Summary: Moses dealt with a difficult situation and prevailed because he kept his eyes on the right things.
OPENING: A small boy dialed "O" and asked the operator to call a number for him. He didn’t speak clearly, so she couldn’t understand him. After repeating it four times, he blurted out, "You operators are dumb," and slammed down the receiver. Hearing this, his mother was shocked. She called the operator and made the boy apologize. Later, when his mother left the house, the lad got on the phone again. "Is this the same operator I talked to a little while ago?" "Yes," came the reply. "Well," said the boy, "I still think you’re dumb!"
APPLICATION: Like the telephone operator, many of us have had positions of responsibility or authority that have caused us to make decisions that others haven’t liked I had a friend in business who once had a disturbed customer call up him twice, cuss him out, and the abruptly hang up.
Moses is in a similar situation. The people have quarreled with him, they’ve grumbled at him. They’ve misused and abused him. And Moses is disheartened. He’s even wondered if they intend to stone him.
Have you ever felt like that?
Here at Rephidim, these people are not just thirsty - they’re MAD. They’ve been 6 months in the desert with nothing but rocks and sand… and I can imagine what transpired:
· They question Moses leadership (why did you bring us up out of Egypt)
· They dwell on his faults (not hard to do since everybody has some imperfection)
Illus: A respected preacher in our area: George Faull, commented on the number of words he spoke & wrote each week.. He said, when you turn out that many words each week, you’re going to make a slipup now and again.
· And they question his character, his morality.
How can you defend against such people?
I. To defend yourself, you first need to know who to talk to about your problem.
Who did the Israelites talk to? They talked to Moses. No, they didn’t so much talk to him as they talked at him. They quarreled with Moses (vs 2), and they grumbled behind his back (vs3). That’s too often how "religious" people behave.
Do you see any where in this text where the Israelites talk to God about their complaints? No. But Moses did (vs 4 & 5)
Moses prayed. Why did he pray? He prayed because he knew how he got to Rephidim (vs 1). He believed in God’s faithfulness (Romans 8:28) and he believed God would deliver him from his difficulties.
II. Secondly, we must realize that prayer must be followed by a PROPER ATTITUDE.
You can’t just wish your problems away, but you can approach them with the right mind set. Notice, Moses doesn’t get angry. He doesn’t put these people down. He doesn’t start a grumbling campaign of his own. He doesn’t question their morality or their parent’s heritage. He doesn’t respond in any of the ways are common for people under fire. God warns: "the wrath of man doesn’t work the righteousness of God." What I find instructive here is that several days later, Moses offers his life in exchange for theirs (Exodus 32:31-32).
III. Thirdly, we need to OBEY.
What was Moses commanded to do? Go to the rock and strike it.
ILLUS: Did you know it’s possible to get water from a rock? It’s true. Using a
furnace and heating the rock to a certain temperature, geologists have found that you can get about a pint of water from 100 pounds of rock (heat releases the hydrogen and oxygen within the rocks, which then bonds to form H2O).
But, that’s still a hard way to water over a million people!
ONE ROCK - why God did it that way?
I Cor. 10:1-4 tells us:
For I do not want you to be ignorant of the fact, brothers, that our forefathers were all under the cloud and that they all passed through the sea. They were all baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea. They all ate the same spiritual food and drank the same spiritual drink; for they drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them, and that rock was Christ.
In essence, you could say, Moses created a great miracle because he kept his on the rock and not on the people and he stepped out ahead of his problems in faith. To solve a Moses size problem we need to go ahead of the grumblers (don’t let the multitude get between you and the rock). We need to fix our eyes on God, and not on the grumblers.
CLOSE: Many people have heard of the outstanding exploits of Blondin, the tightrope walker. Blondin amused and amazed thousands of people as he made his way over Niagara Falls on a slender rope stretched from shore to shore. He never faltered or failed. But Blondin had a secret. As he made his way over the rope, he would keep his eyes fixed on a large silver star which he had erected at the far end. The star was the center of his attention and guided him to the other side.