Imagine driving on a long business, family, or reunion gathering road trip. Short of your destination, you stop to clean up, shower, rest, relax and recharge for the rest of the way. Great news, you find the only hotel around, convenient, several rooms available at a fair price. You check in, gather your things, head to your room, unpack, and breathe a sigh of relief. But in the bathroom, you discover NO WATER in the sink, toilet, or shower! How would you react and handle this situation?
Previously, the children of Israel had complained to Moses (and God) about the lack of food. They did not want to die of hunger in the wilderness, but would rather die in Egypt, full of meat and bread (16:2-3). In response, the Lord uniquely and abundantly provides manna and quail (16:4-18–and did so for the next 40 years–16:35). Now, in Chapter 17, the people complain of thirst and question whether God provides, even though he had miraculously done so just two months before (15:23-25). Once again, the Lord and Moses are put to the test. How Moses fares and how God comes through this time, we are about to find out.
Have someone in the group read Exodus 17: 1-16. While it is being read, imagine yourself and others that you love or care about thirsty and unbathed in this camp with you.
Finding My Story in God’s Story
- What would be your initial reaction if you were in this camp?
- No worries. Just another test from God, where he’ll prove himself faithful and true.
- “Why just sit here, dying of thirst? Do something, Moses!”
- “You can’t be serious, God!? NO WATER?? Is this just another one of your tests??
- I’d shut down, disconnect from the group: “I didn’t sign up for this crap.”
- Other __________.
2. Why do you think the congregation responded with a similar complaint from the previous chapter: “Why did you bring us up out of Egypt to make us, our children, and our livestock die of thirst?”
- “Complaining got us food the first time, so more complaints should get us water.”
- “The previous situation is irrelevant, we were hungry then, but we are thirsty now.”
- It is just a normal human reaction to complain when deprived of something we need.
- They forgot what God can and will do: “What have you done for me lately?”
- Other __________.
3. Imagine you are in a position like Moses, with everyone complaining, even trying to take you down. What are you thinking and feeling at this point—and why?
- “Who are ‘these people’ to question me and the Lord?”
- “What must I do to please them and keep my job?”
- “Not only for my life, but I fear what happens next when they tempt the Lord.”
- “Everything I’ve tried only fuels further complaining.”
- Other __________.
4. Which characters in this story do you most closely resemble or gravitate towards—and why?
- I can see myself navigating a bunch of complainers through unfamiliar territory.
- Joshua, Aaron, or Hur. I’d do whatever it takes to support the lead guy.
- The congregation. Quick to criticize leadership or question what God is up to.
- I don’t really see myself in any of these characters or roles.
- Some from each character.
5. In battling the Amalekites, Israel prevailed when Moses held up his hands, but the enemy prevailed when he let down his hands. To help secure victory, Aaron and Hur supported Moses’ hands—one on his left side, the other on his right. Can you name two people who you would confidently call on to support you and hold you up amidst a struggle
- If so, reach out to them this week. Share your love and appreciation for them in your life.
6. This chapter concludes with a victory, memorial and an altar named “The LORD Is My Banner.” Can you name a specific moment in your life when God brought victory and you proudly could wave that banner? Share that story with your group.
7. Are you able to recall a moment or a troubling situation that is currently creating doubt? Perhaps it’s a prior situation that still troubles you, but you now see how else you could have handled it.
8. Close in prayer and gratitude for one another.