Summary: Using the Boot Camp metaphor would lend itself to Moses being a leader ----much like a drill sergeant. In this episode Moses encountered the unhappy campers in the their exodus from Egyptian captivity.


Text: Exodus 17:1- 7

Anyone who was ever in the military is familiar what with the term Boot Camp. When a veteran hears the term Boot Camp, they can recall not only the branch of service that they were in, but also how intense the training was for them when they were new recruits. Most of us as civilians are familiar with that colloquial term “Boot Camp” that they use for what is also known as Basic Training. The “Boot Camp” ideal has transferred even into parts of civilian life.

There are some “Boot Camps” that are designed to transform juvenile delinquents into productive and responsible citizens. There are even some “Boot Camps” that are geared to fitness to help people lose weight and get physically fit in the process. When I played high school football, we would practice twice a day in August. That experience was a lot like a Boot Camp.

Using the Boot Camp metaphor would lend itself to Moses being a leader ----much like a drill sergeant. In this episode Moses encountered the unhappy campers in the their exodus from Egyptian captivity. They complain and blame Moses for leading out of Egypt to die of thirst. In frustration, Moses asks God what is he to do with these people who are almost ready to stone him. The time in the wilderness resembles a type of “Boot Camp” where God will to shape His people where they lack discipline and faith.


How many times have you passed a place of business where you have seen a sign that said “Under new management”? The children of Israel were liberated from slavery and given a new start. 1) New management: They were under new management. Even though they were under a new management, they preferred the old one (Exodus 17:3). 2) Complaints: This was not the first time that the complained against the management. They seemed to have amnesia because they do not remember their deliverance. They do not recall crossing the Red Sea on dry ground (Exodus 14:21- 22). They did not remember how God made the bitter water sweet at Marah (Exodus 16:22- 25). They did not remember how God fed them with manna and quail. They forgot all of these thighs when they got to Rephidim (Exodus 17:1- 7).

Why new management? They needed discipline and structure. 1) New direction: One of the things that they do in military Boot Camp is to remove some of the things of the old identity and remold a new one. They change the hair, the clothes, the diet and exercise. 2) Expectations: “Moses is only an agent for Yaweh [God] who is the real leader, the one who is responsible for the mismatch between expectation and delivery. … Moses is in jeopardy because God has not acted. Moses along with Israel is beginning to notice that the God of the exodus is not a “sugar daddy” who supplies all the desires and yearnings of Israel.” (Walter E Bruggemann. Charles B. Cousar. Beverly Gaventa. & James Newsome. Texts For Preaching: Year A. “Third Sunday In Lent: Exodus 17:1-7”. Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 1995, p. 201). They needed new management so that they would not forgot who they were, where they were and where they were going. The old management exploited and oppressed them. The new management delivered and reoriented them.


What do you think of when you hear the word “submission”? One of the things that I think about is giving up. But, doesn’t giving up look like surrender? Submission in the context of this passage of scripture is about yielding to God’s authority. 1) Refusal to submit: Refusing to yield to God’s authority could prove to be deadly because they are in a desert. 2) Repeating mistakes: A pastor (Thomas R. Steagald) recalled the observation of one of his teachers. That teacher once said, “When people do not know what went wrong, they will decide who went wrong”. That same teacher also said, “When people do not know what to do, they will do what they know”. (David N. Mosser. Ed. The Abingdon Preaching Annual 2011. Thomas R. Steagald. “Lectionary Commentary: Exodus 17:1 – 7”. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2010, p. 97).

3) Insanity?: I have heard it said many times that the definition for insanity is doing the same thing over and over again while expecting different results. How could the children of Israel make progress and grow if they are slaves to the habits they had when they used to be slaves in Egyptian captivity?

Why were they resistant to change? 1) Old Habits: It is easy to focus on the faults of others until we discover we have the same faults. Do we have some of their faults? Do we still struggle with our baggage? 2) Resistance to change: Earlier, this week, there was a seminar where the guest speaker Dr. Lovett H. Weems, Jr. made some very valid points as he talked about change. Trust me, you are going to love this analogy that Dr. Weems shared with us: “Only babies liked to be changed”. He also said, “We cannot become what we need to be by remaining what we are.” What Dr. Weems said relates well to Exodus 17:1 -7. It also relates well to us.

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