wondrous ways. I will be encouraging the congregation to question - not grumble or complain - honestly in the expectation that God is with us in the wilderness as well as in the promised land. The poem by J. Wallace Hamillton suggests that we receive blessings despite the 'things' we ask for in prayer:
Sorry, I hit the wrong key!! The poem by Hamilton: "I asked God for strength that I might achieve, I was made weak that I might learn to obey. I asked for help that I might do great things, I was given infrimity that I might do better things. I asked for riches that I might be happy, I was given poverty that I might be wise. I got nothing that I asked for, but everything I hoped for; Almost despite myself, my deepest prayer was answered."
Blessings to you as you preach the Word!