“From the wilderness of Sin the whole congregation of the Israelites journeyed by stages, as the LORD commanded. They camped at Rephidim, but there was no water for the people to drink. The people quarreled with Moses, and said, “Give us water to drink.” Moses said to them, “Why do you quarrel with me? Why do you test the LORD?” (Exodus 17:1 – 2)
Why are the two mentioned in one statement? Quarreling with Moses and testing the Lord? And I found the answer. Moses (according to the biblical commentators) says that it was the Pillar of Fire (the leading of Yahweh) that lead them to this water-less place. Moses, therefore claims, he did not lead them here, but the Lord God did. So he rejects their complaint to him, and (again according to the biblical commentators) chides them for not trusting in the Lord God who lead them out of Egypt. I imagine it is like a congregation arguing with their minister or pastor. If such a thing were to happen!! (Please read between the lines for the mock surprise!)
“But the people thirsted there for water; and the people complained against Moses and said, “Why did you bring us out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and livestock with thirst?” So Moses cried out to the LORD, “What shall I do with this people? They are almost ready to stone me.” (Verses 3 – 4)
The biblical commentators take the position that the Israelites should have had more trust in the Lord God considering all miracles that had gotten them this far. I find it interesting that the biblical commentators don’t critique Moses. Could he not have concern for them; and might he also have had concern about his own need for water? And if he was so reassured about his own needs, could he have not shared his assurance instead of complaining to the Lord God? Often, beloved reader, difficulties in church life are as much a test and learning experience for the congregation as it is for the church leadership.
I find this to be a good story for the journey of Lent. And good to think about ministerial leadership – what it should be like, how the faith circle should interact with their leaders, what good leaders can do for believers corporately, and what the relationship between church leader and the Divine should be like.
“The LORD said to Moses, “Go on ahead of the people, and take some of the elders of Israel with you; take in your hand the staff with which you struck the Nile, and go. 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.” Moses did so, in the sight of the elders of Israel. He called the place Massah and Meribah, because the Israelites quarreled and tested the LORD, saying, “Is the LORD among us or not?” (Verses 5 – 7)
are you doing in your Lenten journey beloved reader? The third week
of Lent is sort of the mid-point. Far enough along that you would
not/could not go back. But still having a fair trek ahead of you. You
may want to lift up to the Divine the leaders who give guidance to
your faith circle, and to others who have or are giving direction to
your faith journey. There are still lessons to be learned along the
way. Both for you and those who shepherd your faith life. Selah!