Tag Archives: Wilderness

Marching To Rephidim

In April of 2008 I wrote the following post in two parts. It’s been a great blessing to me and to many others over the years. I thought I would share it with you once more….

Part 1

There is a passage of scripture that I often go to for comfort and reminder. It’s a very strange place to go for such things, but it has proven to provide them to me. It is part of the story of the Exodus of Israel from Egypt. They have left Egypt, crossed the sea on dry land, and are being led by God with a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. In the middle of this odyssey we come to this passage, Exodus 17:1 Then all the congregation of the sons of Israel journeyed by stages from the wilderness of Sin, according to the command of the LORD….. . Day by day, led by the cloud and the pillar, they are following God’s leading…following him and trusting him. Then, in this short verse we find these words, and they camped at Rephidim… . They camped here by God’s leading! But you must see the end of the verse to understand how important this passage is,and there was no water for the people to drink. When this passage first became clear to me this last phrase stopped me, and my response was, “WHAT?!?! You took them to a place where there was no water? And you took them there ON PURPOSE!?” Yes he did. And he will lead us to places like this….places in the desert where there is no water. Dry places, places where we ask, “why did you bring me here?” That will become clear in a moment, but you need to know that dry places are in God’s plan for our lives. When you find yourself at your Rephidim know that it didn’t happen by accident, God has led you there. He’s working in your life….he has a plan.

Let me make this one thing clear- they were led to a place where there was no water. There were 2,000,000 of them with millions of animals, and God led them to Rephidim on purpose….to a place where there wasn’t any water. Did I make that part clear yet? Why? That’s a most important question to ask. Go back with me a few chapters to a shepherd in the wilderness who comes upon a burning bush. It’s the same Moses who now comes to this same wilderness with the nation of Israel in tow. Why did God bring them here? Here’s the reason, Exodus 3:1 Now Moses was pasturing the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian; and he led the flock to the west side of the wilderness and came to Horeb (Rephidim), the mountain of God. Let’s skip down the visit with God a bit to this verse, Exodus 3:12 And He said, “Certainly I will be with you, and this shall be the sign to you that it is I who have sent you: when you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall worship God at this mountain.” God led them to this very place to meet with him, to worship him! But here is what they saw, Exodus 17:2 Therefore the people quarreled with Moses and said, “Give us water that we may drink.” And Moses said to them, “Why do you quarrel with me? Why do you test the LORD?” Exodus 17:3 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?” All they saw was a desert with no water in sight. What they missed was the fact that God was there waiting for them! In the next few verses God resolves their water problem, Exodus 17:5 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. Exodus 17:6 “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. This Horeb is the rock that was split in the middle and from it came water to quench the thirst of millions for months. God provided water, but they had missed the opportunity to ask a really important question, “Lord, why are we here?” They completely missed God in their thirst for water! How often I do that. I miss God in the midst of my “needs.”

So, as an expert in wilderness spirituality, let me suggest that when you come to a spiritual desert and find that you have no water the next thing you say is most important. Having been here many times let me suggest this as your next response, “Hello Father, I see we are in the desert without water. What are we working on today? How can I best glorify you through this time in the wilderness?”

When you find yourself out of work, hurting, wounded, left alone, discouraged, depressed, unhappy or simply thirsty for God and find that he has brought you to a dry place don’t fall into the trap of focusing on your need. Look around, God is there waiting for you….he has brought you to this place on purpose!

 

Part 2

Yesterday I left you in the middle of the desert with the nation of Israel in a place where there was no water. They were led there on purpose by God. Let me make this clear- they were led to a place where there was no water. There were 2,000,000 of them with millions of animals, and God led them to Rephidim onpurpose….to a place where there wasn’t any water.

Did I make that part clear yet?

Why?

That’s a most important question to ask. Go back with me a few chapters to a shepherd in the wilderness who comes upon a burning bush. It’s the same Moses who now comes to this same wilderness with the nation of Israel in tow. Why did God bring them here? Here’s the reason,

Exodus 3:1 Now Moses was pasturing the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian; and he led the flock to the west side of the wilderness and came to Horeb (Rephidim), the mountain of God.

Let’s skip down the visit with God a bit to this verse,

Exodus 3:12 And He said, “Certainly I will be with you, and this shall be the sign to you that it is I who have sent you: when you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall worship God at this mountain.”

God led them to this very place to meet with him, to worship him!

But here is what they saw,

Exodus 17:2 Therefore the people quarreled with Moses and said, “Give us water that we may drink.” And Moses said to them, “Why do you quarrel with me? Why do you test the LORD?”

Exodus 17:3 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?”

All they saw was a desert with no water in sight. What they missed was the fact that God was there waiting for them! In the next few verses God resolves their water problem,

Exodus 17:5 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.
Exodus 17:6 “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.

This Horeb is the rock I posted in part 1, the rock that was split in the middle. God provided water, but they had missed the opportunity to ask a really important question, “Lord, why are we here?” They completely missed God in their thirst for water! How often I do that. I miss God in the midst of my “needs.”

So, as an expert in wilderness spirituality, let me suggest that when you come to a spiritual desert and find that you have no water the next thing you say is most important. Having been here many times let me suggest this as your next response,

“Hello Father, I see we are in the desert without water. What are we working on today? How can I best glorify you through this time in the wilderness?”

 

Visit Mike at Finishing Well.

Thirsty

Psalm 42: As the deer longs for streams of water,
so I long for you, O God.
I thirst for God, the living God.

Have you ever been thirsty? I mean really thirsty…your mouth dry, lips parched, your tongue clinging to the roof of your mouth. If you have ever been that thirsty you long for just a sip of water. Thirsty….it’s how we describe a need for something that is vital to life. We cannot live without water. If we went without it for even a few days our health would diminish quickly. We must have water to live.

David wrote of another kind of thirst. He wrote in this Psalm of a thirst for God. A craving for that relationship, that presence that could only be equated to a thirsty deer in the wilderness looking for water. We all have this thirst, this need for God, but many try to quench their thirst with other things.

Like water to the body, God is the only thing that will really meet our thirst’s need. Around me I watch a world looking for relief from their thirst in other ways, but the only one, the only water for the soul is God himself. Those who look for relief from other sources will never quench their thirst, they simply sate their thirst for a moment with things that don’t satisfy.

I feel that thirst in my life. I so want some “face time” with God, I so want to satisfy my thirsty soul with his presence. It’s his face I need to seek, it’s his presence in my life that will quench my thirsty soul. Like David, I thirst for God. Lord, would you quench my thirsty?

 

Visit Mike at Finishing Well.

Steep Grade Ahead

Steep grade ahead, in the wilderness great

where God’s voice whispers through aspens and pines

our hearts will not miss a beat for we know what is at stake

through strife, we will find a blessing for all times.

for years to come we will look back on these days,

and remember God’s beauty, which is ours to find.

As the low clouds shifted and moved to the south

The snowy mountain peak was revealed

ten hours we had been confined

en route to where our true journey would begin.

Our excitement grew in an instant

the pines framed the sight

we paused to take in its beauty

and pondered what the journey would be like

The peak seemed close at hand

as we stood there in awe.

Intoxicated by the view, before we began

the long treacherous climb, to answer our call.

In actuality the mountain was a ways,

our feet would have to carry us a long distance yet

to reach our goal in the coming days

we would not be deterred, in our wilderness dance

Steep grade ahead, in the wilderness great

where God’s voice whispers through aspens and pines

our hearts will not miss a beat for we know what is at stake

through strife, we will find a blessing for all times.

for years to come we will look back on these days,

and remember God’s beauty, which is ours to find.

We had our gear,

our souls were not dead.

we had trained, but were we prepared,

for there was a steep grade ahead.

Our beautiful goal had us in a trance

as we stood our ground and took in the view.

The mountain trail invited us to dance

in hopes that our souls would soon renew

Headwaters start anew, just below the ridge line

Soon we will stand above and take a long hard gaze

and view God’s earth as seen before our time.

Cold, but not alone, atop the ridge are our best days.

In time thereafter, we must descend,

for there is witness and the work of our lives,

families, and responsibilities to which we must attend

But standing atop the mountain ridge, we are revived.

Steep grade ahead, in the wilderness great

where God’s voice whispers through aspens and pines

our hearts will not miss a beat for we know what is at stake

through strife, we will find a blessing for all times.

for years to come we will look back on these days,

and remember God’s beauty, which is ours to find.

By Philip Mack Furlow