Thursday, March 01, 2012

120301 - Exodus 17-18 - Israelites out of Egypt, in the wilderness, testing God, teaching me

Thursday SOAP: Because their reactions are so transparently petulant and rebellious, it's easy for me to feel I would never act the same way as the Israelites who tested God over and over after He had delivered them from Egypt. But aren't they there to show me a picture (1 Corinthians 10:11, Romans 15:4) of some of the thoughts and intents (Heb. 4:12) of my own heart since I was delivered from this world? (Gal. 1:4)


S: And he called the name of the place Massah, and Meribah, because of the chiding of the children of Israel, and because they tempted the LORD, saying, Is the LORD among us, or not? (Ex 17:7).

O: This is just after the Exodus; just before the giving of the Law, and it is so named because it is a pivotal point for Israel. "Masah" means "temptation" and "Meribah" means "strife" or "contention." They challenged the Lord directly here; and this becomes a warning to never do such a thing:

And at Taberah, and at Massah, and at Kibrothhattaavah, ye provoked the LORD to wrath. (De 9:22).

Thou calledst in trouble, and I delivered thee; I answered thee in the secret place of thunder: I proved thee at the waters of Meribah. Selah. (Ps 81:7).

Harden not your heart, as in the provocation, and as in the day of temptation in the wilderness: When your fathers tempted me, proved me, and saw my work. Forty years long was I grieved with this generation, and said, It is a people that do err in their heart, and they have not known my ways: Unto whom I sware in my wrath that they should not enter into my rest. (Ps 95:8-11).

Harden not your hearts, as in the provocation, in the day of temptation in the wilderness: When your fathers tempted me, proved me, and saw my works forty years. (Heb 3:8-9).

A: As thoughtless as was Moses' plea for God to send someone else, (Exodus 4:13,, this was as much self-righteous criticism and condemnation (Ex. 17:4) as it was a request for help. If Moses' response was, at it's root, a failure in faith, this went beyond to a direct challenge. Not just to Moses, but to God Himself.

How can I apply this to myself? Sometimes bitterness and even judgment of God can rise up quickly in my own heart if I feel I'm not getting my needs met, and, frankly, I feel this same way: did you bring me here, only to abandon me? They thought they were testing God - but they were the ones on trial, and they failed the test.

"Sooner or later the believer goes through a period of disillusionment and bitterness... The Holy Spirit uses this revelation, along with what He exposes in his own heart, to teach him to abide in the Lord Jesus; safe from the sin of others, as well as his own.

"It is a part of our spiritual education to discover the fallibility of those in whom we trust. The experience can be a very painful one, but it is most necessary for us to find out that everyone else but the Lord Jesus is a failure. Sometimes He seems to take pains to bring them to notice. He never hid the failures of his disciples from the people, for he wants it clearly understood that we must place our trust in Him alone. Some Christians get offended with Him when they find that others on whom they relied are not, after all, perfect." -H. Forbes Witherby

By contrast, Jesus says, "If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink." (John 7:37) I usually think of this as an awakened thirst, a joyful search for God. But could it not also be dryness and restriction of life? I can either resent God and say I am unfulfilled and my needs are unmet - or ask Him to fulfill this promise; "For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone?" (Mt 7:8-9).
P: Lord, teach me how to better see the flesh as it rises up in me, instead of entertaining it, to freshly crucify it and abide in the Lord Jesus.


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