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Summary: Events in the Bible that took place on a mountain

Mountain Moving Faith

“The Battle Belongs to the Lord”

Exodus 17:8-16

Have you ever wondered if God is real? Have you ever thought to yourself, “What if there is no God after all?” Some good people get the worst kinds of diseases and die while some bad people live in the lap of luxury. A missionary dies at 35 years of age in an automobile accident while a Murderer lives into this 80s. Some Christians who get sick pray and they healed, others pray and they die. Some Christians seem to prosper in everything they do while others languish in near poverty. And you don’t have to live very long to realize these differences are not simply a matter of intelligence or industriousness.

A number of years ago a Jewish Rabbi wrote a book that didn’t answer the question very well but certainly asked it well – “Why do bad things happen to good people?” (Harold Kushner in book by that title) One response came from Ellie Weisel a WWII concentration camp prisoner who came out of his experience convinced there cannot be a God. Others have clung to their belief in the existence of God but have supposed him to be absent from their individual lives in any practical ways. “There may be a God, but I don’t expect anything from him.” “The sun and the rain alike seem to fall on the just and the unjust alike.”

The question is often asked in the midst of crisis or discouragement, “Is the Lord with us or not?” How about you? Is the Lord with you? Can you and do you trust him with your life? As you move through the mundane and the momentous experiences of everyday life, do you know that God is there, protecting and providing? In the book of Exodus the Israelites ask the very question I just asked, Exodus 17:7 “Is the LORD among us or not?" After their escape from Egypt, and God’s destruction of the Egyptian army in the Red Sea, Moses led the people into the desert on their way to the Promised Land. But immediately they ran into trouble.

Exodus 15:22-23 “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.” So God made the water drinkable. Exodus 16:1-2 “The whole Israelite community set out from Elim and came to the Desert of Sin, which is between Elim and Sinai… In the desert the whole community grumbled against Moses and Aaron” about no food. So God gave them Manna. Exodus 17:1,3 “The whole Israelite community set out from the Desert of Sin, traveling from place to place as the LORD commanded. They camped at Rephidim, but there was no water for the people to drink… But the people were thirsty for water there, and they grumbled against Moses. They said, "Why did you bring us up out of Egypt to make us and our children and livestock die of thirst?" And God gave them water to drink. But the text says in Exodus 17:7 “And (Moses) called the place Massah and Meribah because the Israelites quarreled and because they tested the LORD saying, "Is the LORD among us or not?"

When, from our perspective, bad things happen to us, that is the question we ask, “Is God here or not?” It appears to me that the author of the book is attempting to answer that question when he writes of yet another incident in the lives of God’s people. To stick with the theme of Mountain Moving Faith it is believed that this even took place around the Mountain range of Mt. Horeb or Sinai. Please stand for the reading of God’s Holy Word: Read Exodus 17:8-16.

With the added perspective we are given by the New Testament, we can look back on the Israelites’ experience of the OT and see that it parallels our own spiritual experience. Their bondage in Egypt is like our own captivity to sin – our lives before salvation. Their active faith at Passover, trusting God’s provision through the sacrificial lamb is like us trusting in God’s ultimate Lamb, his own son, the Lord Jesus – this is justification, conversion, new life. The long walk from Egypt to the Promised Land is also a metaphor for the Christian life lived between conversion and being ushered into the presence of Jesus at our death or his second coming. And this long walk, this Christian life, is God’s means of preparing us for heaven, of changing us from weak, immature new believers into mature, trusting, and faithful people of God. These experiences of Israel in the desert parallel our own Christian lives.

So what we see in scripture is that the Israelites, who are weak in faith, are graciously provided for by God. Tonight, we come to the first attack from outside – they meet the enemy and their lives and Gods’ purposes in the world are on the line. “Is the Lord among us or not?” The first thing we learn from this encounter is that the battle in life is real and it is for “all the marbles.”

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