Word of Encouragement (08/02/2022)
And he called the name of the place Massah and Meribah, because of the quarreling of the people of Israel, and because they tested the LORD by saying, “Is the LORD among us or not?” (Ex. 17:7)
Incredibly, when the Israelites got to Massah and Meribah, they complained to Moses the same way as they did before, this time about water, not about food: “Give us water to drink.... Why did you bring us up out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and our livestock with thirst” (Ex. 17:2)? They demanded what they lacked. And they accused Moses (and therefore God) of bringing them out of Egypt only to kill them. This they did after they experienced God’s miraculous provision of food with manna and quails. Since we dealt with the same type of prayer in the previous reflections, we will not deal with the ones in this chapter. However, we hear something new about their “prayer” in v. 7: “Is the LORD among us or not?”
This reveals something interesting going on with the Israelites. They were not atheists. How could they be? They had witnessed so many miracles that they could not deny the existence of God even though they could not see Him. We are not meant to know God by sight. For God “dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see” (1 Tim. 6:16). If so, when God “appeared” to His people, what they saw was not God in Himself but some forms that He had taken up temporarily to represent His presence. What form God took had a lot to do with the message He wanted to convey to His people. We cannot deny that there is something special about the “theophanies” (i.e., the so-called “appearances” of God). But coming to know God through His creation is essentially the same dynamic: “For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made” (Rom. 1:20).
The Israelites had come to know God through all the miracles. But that was not all. These miracles were accompanied by God’s word given through Moses, without which they could not know the true meaning of these incredible occurrences. Of course, to truly know someone is more than just knowing some, or a lot of, facts about him; it requires trust as well. For whatever reason (which is ultimately due to their sin-corrupted hearts), the Israelites could not trust God despite all that God had done for them. They knew the fact that God was almighty, but they did not trust Him enough to submit to Him and know that He would take care of them.
This is the same kind of problem many Christians face, isn’t it? Maybe this is what you are going through now, too. I’m certain that you know so much more about God than the Israelites of old. You may not have witnessed the kind of miracles that they had witnessed. But have you not experienced God’s gracious hand of providence over and over again? “Through many dangers, toils and snares / I have already come. / T’was grace that brought me safe thus far / And grace will lead me home.” And what miracle is greater than the miracle of the incarnation of the Son of God and His death and resurrection, by which we have received our eternal salvation? What more does God have to do for you to trust Him? May the Lord bring to your heart the recollection of His great and mighty deeds for your salvation and your sustenance! And may you find Him worthy of your complete trust, whatever you may be going through!