Prepare to Listen. Before reading, be still then pray: Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
Prayerfully Read Exodus 17:1-7
From the wilderness of Sin the whole congregation of the Israelites journeyed by stages, as the LORD commanded. They camped at Rephidim, but there was no water for the people to drink. 2The people quarrelled with Moses, and said, ‘Give us water to drink.’ Moses said to them, ‘Why do you quarrel with me? Why do you test the LORD?’ 3But the people thirsted there for water; and the people complained against Moses and said, ‘Why did you bring us out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and livestock with thirst?’ 4So Moses cried out to the LORD, ‘What shall I do with this people? They are almost ready to stone me.’ 5The LORD said to Moses, ‘Go on ahead of the people, and take some of the elders of Israel with you; take in your hand the staff with which you struck the Nile, and go. 6I will be standing there in front of you on the rock at Horeb. Strike the rock, and water will come out of it, so that the people may drink.’ Moses did so, in the sight of the elders of Israel. 7He called the place Massah and Meribah, because the Israelites quarrelled and tested the LORD, saying, ‘Is the LORD among us or not?’
Israel journeyed by stages through the desert just as the LORD God commanded. One of the stages was Rephidim, where there was no water for the people to drink. This desolate place was not a dreadful mistake that should have been avoided if only the people were more attuned to God. No! It was a necessary stage in their journey with God. It was the right place at the right time. In Rephidim Israel experienced the surprising presence of God—the miracle of water from a rock, flowing freely and abundantly.
As you journey through Lent God may lead you to your Rephidim, you place of dryness and desolation. Like Israel, you may be tempted to quarrel with God or blame yourself or others; and like Israel you may initially fail to notice this is a necessary stage and also fail to notice God’s surprising presence in your desert. God doesn’t always immediately quench our thirst. Israel had to be led to the rock where God was standing (vv5-6). The journey into a deeper relationship with God in Christ will go through many Rephidims. While never welcome and certainly not fun, the desert is most often the place where we experience God’s grace most noticeably if we allow ourselves to be led to the rock where God stands.
Wonder about God’s deliberateness with Israel. God didn’t immediately give them water to drink. Moses had to lead them to the rock where God was standing (vv5-6). Where is that rock for you today?
Respond to Jesus
Almighty and Eternal God, you led Israel by stages and continue to lead me today in stages, inviting me to live life as it comes—bit by bit. Sometimes the next stage is Rephidim, where there is no water to drink. Forgive me for so often avoiding the desert stages and missing out on your gracious gifts that only come in the desert. Give me the grace to enter it, alert and attentive to the surprising work of your Spirit in and around me today. In the name of Jesus, Amen.
Continue in prayer for those in the world of desert because of the coronavirus. Lord, have mercy.
Go live obediently in the world, even in stages of dryness.
Because I believe that Scripture is food for our soul (our entire being) I seek to read it and encourage others to read it in ways that nourish and transform our beings. I invite you to read the Bible with me during Lent and into Easter. I am a Bible teacher, spiritual companion and retreat director. I know the Bile and how to read it for spiritual formation.