How To Live In His Will In A Wilderness

EXODUS 17:1 – 7
[To better comprehend the following read the text first.]Jesus Christ said, “Come unto me all you who labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest.”

How do you relate to that? How does that relate to you? Many Christians act like: They have never heard that. They don’t believe it, God won’t do it the next time. The question often posed is: “Is the Lord among us or not?” (Vs. 7) Paraphrased, “Where are you when I need you, God?”

In our text there are two simultaneous truths. One is historical. It is the story of Israel’s deliverance from Egypt. The other is a current spiritual analogy as applied to our post-salvation experiences.

Note, these people were where they were “according to the commandment of the Lord.” It was God’s will for them to be there in the middle of the desert without any water. We Christians often find ourselves in desert places, in adverse conditions. If you have a good memory, you may recall it has been in the desert that some of your greatest blessings have happened. The basic, initially emerging summary truth that is readily apparent, is you don’t have to be disturbed in the desert.

I Peter 1:6,7 explains what was happening to them and helps interpret much of what happens to us. A way of testing your faith is to get you into a position where human impossibility is apparent.

The story that follows is a true story that pictures many of your experiences. This is a perfect analogy of where you have been and/or will be.

The people needed water. This was no imaginary need, it was real. They were bivouacked over a 25 to 30 mile area. Everyone wanted and needed water. There was absolutely no way to get it. Imagine the panic! Observe their reaction. It is how not to act. They had seen God’s grace and guidance many times in their deliverance. Yet, they seem to act as though it has just run out.

With great anticipation, they have come through a vast expanse of desert to an oasis called Meribah, meaning “refreshment,” Their strong desire for water was frustrated–the oasis was dry.

Bewildering! It was absolutely unreal that God would do this to them. Their preoccupation with having no water caused them to overlook one thing. They were there “according to the commandment of the Lord” (Vs. 1). God was not trying to torture or mistreat them. He merely wanted to bless them. Bless them? Yes, bless them.

They were in a position as hopeless as we sometimes find ourselves. Let’s learn the lesson of this story academically that we might not have to learn it experientially. If it is, however, our experience, let’s learn the truths taught in it so we can have the right resources in our hour of need.

There was NO human solution. They were right where God wanted them.

How do you feel in extenuating or impossible circumstances? How do you feel when someone mistreats or crosses you? We want everyone to live, think, and act like us. Why? Because of our pride we want to be dictator. They don’t and won’t. Quit trying to make them. If you are in a position of leadership, you may have to guide them but within their own personality.

How do you feel about air travel? Are you a white-knuckle flyer? Do you remind yourself that the Lord said, “Low I am with you always…” Can’t you simply conclude whether or not a flight is one the Lord wants you to make. If it is, you can’t lose. If you are doing God’s will, you are invincible until His intended work for you is complete. If you are flying in a specific plane “according to the commandment of the Lord” and it crashes, you simply die in God’s will. You can’t lose.

Everybody comes to places where they have to rely on the Lord or exercise the only option—PANIC.

Faith is merely confidence in God’s character. Peace of mind is a result of a spiritual technique. It doesn’t mean to quit working, it just means to start trusting.

They had a real, not imagined, need. They had seen God work many times. By now you would think they should have developed confidence in Him. Based on Romans 8:32 we should have consistent faith in God: “He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not freely give us all things?”

There is grace at the cross. From there we move into an area of more grace — grace more abundantly. James 4:6 He gives more grace. Therefore, He says: “God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble.”

If the Lord has saved you, He has already done the most difficult thing. Surely, He can do the lesser things. Trust Him.

By the thousands those people panicked and complained. A Christian is at his worst under pressure when he panics and can’t think straight. People who have lost their spiritual “cool” can’t be dealt with. Moses knew this. He didn’t try. He went before the Lord in prayer. Moses was practicing what he had preached in Exodus 14:13, “Do not be afraid. Stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will accomplish for you today.”

Now Moses exercised the difficult authority of a leader. He stood up for what was right in the wave of accusation, adversity, and the majority. The people were ready to stone Moses, and he personally practiced Ex. 14:13 while appealing to the people to do the same.

God instructed Moses to stand before the people and strike the rock once. He confidently believed and obeyed the word of God. In the fact of adversity he went forth obediently. Water resulted. He called the name of this place “Meribah,” a place of testing.

This is a picture of salvation. In Isaiah 55:1 water is a picture of salvation. When this water gushed forth, the people didn’t stand around and refuse it with such excuses as: “I am not worthy.” Or, “I’ll drink later.” Or, “Somebody will see me and I am a shy, private person.” Neither should we stand around and refuse salvation with such weak excuses.

Now move rapidly to Numbers 20. This is approximately 40 years later. During these forty years in the wilderness, they have seen God work miracle after miracle. They have repetitiously seen divine faithfulness and all they have done is complain. These are history’s greatest failures. All but Moses, Joshua, and Caleb were unfaithful.

All the old generation had died off. Now there is a new generation to be tested. They, like their parents came to the desert of Sin. Their need is as acute as had been their parents. Again, there is no water. Forty years ago God provided water, but now there is none. How did they react?

“The people contended with Moses,” (Numbers 20:3). These children had learned by the example of their parents, not from the word of and faithfulness of God. They panicked and tried to do the job themselves. Remember, they too are where God wants them. They add a new twist, however, they call this an “evil place” (Nu. 20:5).

They called this place where God wanted them evil and talked about Egypt as wonderful (Vs. 5). Why? They had never been there. This generation was born in the wilderness. They got these ideas from their parents. Often parents discipline
children for things the child has learned from the parent. Parents must teach spiritual values to their children.

Israel had left Egypt, but Egypt had not left the heart of Israel. Sometimes a person is converted, but the world is still in the heart. Get it out.

Moses and Aaron went into the tabernacle to pray. Unfortunately now Moses gets raveled. He now digresses from God’s expressed will.

Moses was instructed to strike the first rock with the rod. That rock was called “sewer,” a sharp rock. The rod was the rod of judgment used to part the Nile. That experience spoke of the cross.

Now at the second rock called “Salem,” a high pointed rock Moses is commanded to speak to it. This experience spoke of the resurrection. Moses had the rod of Aaron present, the rod that budded, picturing new resurrected life.

Moses was to speak to the rock. At this point he disobeyed and struck it. Observe how he reacted when out of God’s will: “Here now,, you rebels! He became critical and condemning. “Must WE bring water for you out of this rock?” (Vs. 10.)

In spite of his disobedience in striking the rock, God supplied the needs of the people.

God spoke to Moses and Aaron and said, “you did not believe Me…” Disobedience is always a result of disbelief. God calls disobedience disbelief.

Now turn to Hebrews 3:7ff
“If” introduces volition. That is, the decision is entirely up to the individual.
“His voice” relates to His promise. There are 7,000 promised of God that apply to you in the Scripture.
“Do not harden your hearts…” This is knowing a promise and not applying it.
“in the rebellion,” a reference to Meribah.
“Today,” right now don’t “harden your hearts.”