Many churches throughout the world use a Bible reading schedule called a "lectionary." It's just a fancy word meaning "selected readings." Posts like this reflect on the readings for an upcoming Sunday or other Church holiday, as found in the three-year lectionary.
Our Old Testament reading for this week is from Exodus chapter 17. In these first 17 verses we are told of one a very sad situation. God’s people have been rescued from Egypt. They have seen that God can move the people of Egypt to give them many fine gifts and send them away. They have seen that God could bring the entire nation of Israel through the waters on dry ground. They have seen the armies of Egypt drowned by the waters which parted for Israel. They then realize that they will need provision in the wilderness on their journey to the land of promise.
Looking back we would expect to trust in God. We would think that it would be relatively simple. Surely the God who promised to take us back to the place he promised our nation, and who loaded us down with riches, brought us across a body of water, and destroyed our enemies, would be able to provide us with what we need to make it across the desert in front of us. It makes perfect sense.
We forget one important thing. In times of trial we are not going to use good sense. We are going to trust our own capabilities, but we are unlikely to have a well reasoned view of our situation or of what we are able to do. When confronted with a new situation we don’t know what to do. Here the people are facing yet another hostile environment. If they were confronted by a soldier from Egypt, they would at least be able to fight back. Nobody can fight to make water appear in a desert. We don’t have the capacity to do anything in this situation.
What does God do? He provides water. He does it through his servant Moses, in plain view of the elders of Israel. The people are cared for. They know it is by God’s mercy. Yet the location is given a name indicating the strife brought on by the people’s distrust.
Even when we see God’s provision we often fail to give thanks to God. We trust only ourselves, and that trust has limits as well. Thanks be to God, he remains able to accomplish exactly what we need.
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