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Thirsting for God’s Presence Thirsting for God’s Presence

Thirsting for God’s Presence


Thirst is a common experience for us, because water is fundamental to our survival. Although humans can live for several weeks without food, we can only survive a few days without water. In view of this, perhaps we should not be surprised that the Israelites became anxious when they camped at Rephidim and saw that there was no water.

But this was not the first time Israel grumbled about God’s provision, nor would it be the last. Earlier in their journey, God’s people had grumbled because the water they found at Marah was undrinkable (Ex. 15:22–27). While traveling through the desert of Sin, they complained about food, saying that their circumstances had been better in Egypt (Ex. 16:1–3). They recalled being fed from cauldrons of meat. In reality, their memory was selective; they had forgotten that slavery had also been on the menu in Egypt. The cauldrons were not as full as they remembered.

Later, when the Israelites arrived at Kadesh, they would complain to Moses again using similar words (Num. 20:3–5). On each of these occasions God provided in a miraculous way. At Rephidim and Kadesh He miraculously caused water to flow from a rock.

The apostle Paul saw a parallel in these incidents to the church’s experience, noting that Israel drank from “the spiritual rock which followed them” and identifying this rock with Christ (1 Cor. 10:4). Rabbinic tradition described a rock or a well that traveled with God’s people through the wilderness, and it looks like Paul amplifies that in order to make a spiritual point in this verse. The same Christ who sustained Israel in the wilderness also sustains us. But those who enjoyed God’s provision did not always learn the important lesson of faith from what they had experienced (1 Cor. 10:5).

Pray with Us

Please lift up in prayer our Digital Marketing team—Emily Alvarado Bohm, Jacob Rositano, Karsten Smith, Kiel Russell, and Noelle Bud—as they oversee web content, email marketing, product development, digital advertising, and social media.

BY Dr. John Koessler

John Koessler is Professor Emeritus of Applied Theology and Church Ministries at Moody Bible Institute. John authors the “Practical Theology” column for Today in the Word of which he is also a contributing writer and theological editor. An award-winning author, John’s newest title is When God is Silent: Let the Bible Teach You to Pray (Kirkdale). Prior to joining the Moody faculty, he served as a pastor of Valley Chapel in Green Valley, Illinois, for nine years. He and his wife, Jane, now enjoy living in a lakeside town in Michigan.

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