February 24, 2008am     Faith Check          Exodus 17:1-7

by Ronald E. George Jr. at the Fayetteville Baptist Church

You and I will take the test from the Lord.  Will we pass?  God wants us to pass.  Faith is our test.  Will we believe?  This sermon is a faith check for all of us. 

Exodus 17     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. 2 So they quarreled with Moses and said, “Give us water to drink.”
Moses replied, “Why do you quarrel with me? Why do you put the Lord to the test?”
3 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?” 4 Then Moses cried out to the Lord, “What am I to do with these people? They are almost ready to stone me.”
5 The Lord answered Moses, “Walk on ahead of the people. Take with you some of the elders of Israel and take in your hand the staff with which you struck the Nile, and go. 6 I will stand there before you by the rock at Horeb. Strike the rock, and water will come out of it for the people to drink.” So Moses did this in the sight of the elders of Israel. 7 And he called the place Massaha and Meribahb because the Israelites quarreled and because they tested the Lord saying, “Is the Lord among us or not?”

Scenerio number 1:  Problems come up along the way for God’s people.  Could this be a test from God?  Could this be a faith check?  What to do now?  There is no water to drink. 

  1. People’s complaint:  Their needs were not being met.  They said that Moses had delivered them to die in the wilderness without water.  They wanted to live and they had a right to have some water.  They failed to remember God’s deliverance.  They doubted God’s power to deliver them.  What could they have done?  They tested the Lord by saying:  Is the Lord going to take care of us or not? 


  1. Trust God to provide and ask Moses where did they put the water. 
  1. Quarrel with Moses and complain about him not having packed enough water for the trip.  They said Is the Lord going to take care of us or not? 


  1. Go get your own water and don’t bother God or Moses. 
  1. Pray and wait for God to provide as He has before.  Remember when…


Scenerio number 2:  Problems come up along the way for God’s leaders.    Moses has to decide how to handle the situation.  The people need water.  Where is he going to get some for them?  The people are complaining that he is a lousy leader.  He hasn’t thought of how to provide for the people.  Could this be a test from God?  Could this be a faith check for Moses? 
Moses’ Complaint:  The people are going to stone me.  It’s your fault.  You brought me out here to lead the people and now they’re going to kill me.  I don’t know what to do.  I didn’t bring enough water.  My resources are running out.  Moses talked to the Lord and the Lord told him what to do.  What could Moses do? 

  1. Moses can leave.  He can quit and go back to tending sheep on the hillside. 


  1. Moses can complain and cry to God because the people are ready to stone him. 
  1. Moses can pray and ask God to help him to lead these people.  Didn’t God call him to this task?  Will God provide for him and the people? 


Scenerio number three:  Problems arise for God and his people. 
God’s chosen people were doubting his power to sustain them through the wilderness. 
God’s complaint:  You’re never happy with me.  You don’t trust me, even after I have delivered you out of Egypt.  You don’t remember who I am or what I’ve done.  You don’t have faith to believe I love you and I won’t let you die.  I want to put you to the test to strengthen you, so you will see and trust me.  You don’t know me or what I can do for you. 

God’s solution:  Can water come out of a rock?  Can God do the impossible and cause miracles to happen on your behalf?  God’s test of faith is to strengthen you.  Will you drink the water that comes from the Rock?  Will you take someone with you?  Will you believe that I will be there with you beside the Rock?  Remember the past victories like crossing the Red Sea?  Take the staff that I used in your hand.  Will you strike the rock in faith and believing?  Will you pass the test?  Problems will pass but will you pass the test? 

God’s test: 

  1. Will you walk on with the Lord, even when problems arise?  
  1. Will you still follow God’s direction when things are hard and people, children, and livestock are dying of thirst? 


  1. Will you take some of the others with you?   Don’t go it alone.  You need some help. 
  1. Will you remember that  I will stand there before you by the rock.  Jesus is the rock in a weary land.  He is the shelter in the time of storm. 


I Cor. 10:1  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.  2  They were all baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea.  3  They all ate the same spiritual food  4  and drank the same spiritual drink; for they drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them, and that rock was Christ.

a Massah means testing.

b Meribah means quarreling.

The Holy Bible : New International Version (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1996, c1984). Ex 17:1-7.