He called the place Massa [proof] and Meribah [contention] because of the faultfinding of the Israelites and because they tempted and tried the patience of the Lord, saying, “Is the Lord among us or not?” Exodus 17:7
Moses, directed by God with such intimate care. How beautiful to witness such respect between the Lord God and imperfect man. By the hand of the Lord, Israel overcame bondage in Egypt and traveled the wilderness for decades—not easily lead by Moses—because of the complaining, ungrateful chosen people.
The first time that the Lord led Moses to receive water out of the rock at Meribah [strife] the people proved surly. Their need so real that their sharpened tongues spilled out cutting demands to Moses, “Give us water that we may drink.” As though Moses could provide! Their respectful fear of the Lord God Almighty seemed to have evaporated with the thirst that deprived their company. Forgetfulness abounded concerning who truly lead them and provided for them. God’s sweet grace, a favored gift that glorified Him even when the actions and attitudes of His chosen did not, directed Moses to lead them to the rock of blessing.
Moses obeyed when told to take his rod and strike the rock, which released the flow of refreshing water that saved the lives and livestock of Israel. Such miracles! Such glory to have the Lord’s provision. If only Israel preferred the attitude of looking forward and holding onto the expectation of what the Lord would accomplish with their trials and roadblocks and needs.
Take the rod, and assemble the congregation, you and Aaron your brother, and tell the rock before their eyes to give forth its water, and you shall bring forth to them water out of the rock; so you shall give the congregation and their livestock drink. Numbers 20:8
Eventually, Miriam had passed away and Moses was much older when 38 years later Israel was lead back to Meribah [strife]. Their tongues parched, angry, and as demanding as before. Violence directed their attitudes. The Lord was still as patient and able. Yet, the people barked orders to Moses—still not looking to their Lord God. The Lord told Moses to pick up the rod and speak to the rock. This time, Moses called Israel Rebels and preformed his service of ministry his own way. For Moses took up the rod and struck the rock—twice. I wonder if he panicked when after striking once, nothing come out. Lifegiving water would come, but the cost of Moses lack of obedience forfeited his entrance into the promise land.
Did God love Moses any less? Did He love Israel any less? No, nor does Father God’s love for us minimize with our lack and indifference. But oh how the angels rejoice when we do all as unto the Lord and seek to please Him. Yes, lets! Find what pleases the Lord and your heart and peace will be like a garden so sweet and fragrant that even our enemies will notice His call. Who knows but they may respond to such grace and largeness of life unnatural to the natural man.
But You, O Lord, are a shield for me, my glory, and the lifter of my head. Psalms 3:3