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  • The Water Challenge

    How are you doing with your 30-day water challenge? Drink a gallon of water every day and no other sweetened drinks for 30 days—while we may struggle to keep to a demanding drinking regime the 2.4 million people leaving Egypt in the 15th century BC had a different problem. The 3-day water challenge. Drink nothing for 3 days apart from any supplies you had left over from three weeks of walking and camping.

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    Let’s read on…

    Then Moses led Israel from the Red Sea and they went into the Desert of Shur. For three days they traveled in the desert without finding water. When they came to Marah, they could not drink its water because it was bitter. (That is why the place is called Marah.) So the people grumbled against Moses, saying, “What are we to drink?” (Exodus 15:22-24)

    God leads the people for three days without water, to a pool of water that looks great. Perfectly clear, but flavoured. Flavoured with enough salt and minerals to preserve your leftover turkey until next Christmas.

    When you read the word ‘grumbled’, what do you imagine? Someone muttering under their breath after they missed their bus?  I think this would have been a different league of grumbling, fuelled by anger and desperation, maybe ‘ranting’ gets us closer to being in the people’s sandals here.

    You’d have thought that their faith for a water-related miracle might have been higher after what they’d seen God do to the River Nile and the Red Sea. But then I know how easy it is to go from celebrating God’s miracles one day, to forgetting Him when faced with a something bitter the next day. What did Moses do? What the people should have done all along…

    Then Moses cried out to the Lord, and the Lord showed him a piece of wood. He threw it into the water, and the water became fit to drink. (Exodus 15:25)

    God hears our cries. He has the power to provide for all our physical, spiritual and emotional needs. The final bit of the chapter tells us that God took the people to Marah to test them and teach a lesson…

    There the Lord issued a ruling and instruction for them and put them to the test. He said, “If you listen carefully to the Lord your God and do what is right in his eyes, if you pay attention to his commands and keep all his decrees, I will not bring on you any of the diseases I brought on the Egyptians, for I am the Lord, who heals you.”
    Then they came to Elim, where there were twelve springs and seventy palm trees, and they camped there near the water. (Exodus 15:25b-27)

    God led them to a disappointment to show them what was in their hearts (read Deuteronomy chapter 8 to hear God’s own explanation of this).They saw that their hearts were just like the water; polluted; still enslaved. God tells them that He is Yahweh Rapha, the LORD their doctor. He wants to be the one they turn to and rely on. If they walk with Him and do what is right in His eyes, He will do to their hearts what He did to the water at Marah.

    God explains that these wanderings and provisions in the wild had a purpose, ‘that he might make you know that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.’ (Deut 8:3)

    Those were the words that Jesus clung to when He spent 40 days in the desert. When He was tempted by the devil to take matters into His own hands, he quotes these words from Deuteronomy (Matthew 4:4).

    Here’s the point. Jesus passed the test that the Exodus generation failed. He kept walking at each trial and temptation that they fell at. Let’s bring things back to today. When you put your faith in Jesus’ life, death and resurrection you can be forgiven for of the times when you’ve fallen. I’m not talking about the times when you didn’t stick to the 30-day water challenge, but the darkest and most damaging things in your past, present and future. Wiped out. You are also given Jesus’ record. Able to enjoy the Father as if you’ve passed every test like Jesus. Given the privilege of being united with Jesus, part of the Church, His body, whatever you’ve done with or to yours in the past.

    As we look at Exodus chapters 15-23 this term we are not desperately searching for clues on how we can be good enough to get to heaven. We look back at this story with Jesus in the foreground. Our righteous desert-walker. We can then look at these chapters saying, “Father, You are holy. I really want to do the things you love. Please lead and discipline me, show me what my heart is like so that I can be more like you. Thank You for Your promise that as I trust and obey, You will purify my polluted heart.”


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