And all the congregation of the children of Israel journeyed from the wilderness of Sin, after their journeys, according to the commandment of the LORD, and pitched in Rephidim: and there was no water for the people to drink. (Exodus 17:1)
In Medlock Hollow, when I turned 8, I was privileged to let down a bucket, much like this one, into a hand-dug well to bring up fresh water for drinking and cooking. The bucket had a 3” piece of pipe fastened at the top on one side so that when the bucket hit the water in the well, the bucket would turn over and fill with water. The bucket was drawn up with a windless rope and crank and emptied into another (nicer) bucket to be carried into the house.
When the house bucket went dry, we had to go to the well and refill it. Our well was dug before the Civil War. A big slab of sandstone had been dragged there with mules and a 36” round hole chiseled in the middle of it for accessing the well. The slab prevented surface water from running into the well and polluting it.
THE EMPTY BUCKET PICTURES OUR LIVES WHEN WE RUN DRY. We could always go to the well and refill the bucket because the well never ran dry, even in a time of drought. Even so, we need to be refilled with the Holy Spirit many times in our lives. We are baptized by the Spirit into the Body of Christ one time (1Corinthians 12:13), but filled with the Spirit many times (Ephesians 5:18).
THE OLD TESTAMENT IS THE LARGER HALF OF OUR BIBLE because it is the foundation of the New Testament and because we are to learn from it. Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples (examples) and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come. (1Corinthians 10:11)
THE BIBLE MENTIONS WATER 396 TIMES. After our need to breathe, our most intense need is water. God teaches us about our spiritual life by studying “water” in the Bible.
The people ran out of water while they were following the commandment of the Lord. (Exodus 17:1) There’s no mention of any sin or anything displeasing to the Lord. However, this experience was a trial of their faith and it resulted in their murmuring and complaining, which was a bad sin against God.
THIS IS IMPORTANT: At times, we may expect to experience a shortage of the most needed things while we are obeying the Lord. Our faith may be tried. How are we going to react to the trying of our faith? By running out of water, the intensity of their personal need was increased. It is hard for us to advance in faith in the midst of plenty. Paul said he had learned, by faith, to suffer need. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: everywhere and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. (Philippians 4:12)
THEN PAUL INSERTS THAT FAMOUS VERSE THAT IS OFTEN QUOTED OUT OF CONTEXT: I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me. (Philippians 4:13) Paul, what kind of things can you do through Christ? Paul said that through Christ he could be full, and he could be hungry, to abound and to suffer need. He could do ALL of those things through Christ.
It doesn’t seem like it would bring glory to God to claim that one could suffer need and be hungry “by the power of Christ.” But, that is exactly what he is saying. Christians in Africa and other countries have dug up roots and worms because there was no food. Some Christians have been locked up in their churches and burned up with the burning buildings. They died in faith.
And others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment: They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented; (Of whom the world was not worthy:) they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth. And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise: (Hebrews 11:36-39)
When God is going to display His power, He sometimes will increase our difficulties before He moves His hand. He increased the difficulties of the Hebrew brick makers in Egypt before He delivered them from their hardships. No straw was provided for their bricks, but they still had to produce the same number of bricks per day. Ye shall no more give the people straw to make brick, as heretofore: let them go and gather straw for themselves. (Exodus 5:7)
Abraham sent Hagar and her son (also the son of Abraham) into the wilderness with a bottle of water. That was sufficient for the first part of her wandering. It was the best she could do. She had been sent away by the authority in her life: by Abraham. And in obedience to that authority, the water ran out.
And the water was spent in the bottle, and she cast the child under one of the shrubs. And she went, and sat her down over against him a good way off, as it were a bowshot: for she said, Let me not see the death of the child. And she sat over against him, and lift up her voice, and wept. And God heard the voice of the lad; and the angel of God called to Hagar out of heaven, and said unto her, What aileth thee, Hagar? fear not; for God hath heard the voice of the lad where he is. (Gen 21:15-17)
Please study this carefully. Hagar seemed to be carrying the sole weight of their plight. The text records her words, her voice, her weeping. And yet, God heard the voice of the lad. No mention is made of God hearing the mother’s words. Though she lifted up her voice, she may not have lifted her voice to God. She may have wailed in despair without reaching out to God.
On the other hand, God heard the voice of the lad. The angel begins speaking to Hagar and says: “What aileth thee, Hagar?” There is no mention by the angel that Hagar had prayed to the Lord. The angel said to Hagar: “Fear not; for God hath heard the voice of the lad where he is.”
Did the lad pray to God and his mother did not? It seems that may be the case. The wording of these three verses is tight with no explanation. We may be confident that the angel dealt with the first need of Hagar: “fear not.” Hagar was afraid her son was going to die there, and she removed herself the distance of a bowshot, or 200-300 yards.
Robert Browning Hamilton left us this famous poem. “I walked a mile with Pleasure; She chatted all the way; But left me none the wiser for all she had to say. I walked a mile with Sorrow; And ne’er a word said she; But, oh! The things I learned from her, When Sorrow walked with me.”
DIGGING DEEPER: (Optional Reading)
The Bible Knowledge Commentary has this to say: “This chapter records two additional provisions by God for His people: WATER (Exo_17:1-7) and VICTORY IN BATTLE (Exo_17:8-16). God was demonstrating that He is capable of nourishing and sustaining His own. Parched from their journey and finding no water in the oasis, the people again complained against Moses and blamed him for taking them out of Egypt (cf. Exo_16:3). This was worse than their murmurings of distrust at Marah (Exo_15:24) or in the Desert of Sin (Exo_16:2), for here they even quarreled with Moses (Exo_17:2) and were about to stone him (Exo_17:4). Such quarreling, Moses said, was putting the Lord to the test (Exo_17:2), that is, they were challenging the Lord or trying His patience (Exo_17:7) rather than trusting Him.
“But God was patient with His disobedient and grumbling people. He told Moses to take… the staff with which he had struck the Nile River (Exo_7:20) and to strike a rock at Horeb (Exo_17:6). This “staff of God” (Exo_4:20; Exo_17:9) was a symbol of power; holding it was a sign of dependence and trust in God. Though Horeb is another name for Mount Sinai, Israel did not camp at Sinai until later (Exo_19:1). However, “Horeb” can also mean the Sinai region.
“Rephidim was close to Sinai so that the mountain slopes reached there. In Moses’ striking the rock, the Lord was pleased to satiate His thirsty people with an abundant supply of water. So the Lord provided for them through another miracle. Because the people had tested the Lord there, Moses called the place by two names: Massah (“testing”) and Meribah (“quarreling”). (BKC)
And he said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely. (Rev 21:6)
Read Through the Bible in a Year
NOVEMBER 27, 2017 - MONDAY
A.M Ezekiel 38-39 P.M 1 Peter 4
(Bible Gateway will read this to you if you like. Look for the speaker icon.)
Good Verse to Memorize:
Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name. (Psalm 100:4)
Song for Today:
Tell Me the Story of Jesus (5:49) (Gaither Group)
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“The Bible is a sufficient guide for faith and practice.”