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Before Exodus 15 – Salvation & Baptism
- The last plague (Passover) and Deliverance from Egypt represents our salvation where blood is shed to redeem us from this world
- Egypt represents to us the slavery to sin under the rule of the Enemy of God (Satan). In type and picture, Egypt contains all the things of “this world” that can keep us away from God.
- Crossing the Red Sea represents our baptism experiencing the death and resurrection of Christ including the very real defeat of the Enemy of God through the symbolic act of baptism.
Exodus 15 – Healing & Strengthening
- The Song of Moses and celebration of Miriam represent a kind of “honeymoon” period after our salvation.
- The bitter waters of Marah represent the things in us that need healing from our past experiences in the world. God establishes that listening to His voice and following the leading of His voice.
- The time at Elim represents the strengthening we need for our journey ahead in the wilderness.
Exodus 16 – Eat Healthy
- God gives the manna with instruction on how it is to be handled and partaken of by the children of Israel. The manna represents our portion of God’s Word. It is our spiritual “daily bread” which is given by God from heaven for us to gather and “eat”.
We’re Thirsty! Again?
The children of Israel have been watered and fed. However, they continue on and they find they are thirsty again. The manna was given as a daily supply, but the water at Marah and Elim in chapter 15 were not described as a daily supply. So, again, they thirst.
We find an interesting change here in chapter 17. In the last two chapters, we see that God is testing the children of Israel. Starting here in chapter 17, the children of Israel begin to test God. In addition, the children of Israel quarrel with Moses.
1 And all the community of the Israelites set out from the desert of Sin for their journeys according to the command of Yahweh, and they camped in Rephidim, and there was no water for the people to drink. 2 And the people quarreled with Moses, and they said, “Give us water so that we can drink.” And Moses said to them, “Why do you quarrel with me? Why do you test Yahweh?” 3 And the people thirsted for water, and the people grumbled against Moses and said, “Why ever did you bring us up from Egypt to kill me and my sons and my cattle with thirst?”Exodus 17:1–3 (LEB)
The quarreling indicates they are getting a bit more anxious and bothered with the whole process. Moses recognizes they are getting more anxious and upset than the previous instances. God has already made it clear that He knows their need and has provision fro them, but this doesn’t seem to have helped their attitude. In fact, their attitude has worsened even after they have experienced His miraculous deliverance and provision for them. They do not come to Moses with a request. They come in upset and ready for a fight with Moses.
4 And Moses cried out to Yahweh, saying, “What will I do with this people? A little longer and they will stone me.”Exodus 17:4 (LEB)
Again, Moses shows us the right way. He turns and cries out to God. Each time there is a need. Throughout their forty years in the wilderness, each time there is a new situation, Moses will demonstrate this behavior. He turns to God as the solution. This is a good example for us today.
Water from a Rock?
This brings us to God’s solution. He has a supply of water to satisfy them for their entire journey in the wilderness. It is not a one time supply. It is an ongoing supply from a miraculous source.
5 And Yahweh said to Moses, “Go on before the people and take with you some from the elders of Israel, and the staff with which you struck the Nile take in your hand, and go. 6 Look, I will be standing before you there on the rock in Horeb, and you will strike the rock, and water will come out from it, and the people will drink.” And Moses did so before the eyes of the elders of Israel. 7 And he called the name of the place Massah and Meribah because of the quarrel of the Israelites and because of their testing Yahweh by saying, “Is Yahweh in our midst or not?”Exodus 17:5–7 (LEB)
It may not be apparent from Exodus 17:5-7 that there was an ongoing supply. Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 10 that the rock was a spiritual rock from which they drank water and that the rock was Jesus Christ.
4 and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank from the spiritual rock that followed them, and the rock was Christ.1 Corinthians 10:4 (LEB)
There are two points to consider from this picture and two major applications to our lives.
First, there is a rock which is Christ which must be struck. It must only be struck one time. Jesus Christ does not need to die on the cross twice. One death by Him is enough. 🙂
There is another point in closing. The rock follows us throughout our journey in the wilderness (our entire life on earth)
Water as the Refreshing Presence of God in Us
I wrote most of this series about “the right way” a few years ago. When I reached Exodus 17 and the Rock with water I realized that I wasn’t prepared to write about it. Conceptually, I understood what I wanted to say, but I had to stop take a brief personal inventory and acknowledge that I could not speak on this subject properly. So, this item stay in a draft status for over two years.
Today, I can speak on this subject. What I knew conceptually became a full and present reality in my life. I had some experience of it, but not to the extent that I have had for the past few years.
In the natural sense, we know what it is like to eat food without water. It isn’t great. Think about eating a bunch of crackers without water. That is just about what it was like to eat manna without water. There is a need for water to help with our eating and for the refreshing it brings to our bodies.
It is the same in the spiritual sense, partaking (i.e. eating) of the Word of God (i.e. the manna) without something to help with our eating and without refreshment becomes a problem. We know from Paul that the “rock” in this passage was Christ. The water itself is the flow of the Holy Spirit into our lives as we interact with the Word of God in a conversation with Him. Without the Holy Spirit, the experience of the Word of God becomes a very dry piece of bread. After a little while, you don’t want anymore bread. However, with a little water more bread is nice.
Through the Holy Spirit in us we are able to experience the presence of God in our hearts, our minds and our lives. This is truly a refreshing experience. Dead words on a page become a life-giving source of encouragement, instruction, exhortation among other things.
What I am sharing here is confirmed in this passage and in other places in the Word of God. It is also confirmed in my experience of walking with the Lord over the years.
There is a long held difference in view among protestant christians regarding the role of the Word of God and the role of the Holy Spirit in our lives. The two views are not polar opposites. It is more of a matter of emphasis where individual christians end up on a continuum somewhere between two things:
- The Word of God as most important
- The Holy Spirit as most important
Being a more analytical type of person I used to think about this quite a bit. I could see in various churches how the was more or less emphasis on the Word and/or the Holy Spirit as it related to the practical experience of believers. I ended up with a question that I pondered for a while (maybe a few years).
Question: What is the right balance or emphasis between the Word of God and the Holy Spirit when it comes to our daily walk with the Lord and our daily experience.
At some point after I arrived at this question, I was interacting with some other individuals and the subject of finding the right balance came up. One of the people I was interacting with gave an answer that rang true and I have had a resounding “amen!” ever since.
Answer: We need 100% of both.
Lord, I want to know you and to learn from your Word. I want to eat healthy food every day, but I also need to be refreshed from time to time. Please give me a drink and refreshment when I need it. I am asking for this individually and alongside others who are walking this same walk as I am. I know the Bible says that I should be filled by your Holy Spirit and I know that this water in Exodus 17 is referring to your Holy Spirit. So, I am asking you to fill me with your Spirit as drink, as refreshment and as encouragement to continue on in my spiritual life. I thank you in advance even if I do not know exactly how this works, I am trusting in You. I know that You know how it all works and I am only asking for refreshment from You alone. I do not want any other source of refreshment.
A. Layman’s Prayer