Now there was no water for the congregation. And they assembled themselves together against Moses and against Aaron. And the people quarreled with Moses and said, “Would that we had perished when our brothers perished before the Lord! Why have you brought the assembly of the Lord into this wilderness, that we should die here, both we and our cattle? And why have you made us come up out of Egypt to bring us to this evil place? It is no place for grain or figs or vines or pomegranates, and there is no water to drink.” Then Moses and Aaron went from the presence of the assembly to the entrance of the tent of meeting and fell on their faces. And the glory of the Lord appeared to them, and the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “Take the staff, and assemble the congregation, you and Aaron your brother, and tell the rock before their eyes to yield its water. So you shall bring water out of the rock for them and give drink to the congregation and their cattle.” And Moses took the staff from before the Lord, as he commanded him. Numbers 20:2-9, ESV.
If you were to make a list of the things that bring you satisfaction in life, what would be on that list? If you had to rank these satisfying things in order of importance what would show up at the top of the list? If the answers are not easy to come by, perhaps it would be good to take this exercise from the hypothetical to the real—and do it even before you read on.
As they traveled in the wilderness, a journey God sent them on as punishment for their sin, the Israelites noticed that the things that brought satisfaction were missing. Because there was no water, they would not be able to grow figs, grapes, and pomegranates. Their cattle would not survive. Not to mention that there would be no water to drink. Satisfaction for Israel came in the form of water
Now, this sounds pretty reasonable. After all, man can survive only a few days without water. And farmers know you cannot grow crops without water. Their griping sounds reasonable until you consider two other factors.
First, since they first entered the wilderness, the Israelites have been complaining about being taken out of prosperity in Egypt and not brought immediately into “a land flowing with milk and honey” (Numbers 16). Egypt was a land of prosperity, but not for them. They were slaves in Egypt. They were brought to a land of milk and honey but, because they did not trust God, they were sent to die out in the wilderness. They redefined the past to make it sound better than it was. They assumed that they deserved only good from God’s hand. They ignored the fact that their situation was the result of their own sin. Any of this sound a little too familiar?
Second, they are acting as though God does not dwell in their midst. God who is the Creator, the Sustainer, the giver of all good things is right there with them. Instead of praying to God and asking for His gracious provision, they complain. Their complaints are always directed at Moses, but they are really complaining about God, that He has failed them. How sad that we as Christians often do the same! The church has failed me. The pastor and deacons have failed me. My husband or wife has failed me. My job has failed me. God dwells with us in the person of the Holy Spirit. When we grumble in dissatisfaction, we are declaring that God has failed us—not given us the good we deserve.
What satisfies you? Do you look to your circumstances or your God? My prayer is that the presence of God will find its way to the top of your list today—that you will be satisfied with Him and trust in His goodwill for your circumstance.