Exodus 15: 20 – 27
Then the prophet Miriam, Aaron’s sister, took a tambourine in her hand; and all the women went out after her with tambourines and with dancing. And Miriam sang to them:
‘Sing to the Lord, for he has triumphed gloriously;
horse and rider he has thrown into the sea.’
Then Moses ordered Israel to set out from the Red Sea, and they went into the wilderness of Shur. They went for three days in the wilderness and found no water. When they came to Marah, they could not drink the water of Marah because it was bitter. That is why it was called Marah. And the people complained against Moses, saying, ‘What shall we drink?’ He cried out to the Lord; and the Lord showed him a piece of wood; he threw it into the water, and the water became sweet.
There the Lord made for them a statute and an ordinance and there he put them to the test. He said, ‘If you will listen carefully to the voice of the Lord your God, and do what is right in his sight, and give heed to his commandments and keep all his statutes, I will not bring upon you any of the diseases that I brought upon the Egyptians; for I am the Lord who heals you.’
Then they came to Elim, where there were twelve springs of water and seventy palm trees; and they camped there by the water.
It’s been real Cecil B DeMille stuff. (For the younger set, big-screen blockbuster movie stuff!) And such a rollercoaster! After the terrible years of slavery in Egypt, the plagues and miracles, suddenly the people are free and Miriam is leading the women in a celebratory dance, with tambourines and a song of praise to the God who has done these wonderful things for them. It’s a picture of overflowing joy!
And then three days later, walking through the desert and no water. We’re talking about townies here. Not nomads used to this sort of thing. So when they find water but it’s undrinkable, there’s understandable trouble. They turn on Moses, the visible leadership.
Moses hasn’t lost the plot. He goes straight to God who tells him what to do and the day is saved. Off they go again after a reminder from God that they need to keep looking to Him, relating to Him and obeying Him. And their next stop is Elim with its plentiful springs and fruitful palm trees.
Rollercoaster living is exhausting, but so is being stuck in slavery or the wilderness. Jesus offers us peace – whatever we’re going through. This past year has given us plenty of opportunities to choose whether we’ll compain at our human leadership or God Himself, or whether we’ll accept the peace that passes understanding and plod through whatever wilderness or rollercoaster we found ourselves in. Whichever, we can be assured that God was with us, every step of the way.
Thank You, Lord, that you have endless patience with us.
We so easily slip back into slavery, whinge when we encounter problems – especially limits to our privileged western lifestyles, and balk at any continuation of hard times.
Remind us that You are with us, a loving God who provides for all our needs with a generous hand.
Lift our hearts in praise and gratitude to You, for You are worthy.
Author: David Wiggs
I am the webmaster for Purley United Reformed Church and have been involved with the church since my late teens. I work in Croydon and live in Caterham.