Exodus 17 is one of the “thirst” passages in Scripture. I have always been drawn to this theme, which is literally throughout Scripture, of Jesus being the “Living Water” that quenches our deepest thirsts. The church the Lord used me to help plant was called The River. The youth ministry I served was called H2O. That’s why this blog is called thirstyones.com. I just really appreciate and resonate with this theme in the Bible – the theme that God and God alone satisfies our deepest thirsts.
In Exodus 17, God’s people are thirsty. Now, they are in the desert, so the lack of drinkable water would be understandable. In fact, they have been in this situation before. Just two chapters earlier, in Exodus 15:22-25, the Israelites found themselves in a place where the water was very bitter, and God miraculously provided drinkable water for them.
The whole Bible is a unified narrative about the saving work of Jesus Christ. As I have been journeying with the nation of Israel through Exodus, I have seen Christ at every turn. Yesterday, I read about how God provided for the nation of Israel by literally dropping bread out of heaven, and I noted that Jesus taught them that,
“it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but my Father gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” They said to him, “Sir, give us this bread always.” (John 6:32-34)
Just as Jesus is the Bread of Life that came down from heaven, He is also the source of “living water”. This theme is all over Scripture. (Jeremiah 2:13, Jeremiah 17:13, John 4:10-11, John 7:38, Revelation 7:17)
In Exodus 17, I noticed three things about the Israelites’ grumbling about the water:
- First, they demanded water. “Give us water to drink.” (Exodus 17:2) They deserved water NOW. They had a sense of entitlement.
- They also accused God of being indifferent to their needs. “Why did you bring us up out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and our livestock with thirst?” (Exodus 17:3) We’ve heard this one before. They are doubting the character of God.
- Finally, they doubted the presence of God. “Is the Lord among us or not?” (Exodus 17:7)
I do the same things when things aren’t going my way. I will get demanding, believing that I am entitled, demanding God to be MY servant instead of realizing that I am supposed to be serving HIM. Other times, I will accuse the Lord of not caring about my needs. Or worse, I will accuse Him of actually trying to harm me. Sometimes, I even question His presence in my life.
Moses called this place Massah (which means testing) and Meribah (which means quarreling). (Exodus 17:7) In Psalm 95, the Lord refers specifically to this place and this incident as He pleads with us not to harden our hearts.
For he is our God,and we are the people of his pasture,and the sheep of his hand.Today, if you hear his voice,do not harden your hearts, as at Meribah,as on the day at Massah in the wilderness,when your fathers put me to the testand put me to the proof, though they had seen my work.
Don’t miss the significance of the rock in Exodus 17:6. Before the Lord tells Moses to strike the rock for water, the Lord says that He will “stand before you there on the rock.” Paul goes on to say in 1 Corinthians 10:4 that the rock was Christ. Christ is not simply the Provider, He is the Source. He longs for us to thirst for Him as one would thirst for water in the desert. One of my favorite Psalms is Psalm 63.
O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you;my soul thirsts for you;my flesh faints for you,as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.
I am praying that your soul will find its thirst quenched by the Living Water of the Lord, and that soon you will accept the invitation that the Lord gave in Revelation 22:17:
The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price. (Revelation 22:17)