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. The people quarreled 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?” But 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?” So Moses cried out to the Lord, “What shall I do with this people? They are almost ready to stone me.” The 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. I 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. He called the place Massah and Meribah, because the Israelites quarreled and tested the Lord, saying, “Is the Lord among us or not?”
What jumps out at you when you read this story? What do you notice? What images, words, phrases, actions catch your eye or your ear or your imagination?
Does any other story come to mind? A movie, a scene, a song, a novel, another part of the Bible?
What do you think is the real problem here–is it just water?
When you encounter a problem, what is your first reaction? The first reaction of the Israelites seems to be to accost their leader with sarcasm. You can practically see them rolling their eyes as they ask “why did you bring us out here–to kill us with thirst?”
What do you think of how Moses handles the problem? Why do you think he takes the elders with him? What happens out there in the desert?
We live in a time of perceived scarcity, arguing, and debatable leadership. What might this story have to say to us now in the latter half of 2011?
What is the good news for us in this story?
What is the challenge God is giving us through this story?
Is the Lord among us or not?