“Massah and Meribah”
The Israelite community continues their journey through the wilderness and again they find no water. They do not seem to remember the lesson of Marah from yesterday. The people quarrel with Moses, demanding water and accusing him of bringing them into the wilderness to kill them. How short our memories are!!! They have forgotten the slavery of Egypt. They have forgotten the miracle of Marah. They have forgotten the palms of Elim. They are focused on their problems that have become insurmountable. In despair and pain Moses turns to God, “What am I to do with these people? They are almost ready to stone me.” Moses is scared too.
God tells Moses to go before the people with some elders and take his staff and stand before the rock at Horeb. Numbers 20:1-13 records a similar incident. Again the people are grumbling because of no water. God tells Moses to take his staff and stand before the rock and speak to the rock this time and it will give water. Moses is angry though. He takes the staff and hits the rock twice. Water flows but Moses has not trusted God and not honored him. Moses will not enter the Promised Land as punishment. Again it is called Meribah for arguing with God.
The staff is not the source of the miracle! God is. Often we think because God worked in one way then he will do the same thing again if we have the same problem. God is not predictable that way nor controllable. Our spiritual disciplines do not produce the relationship but are a means of relationship. Some days the words of Scripture jump off the page and seem to directly apply to our situation but other days it is like reading a foreign language. Some times of prayer are deep and comforting while others feel like God is busy and doesn’t have time for us. Each moment is a new adventure with God.
We see yet again that God is willing to work to resolve a problem but the people are still going to Moses and not to God. Moses is praying but applying an old procedure to meet a new situation that looks similar.
As we face our challenges today may we turn to God with eyes and ears and hearts open to see fresh ways to experience God’s power. Blessings.