Proper 21, Year A, Old Testament Lesson
Scripture: Exodus 17:1-7
In the previous chapter the Israelites faced the hardship of not having enough food and God provided for them. Now they are thirsty and don’t know where they will get their water for themselves and their livestock. They once again complain to Moses. It would be easy for us to see them as a whiney bunch of people who did not have faith. But let us remember that these are people who have just been freed from slavery, and they are wondering what this journey is all about. They are thirsty, and if you have ever been REALLY thirsty or if you have been dehydrated, you know that it is not something that you can just “power through.” This is a life and death situation not only for the people, but also for their livestock and their well-being.
They complain against Moses, wondering again what his plan is or if he brought them out here to die. Moses appeals to the Lord realizing what a tense situation they are in and God, once again provides for them.
This is one of the many times in Exodus where it is brought to light that the Israelites have trouble trusting in Moses and God. Through God’s acts of bringing them water and food and water (again), trust is being built. Remember, these are freed slaves. Why would they trust in their leaders when their previous leaders and rulers has been cruel to them and made them work in horrid conditions. Through Moses and through God’s actions, they can see that God can be trusted even in the most dire circumstances.
This also teaches us, the people of God past, present and future, that God is faithful, we can trust God, and we as people of God (like Moses) can make a difference in other people’s lives if we act on what God has called us to do. If nothing else, we see God meeting the people where they are (again) and providing for their journey. O come, o come Emmanuel.