Sunday, May 26, 2013

The Shepherd's Voice: In the Wilderness

"Jesus answered him, 'It is also written:  "Do not put the Lord your God to the test."'"

At the time of this quote of Jesus, we find Him still in the middle of a 40-day trek in the wilderness, where He is being tempted by Satan.  Here there are recorded three separate instances in which Satan tempted Jesus, and the first time, Jesus responded to Satan with a scripture that was from Deut. 8, as an instruction to the Israelites, during their own wilderness trek.

In this second temptation recorded, Satan tries to twist scripture himself, in order to make Jesus do what is sinful.  Jesus again responds with scripture, again with an instruction from the Israelites' time in the wilderness.

Jesus response to Satan is taken from Exodus 17.  I turned to this passage in an effort to find out just what this means.  Because Jesus tells us--as the scripture says--not to put the Lord to the test.  And yet there are a couple of other examples I can think of in scripture, when people seem to do just that (Gideon, for example).  So I took another look at Exodus 17, to see exactly what the Israelites did that so angered the Lord.

The above passage describes a time when, in the middle of Israel's wanderings in the desert, the Lord brings them to a place where there is no water.  Because of this, and because the people are thirsty, they begin to "quarrel" with Moses, so heatedly that he apparently believes the people are ready to stone him.  They began to even question why Moses brought them out of Egypt (where they had been enslaved), if only to die of thirst in the desert!  The verse that really grabbed me, though, was their question at the very end of this passage, "Is the Lord among us, or not?"

After all that the Israelites have been through thus far by the hand of the Lord, they still ask that question.  Up to this point, the Lord has:

  • Performed ten plagues in Egypt
  • Caused Pharaoh to let the Israelites leave Egypt
  • Parted the Red Sea, so that the Israelites could escape the Egyptian army
  • Guided the Israelites with a pillar of cloud by day, and a pillar of fire by night
  • Made the bitter, undrinkable water at Marah sweet so that the Israelites could drink it
  • Provided manna for the Israelites to eat
  • Provided quail for them to eat

And still they question the presence of the Lord among them.  I would say that it surprises me. 

Except that it doesn't.  Because I know I do the same. 

The Lord has given me grace upon grace, blessing upon blessing.

And still, when I don't receive exactly what I want, or He doesn't answer my prayer exactly as I had expected, and I feel plunged into my own wilderness without the specific blessings of God that I desired...well, let's just say I've got a thing or two still to learn from the Shepherd.

No comments: