Monday, August 15, 2011

The Power of God, verse 2

How often they rebelled against Him in the wilderness and grieved Him in the desert! Again and again they tempted God, and pained the Holy One of Israel. They did not remember His power, the day when He redeemed them from the adversary, when He performed His signs in Egypt and His marvels in the field of Zoan, and turned their rivers to blood, and their streams, they could not drink. He sent among them swarms of flies which devoured them, and frogs which destroyed them. He gave also their crops to the grasshopper and the product of their labor to the locust. He destroyed their vines with hailstones and their sycamore trees with frost. He gave over their cattle also to the hailstones and their herds to bolts of lightning.

He sent upon them His burning anger, fury and indignation and trouble, a band of destroying angels. He leveled a path for His anger; He did not spare their soul from death, but gave over their life to the plague, and smote all the firstborn in Egypt, the first issue of their virility in the tents of Ham.

But He led forth His own people like sheep and guided them in the wilderness like a flock; He led them safely, so that they did not fear; but the sea engulfed their enemies.
Psalm 78:40-53

Now we come to one of the many stories of how God demonstrated His power to Moses and the Israelites during their 40 years of wandering in the desert. This story comes pretty early on in their wandering. It was only two chapters earlier that the Israelites sang their song of praise to God for parting the waters of the Red Sea and ensuring their successful "escape" from Egypt. After that, they start their journey, and God displays His power by turning bitter water into sweet. Then He again displays His power by providing them with manna, new each morning, just enough for each family to gather.

But, these Israelites are a people who are quick to forget God's power and provision. They easily become disgruntled with their situation. They've seen God do miracles in front of them, and yet they become unhappy and quarrelsome. Here we see them at it again, as they worry about what they are to drink.

Then all the congregation of the sons of Israel journeyed by stages from the wilderness of Sin, according to the command of the LORD, and camped at Rephidim, and there was no water for the people to drink. Therefore the people quarreled with Moses and said, “Give us water that we may drink.” Exodus 17:1-2

Moses must have been thinking, "Are you even kidding me? Haven't you seen what the Lord has done?" Even if he was thinking that, he responded less sarcastically.

And Moses said to them, “Why do you quarrel with me? Why do you test the LORD?” Exodus 17:2

God's chosen people could not take a hint.

But the people thirsted there for water; and they grumbled against Moses and said, “Why, now, have you brought us up from Egypt, to kill us and our children and our livestock with thirst?” Exodus 17:4

Wow, that's pretty dramatic. They complain to Moses that they were rescued from slavery only to die of thirst! Remember, this is early in their wandering, but it seems like Moses is already at his wits' end!

So Moses cried out to the LORD, saying, “What shall I do to this people? A little more and they will stone me.” Exodus 17:5

And, God comes through again with a plan for providing water for the Israelites.

Then the LORD said to Moses, “Pass before the people and take with you some of the elders of Israel; and take in your hand your staff with which you struck the Nile, and go. Behold, I will stand before you there on the rock at Horeb; and you shall strike the rock, and water will come out of it, that the people may drink.”
And Moses did so in the sight of the elders of Israel. He named the place Massah and Meribah because of the quarrel of the sons of Israel, and because they tested the LORD, saying, “Is the LORD among us, or not?”
Exodus 17:5-7

God displayed His power again to the Israelites, causing water to come out of the rock. There was nothing powerful, per se, in Moses' staff. The power came from God. God told Moses, "I will stand before you there" - Moses had the power, even if he didn't have the staff. Moses obeyed God and the Lord provided water, even to a grumbling, ungrateful people.

That power that made water come from a rock is still at work in our world today! God's promises are the same to us as they have been for thousands and thousands of years. When we get to our wits' end, we only have to call upon the Lord, and ask that He would reveal His power in us.

I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe.
Ephesian 1:18-19

The Power of God
Words by Frederick A. Graves

When Abraham and Sarah had been promised a son,
They were surprised and knew not what to say;
But they knew what God had promised He was able to perform:
And the power of God is just the same today.

The pow’r of God is just the same today,
It doesn’t matter what the people say;
Whatever God has promised
He’s able to perform:
And the power of God is just the same today.

When Moses wanted water to quench the people’s thirst,
He knew that God would then provide a way;
Although his rod was useful he had the power first:
And the power of God is just the same today.

When Moses made a serpent and placed it on a pole,
The bitten ones were told to look that way,
And then while they were looking Jehovah-rophi made them whole:
And the power of God is just the same today.

When Joshua was commander, he spoke—the sun stood still,
The moon its onward course was made to stay;
Thus he won a mighty battle, for he did his Father’s will:
And the power of God is just the same today.

When Naaman, the leper, before Elisha stood,
He thought he knew just what the seer would say,
But he had to wash in Jordan, though he thought it wasn’t good:
And the power of God is just the same today.

When David met Goliath he meant to have a fight,
The leaders put the battle in array;
Of course he killed the giant, for he was in the right:
And the power of God is just the same today.

When Jonah went to Tarshish to flee away from God,
A mighty fish was waiting for its prey;
It quickly swallowed Jonah, then threw him on the sod:
And the power of God is just the same today.

When Malachi, the prophet, was preaching all abroad,
And cutting like sickle and the scythe;
The people were accursed, for they were robbing God,
They filled to bring the offering and the tithe.

Then came the blessed Savior, with power to cleanse and heal,
To bear my sin and sickness all away;
My burdens, too, He carries, and doth my sorrows feel:
And the power of God is just the same today.

Through Paul and Silas singing and praying in the jail,
For Paul and Silas knew the way to pray;
The prison doors were opened, for locks could not avail,
And the power of God is just the same today.

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