Summary: A sermon focusing on the theme of thirst - of Israel in the wilderness during the Exodus and of the woman at the well and of Jesus on the Cross.
From the wilderness of Sin the whole congregation of the Israelites journeyed by stages, as the Lord commanded. They camped at Rephidim, but there was no water for the people to drink. The people quarreled with Moses, and said, “Give us water to drink.”
Moses said to them, “Why do you quarrel with me? Why do you test the Lord?” But the people thirsted there for water…”
When you are on the CROP walk, one of the pleasant surprises along the way is the way station where there are drinks of cold water to slake your thirst. It just feels so good to drink when you have been exerting yourself.
After you work hard in the garden, or push the lawn mower, or work out, there is nothing like cold water.
Your body craves it.
If you watch Bear Grylls on Man vs Wild, he is always on a quest for fresh drinking water, hard to come by in desert climates where he is sometimes.
Ironically, out at sea, if you are cast adrift, surrounded by water, you can die of thirst.
“Water Water everywhere and all the boards did shrink
Water water everywhere, nor any drop to drink.”
Rime of the ancient mariner. Samuel Taylor Coleridge
“And every tongue through utter drought
Was withered at the root
We could not speak no more than if
We had been choked with soot”
Thirst is deadly.
We live in a country with abundant clean water. We have our rivers and lakes and underground aquifers, and as if that was not enough in the United States, we have the Great Lakes, vast seas with nothing but wonderful fresh water over 20 percent of the world’s fresh water.
But lands our faith springs from faith knew a lot about the desert. Wells in parched regions play a critical role. The whole long chapter 24 of the book of Genesis is about lovely Rebekah at the well. She comes to the well to draw water and Abraham’s servant believes she is the one chosen to be Isaac’s wife. It is a wonderful story. And it clearly demonstrates the crucial nature of sources of water in a dry land in Bible times.
Without water, there is no life.
So when the people of Israel are wandering around the Wilderness of Sin (Sinai Peninsula – an area of harsh desert), where they were required to stay for forty years before entering the Promised Land, it is understandable that the suffered parched throats. “But the people thirsted there for water.”
And they start having second thoughts about being delivered form Egypt. Maybe it wasn’t so bad there after all. Yes, they had been slaves, yes, they had to toil for their taskmasters, but at least they had food and at least they had water. They wouldn’t die there of thirst.
So God provides for the people.
There in the desert, God instructs Moses to take his staff and strike the rock at Horeb, and out from the rock flows clean, pure, cold drinking water. Poland Springs in the desert.
The people are saved. Their thirst assuaged.
God cares if we thirst. It is not God’s will for us to suffer.
We have learned, and we have learned the hard way, that we must care for the environment if we are to have healthful water to drink.
On June 22, 1969, in Cleveland, Ohio, the Cuyahoga River caught fire. It awoke the nation to the disaster we were causing with pollution, there was so much toxic oily discharge in the water and so much debris it actually burned.
Today, the river is much cleaner fish have returned and kayakers paddle on the Cuyahoga.
But we learned, the hard way, we can’t use our rivers and streams for sewers.
We need water to live and we can’t be healthy if our water supply is full of chemicals and sewage.
Because our thirst drives us to the water. We crave it.
Jesus was thirsty one day. He stopped at a well and a woman came with her bucket to draw water. Jesus asked her for a drink.
The woman was a Samaritan and Jews and Samaritans hated each other. “How is it you, a Jew, ask me, a Samaritan, for a drink?” she asked.
Jesus told her that if she had only known who he was, she would have asked him and he would have given her living water.
The Samaritan woman liked that idea. It meant she would no longer have lug water from the well back to her house in town. She knew the phrase “living water.” In a desert country with little rainfall, springs were invaluable. Living water is spring water, bubbling up from the ground. You can cup your hand a drank it and not worry about giardia or any other parasite. You cannot drink the water anywhere in the world like that. Even in pristine wilderness areas, like the Adirondacks, or the mountains of the west or New England. The only water you can drink without sterilizing it is living water. Spring water.