Welcome to our BONUS POST-EASTER WEEK of Daily Devotions!
Our last devotion for this year will be this coming Saturday.
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 Rephidim; but there was no water for the people to drink. 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?” 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?” So Moses cried to the Lord, “What shall I do with this people? They are almost ready to stone me.” 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. 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. And he called the name of the place Massah, and Meribah, 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?”
The Bible is full of stories of miraculous events, but it is also filled with tales of the adventures of ordinary people with all-too-human sentiments and behavior. I never cease to be amazed by how often the authors of the texts we encounter in both the Old and New Testaments matter-of-factly reveal the moral and spiritual shortcomings of the very people those texts identify as God’s chosen ones. This is surely true of the portrait of the Israelites in the Old Testament, and nowhere is it more evident than in the story of their journey through the wilderness after having been liberated from slavery in Egypt. From a practical point of view one can understand well the complaints they kept making all through that experience, but their inability to stop complaining is hardly endearing. Yet the mindset it reveals was the material out of which the people of Israel was formed. For all their small-minded bickering, in the end they came together enough to be and do what God had in mind. They were not perfect by any means, and their faults could well have destroyed them. But that did not happen. Through God’s providence they not only survived the wilderness experience but became one of the most enduring (and consequential) of all the peoples that have inhabited the earth. Surely that is something worth remembering—and taking comfort from—whenever we run into difficulties in our own life together.
Lord, you know our faults and limitations better than we ourselves do. But we know you are not limited by those faults and limitations, and we are confident that if you are so inclined, you are capable of making more of our efforts than anything we might believe possible. We ask that you would take us as we now are and mold us into what you would have us be. Amen.