Discussion Questions: Exodus 17:1-7


Sermon manuscript available at

  • What does it mean to walk by sight? What does it mean to walk by faith? Does walking by faith require us to ignore what we see with our natural eyes? 
  • How might a Christian learn to be driven, not by their passions and cravings, but by the Word of God and the Spirit of God? How might a Christian practice this way of life so as to become mature in it?

How might a Christian learn to find their satisfaction in God and in Christ? Is this something that can be learned, is it a gift that must be given, or is it both?

Posted in Study Guides, Gospel Community Groups, Gospel Community Groups, Joe Anady, Exodus 17:1-7, Posted by Joe. Comments Off on Discussion Questions: Exodus 17:1-7

Morning Sermon: Exodus 17:1-7, Water From The Rock

New Testament Reading: 1 Corinthians 10:1-14

“For I do not want you to be unaware, brothers, that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea, and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, and all ate the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank from the spiritual Rock that followed them, and the Rock was Christ. Nevertheless, with most of them God was not pleased, for they were overthrown in the wilderness. Now these things took place as examples for us, that we might not desire evil as they did. Do not be idolaters as some of them were; as it is written, ‘The people sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play.’ We must not indulge in sexual immorality as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in a single day. We must not put Christ to the test, as some of them did and were destroyed by serpents, nor grumble, as some of them did and were destroyed by the Destroyer. Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come. Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall. No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry.” (1 Corinthians 10:1–14, ESV)

Old Testament Reading: Exodus 17:1-7

“All the congregation of the people of Israel moved on from the wilderness of Sin by stages, according to the commandment of the LORD, and camped at Rephidim, but there was no water for the people to drink. Therefore the people quarreled with Moses and said, ‘Give us water to drink.’ And Moses said to them, ‘Why do you quarrel with me? Why do you test the LORD?’ But the people thirsted there for water, and the people grumbled against Moses and said, ‘Why did you bring us up out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and our livestock with thirst?’ So Moses cried to the LORD, ‘What shall I do with this people? They are almost ready to stone me.’ And the LORD said to Moses, ‘Pass on before the people, taking with you some of the elders of Israel, and take in your hand the staff with which you struck the Nile, and go. Behold, I will stand before you there on the rock at Horeb, and you shall strike the rock, and water shall come out of it, and the people will drink.’ And Moses did so, in the sight of the elders of Israel. And he called the name of the place Massah and Meribah, because of the quarreling of the people of Israel, and because they tested the LORD by saying, ‘Is the LORD among us or not?’” (Exodus 17:1–7, ESV)


Please excuse any typos and misspellings within this manuscript. It has been published online for the benefit of the saints of Emmaus Reformed Baptist Church but without the benefit of proofreading.


You know, as we consider this text I think it is right for us to sympathize with Israel a little. Obviously, we will eventually come to critique them for their grumbling and for their lack of faith, for the text does certainly draw our attention to their failings. The Apostle Paul does the same thing in his letter to the Corinthians. The failings of Israel are emphasized there and we are exhorted by the Apostle to not do as they did when they grumbled against the LORD. 

When I say that we should sympathize with Israel I mean, we should acknowledge the difficulty of their situation. Life in Egypt was all they had known. They were slaves there, and now they were free. Everything was new to them. And when the LORD led them out of Egypt, he led them into a very challenging place. They did not go immediately into a land flowing with milk and honey. No, the LORD  led them into the wilderness to be tested and trained there. 

By the way, this was the mercy of God. That might sound like a strange thing to say, but it is true. God, in grace, led Israel into the wilderness to test them and to train them there. No testing is pleasant in the moment, but as you look back upon it, you can see the blessing in it, can’t you? You can see the grace of God in the trial. You can see the growth that came from it. You can see the refinement that took place. I’ve experienced this, and I trust that you have too. 

Israel was tested by God in the wilderness, and I think it is right for us to acknowledge the severity of the test. They were sojourning in a desolate, dry, and thirsty land. Now, their claim in the previous passage that they were about to starve to death was a bit overblown. I addressed that in the previous sermon. They still had flocks. Really, they grumbled against God there, being driven by their cravings. It was not so much about needs but wants. But here we are told that Israel ran out of water again. I’m sure they carried water with them when they left the springs of Marah, but it was about gone, and there were no water sources in sight. That would be a terrifying experience, don’t you agree? A person can live without food for weeks. A person can go without water for only a short time – a couple of days, especially in a harsh environment such as the one the Israelites were in. And we should remember that there were not one or two men sojourning in the wilderness, but a great multitude of men, women, and children, along with their flocks. If water was not found quickly, there would be a tremendous loss of life. I don’t think we should not minimize the severity of their situation. This was a true test of Israel’s faith, and I think it is right for us to put ourselves there in their shoes, and even to attempt to think and to feel what they thought and felt. 

Their error was not that they were deeply concerned, anxious about their situation, perplexed or afraid. No, their error was in their response. They grumbled and complained against God as they panicked. The people were so worked up about their situation that Moses felt as if they were about to stone him to death. So I am saying that their concerns were understandable. And rational human being would be concerned and even worried about the lack of water in a situation like that. The trouble was in the way they responded. 

 And they should have known better, don’t you agree? They should have known better, for the LORD had given these people his word. Promises were made to their forefathers, and more recently the LORD spoke to them through Moses. The declared will of the LORD was to bring them out of Egyot and to the land that was promised to them. More than this, the LORD had proven himself faithful. He proved himself faithful in the days of Abraham, Issac, Jacob, and Joseph. He proved himself faithful during Israel’s stay in Egypt. And very recently had proven his faithfulness in the outpouring of the plagues on the Egyptians and by the deliverance of the Hebrews through the Red Sea. 

So yes, the trial was severe. The situation seemed very dire. But Israel was called by the LORD to walk by faith. They were called to trust him. The LORD had proven himself faithful and able. And here Israel is found failing a test yet again. They were tested concerning the provision of water, food, and now water again. God supplied them with what they needed in the first two instances. But here they are grumbling again. Sometimes we are slow learners, wouldn’t you agree? But God is patient with his people.  

What can we learn from this story that is before us today?


Christian Sojourners Must Walk By Faith Not By Sight 

First of all, we must see that Christian sojourners must learn to walk by faith and not by sight. 

You’ve heard that expression before, haven’t you? It comes from 2 Corinthians 5:7 where Paul says, “So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight. Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord.” (2 Corinthians 5:6–8, ESV)

When Paul speaks of walking he speaks metaphorically of the way in which a person lives their life. In particular, in this passage he is concerned to address the guiding force of one’s life. All who live do walk. The question is, what will inform our walking? What will motivate us to walk in the way that we do. Paul states that he and his Christian companions walk as they do because they walk by faith and not by sight. 

To walk by sight is to have our thoughts, words, and actions, motivated only, or ultimalty, by what we see with your natural eyes and perceive with your natural reason. This is what Israel did when they were about out of water in the wilderness. The people looked at their empty water vessels. They looked out upon the barren landscape. And when they saw no green thing, their hearts were filled with terror. And so they looked at Moses with anger in their hearts, and they thought to do him harm as they began to grumble and complain with their lips. The people of Israel thought, spoke, and prepared to act being driven by what they saw with their natural eyes only. 

To walk by faith does not mean that we must ignore what we see with our natural eyes and perceive with our natural reason. What we see with our eyes certainly does matter. God’s people must live in this world with eyes wide open. We, like all people, must perceive the world around us. We must then think and feel, speak, and act based upon what we see. If you are human, this experience of perceiving the world, processing what you see, and responding inwardly and outwardly cannot be avoided. But to walk by faith means that we take something else into consideration – something that cannot be perceived by our natural eyes or our natural reason alone – and we give that thing priority. And what is that thing? It is faith in God and his word.  

The Hebrews perceived that they were in danger in the wilderness. Their water vessels were about empty and there was no water source in sight. All of that was true, and it was a big and serious problem that needed to be addressed. Where did they go wrong, then? They failed to bring God and his word into the equation. As I have already said, the LORD had spoken to them. He spoke to their forefathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. He entrusted them with precious and very great promises. More than this, he recently spoke to them through Moses and he proved himself to be powerfully present with them through the plagues and by working their deliverance. Israel’s error was that they thought, felt, spoke and acted based only upon what they saw with their natural eyes. They walked by sight and not by faith. 

Christian sojourners must walk by faith not by sight. 

Brothers and sisters, are you walking by faith? Are you being driven to think, feel, speak and act, not only by what you see with your natural eyes, but by what you know to be true because God has spoken? 

If we wish to walk faithfully in this world in a way that will count for all eternity and in a way that be to glory of God, then we must learn to walk by faith. We must learn to bring God’s word into the equation as we perceive and interpret the world around us. And when I say that we are to bring God’s word into the equation I do not mean that we are to set it alongside our natural perception and natural reason as if it were of equal weight and worth. No, God’s word is to permeate and inform our perception of the world around us and our lives in it. 

I can hear the voices of our critics now. They say, if these Christains do what this man is saying then they will not live according to reality. They will be living in a fantasy land. If they do in fact perceive the world through the lenses of God’s revelation, then everything  that they see in the world will be perceived as having an unnatural hue. Can you hear the voices of our critics, brothers and sisters?

And in response we say, no. God’s word – God’s revelation – does not distort our perception of reality, but enables us to see reality with greater vividness and clarity than can be enjoyed without it. Friends, in our natural and fallen state we are blind to the truth. In our natural and fallen state, our perception of reality is dim and distorted. When the Lord regenerates his people by his word and Spirit, he gives them eyes to see. To perceive the world through the lense of God’s word does not require the Chrisian to ignore or detach from reality. No, it enables us to see God, the world that he has made, and our lives in it, as they truly are.

Brothers and sisters, we must walk by faith not by sight. This is a choice that we must make.  It will not happen automatically, nor will it also come easily. So how do we do it?

You know, it is not uncommon to hear pastors exhort Christians to be in church on the Lord’s Day, to pay careful attention to the reading and preaching of the word of God, and to read the scriptures for themselves to meditate upon them day by day. There is a reason for this. To live a life of faith one must hear, receive, and believe God’s word. You cannot walk by faith without it. Without God’s word the only thing you have to live by is sight – natural sight, and natural reason. But God’s word illuminates the reality of things. God’s allows us to see the world and our circumstances as they truly are. 

For the Hebrews, they perceived with their natural eyes that their situation was dire. But they failed to perceive their situation with eyes of faith. They forgot God’s promises to them. They forgot God’s word. They lost sight of the reality of his presence, his power, and his faithfulness. And so they responded to their situation as they did with grumbling, complaining, and even rebelliousness. 

How will it be for us, brothers and sisters? How will we do in the heat of the moment when faced with the trials and tribulations of life? How will we fair when tested? If we hope to walk by faith and not by sight, we better know God’s word and have treasured up in our hearts. We better learn to see the world and our lives in it through the lense of God’s revelation.


Christian Sojourners Must Be Driven By The Word Of God And Spirit Of God, Not By Their Passions And Cravings

Christian sojourners must walk by faith not by sight. And somewhat connected to this, Christian sojourners must be driven by the Word  of God and the Spirit of God, not by their passions and cravings.   

I’ll spend less time  developing this second point because it truly is a subset of the first. To walk by faith and not by sight requires that we learn to be moved, not by our worldly passions and cravings, but by God’s word and by God’s Spirit. 

Passion is celebrated in our culture.  And if by “passion” we mean that someone cares deeply about something, is devoted to that thing, works hard at that thing, and noticeably excited about that thing, I do not necessarily have a problem with that. In this sense, it is not wrong to “passionate” about your work, or “passionate” about your family.

But taken in another sense, “passion” can be a big problem. The word may also be used to describe a person who is driven by their cravings and emotions. Used in this way, passionate people lack self control. They are impetuous. They think little before speaking and acting. They may think of themself as being most free, for they will not allow their words or behavior to be constrained by the opinions of others or by the expectations of society – they are who they are, and everyone can take it or leave it! But in reality, passionate people are not free. They are slaves to their own emotions. They are driven this way and that by their cravings. The man who is given to the passion of anger is not free, but a slave, etc. 

Using the word in this way, I say that Christian sojourners must not celebrate passion as if it were a virtue, but rather self control. The one who has self control will not be driven to think, speak and do by their appetites or by what they experience in the world around them. No, they will be drive instead by what they know to be right and true in their mind and heart.   

Listen to what the scriptures have to say about self control. 

Proverbs 25:28: “A man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls.” Think about that imagery for a moment. Again, “A man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls.” In other words, a man without self control is constantly overrun, defeated, and exposed to danger. By what? By the enemy without and within. 

Listen to Peter. He wrote to Christian sojourners, saying, “For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (2 Peter 1:5–8, ESV)

Peter urges us to make every effort to add these qualities to the faith that we have. In other words, do you have sincere faith in Christ? Great! Indeed, that is the main thing. Indeed, that is the means by which we come to have the forgiveness of sins and the hope of life eternal. It is through faith in Christ that we come to be saved. But do not stop there. No, you must grow from there. You must now mature in the fath. Add to your faith, virtue, knowledge, self-control, steadfastness, godliness, brotherly affection, and love. We do not earn our salvation by obtaining these qualities. No, salvation is a gift from God. It is received by the grace of God alone, through faith in Christ alone. To quote Peter again, “if these qualities are [ours] and are increasing, they keep [us] from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 1:5–8, ESV). 

Self-control, Biblically speaking, is not only the ability to be calm, cool, and collected under pressure. Instead, it is the ability to think, speak, and act carefully according to the word of God, being led by the Spirit of God. In other words, we are not merely pursuing a calm and docile disposition. No, we are seeking to be governed – driven – by God’s word and by God’s Spirit in every circumstance. 

Listen to Paul in Galations 5:19-24: “Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.” (Galatians 5:19–24, ESV). 

So then, you can see that to be self-controlled is not to be self-governed. Instead, to be self-controlled is to be governed, led, driven, not by the flesh, and the passions of the flesh, but by God’s word and Spirit. 

You say, Ok , that’s all well and good. But what does this have to do with Exodus 17? Well, as we consider Israel in the wilderness we see that this people, generally speaking, was driven, not by faith, not by the word of God or the Spirit of God, but by their passions. They were moved to thing, speak, and act by their cravings, and by their emotions. I’ve already acknowledged that fear and anxiety was a very natural emotion for the Hebrews to experience. I’m not critiquing them for that! No, the problem was that they allowed themselves to be driven by those emotions. In other words, they lacked self-control. 

I’d like to read a little portion from Psalm 106 to show you that this was the case. The Psalmist was reflecting on the history of Israel when he wrote, “Both we and our fathers have sinned; we have committed iniquity; we have done wickedness. Our fathers, when they were in Egypt, did not consider your wondrous works; they did not remember the abundance of your steadfast love, but rebelled by the sea, at the Red Sea. Yet he saved them for his name’s sake, that he might make known his mighty power. He rebuked the Red Sea, and it became dry, and he led them through the deep as through a desert. So he saved them from the hand of the foe and redeemed them from the power of the enemy. And the waters covered their adversaries; not one of them was left. Then they believed his words; they sang his praise [a reference to the Song of Moses in Exodus 15]. But they soon forgot his works; they did not wait for his counsel. But they had a wanton craving in the wilderness, and put God to the test in the desert; he gave them what they asked, but sent a wasting disease among them” (Psalm 106:6–15, ESV).

So you can see that this is the divinely inspired interpretation of the Exodus narrative. The people of Israel rebelled against God and against his servant Moses because they forgot the LORD’s steadfast love, his wondrous works, and word – they did not wait for his counsel – they were driven by their wanton or unholy cravings. 

Brothers and sisters, this is the way of the natural man. What else will men and women be driven by if they are not born of God’s word and Spirit?  The only thing that can drive them is their natural desire. And this would not be a problem if the desires of man were pure, but they are not, for we have fallen into sin. Instead of desiring the glory of God and obedience to his moral law, men and women do by nature seek their own glory and are drawn to that which is unholy and profane. 

But those who have faith in Christ have been born of God’s word and Spirit. We are to be governed – driven – to think, feel, say, and do, not by our natural and sinful passion, but by the word of God and the Spirit of God. 

Here’s the trouble. Those of faith who have been born again by God’s word and Spirit sojourn in a fallen and sinful world. There are temptations all around us. And though it is true that we have been born, it is also true that corruptions remain in us. The flesh wars against the Spirit. We are often tempted, even by the desires within us, to think, feel, say and do that which is evil. So it is a battle, then – a daily and momentary battle.  

This is why Paul exhorts Christians, saying, “The night is far gone; the day is at hand. So then let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light…  [Let us] put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.” (Romans 13:12–14, ESV)    


Christian Sojourners Must Find Their Satisfaction In God And In Christ

The third and final point of the sermon is this: Christian sojourners must find their satisfaction in God and in Christ. I have not left myself much time to develop this point – it deserves more, for it is key. Again I say, Christian sojourners must find their satisfaction in God and in Christ.

It is quite natural, and not at all evil, for humans to long for satisfaction. God made us this way in the beginning. We long to be satisfied, to be comforted, to be filled. The question is, where will we find this satisfaction?  I suppose we may speak of man’s fall into sin in these terms. Adam was to find his satisfaction in God, in giving glory to God, and in obedience to God’s commands. But he listened to a lie. He listened to the voice of the Evil One who claimed that he would be more satisfied if he would live for his own glory and decide for himself what is right and wrong, good and evil. The Serpent is a liar. He was a liar in the beginning, and he is a liar to this present day. The lie that he tells is the same. Satisfaction is found, not in God, but in this world and in the things of this world. Pay no attention to what God has said. He’s a killjoy. Live for yourself. Live for your own glory. Decide for yourself what is right and wrong, good and evil. Indulge the passions of your flesh. That is where true satisfaction is found. And those who listen to  will learn the same lesson that Adam learned. Truly, the wages of sin is death.  

This impulse that we have within us to be satisfied is not evil. In fact, it is good, for it is meant to drive us to our Creator, and now to our Redeemer, in whom true satisfaction is found. 

Pay careful attention to the lessons that the LORD taught to Israel in the wilderness. These lessons were for them, and they are also for us. There is a theme developing. Many within Israel had their eyes fixed only on the earth and on the things of this earth. They craved water and they craved food. And the LORD provided these things for them, for he is faithful. But notice that he provided these necessities of life for them in such a way so as to communicate to them that true satisfaction is to be found in him. 

Are you following me, friends? Pay attention to the way in which the LORD provided for the natural needs of the Hebrews. He could have led them anywhere, and yet he led them into to the wilderness to test them and to teach them. And could have provided their needs in very natural ways. He could have led from spring to spring. He could have moved the surrounding nations to show kindness to them. But he led them into these situations where no natural solution was found. The LORD then provided for them supernatural so that it was abundantly clear that he, the LORD God of Israel, was the source of their life and of their satisfaction. 

The bread that they ate in the wilderness was supernaturally from the LORD. It satisfied their physical hunger. But the LORD was also calling Israel (many of who disbelieve) to trust in him and be satisfied in him in the soul. 

And so too the water that Israel drank was supernaturally from the LORD. Moses struck a rock with his staff at the command of the LORD and water gushed forth! The water satisfied their physical thirst. But the LORD was also calling Israel to trust in him and be satisfied in him in the soul. 

More than this, the LORD was also communicating to Israel that he would provide for all of their needs – not only their immediate and physical needs, but also their eternal and spiritual needs – by sending the Christ.

This may sound far fetched, but you must remember the word of God and the promises of God that had been given to the Heberew. When the bread fell from heaven, and the water gushed from the rock, it came from the LORD who had spoken to the Hebrews previously. These were entrusted with the word of God. They knew what is now recorded for us in the pages of Genesis. They knew about creation, the fall, and God’s plan of redemption. They knew of the promises that were made to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob concerning a land, and nation. They also knew about the promises concerning the Christ. One would arise from amongst them who would bless the nations, who would deal with the problem of sin and death that came into the world through Adam. This word that we now have in writing in the pages of Genesis was entrusted to them. They knew this story (or at least they should have).  They understood these promises (or at least some of them did). So they had at their disposal the information they needed to understand that the bread from heaven was not just to meet the need of their physical hunger, and the water from the rock was not just to meet their physical thirst. No, they were being called to run to God, their Creator and Redeemer, to trust in him for all things temporal and eternal, and to find their satisfaction in him now and for all eternity. They were called, as are we, to feast and to drink of God and of his Christ by faith.

Not all in Israel understood this. In fact, many must have remained ignorant. Look at how they responded! But some knew. The LORD always has a remnant. And when Christ and his Apostles looked back upon these Exodus event and the wilderness wanderings, they knew that this was their true meaning. 

Listen to the interpretation that Jesus Christ gave of this passage. Jesus spoke to those who had followed him into the wilderness, who had eaten of the bread that was multiplied. “‘Truly, truly, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but my Father gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.’ They said to him, ‘Sir, give us this bread always.’ Jesus said to them, ‘I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.’” (John 6:32–35, ESV)

And listen again to Paul in 1 Corinathians 10. “For I do not want you to be unaware, brothers, that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea, and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, and all ate the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank from the spiritual Rock that followed them, and the Rock was Christ.”

Israel was being called by these external means to walk by faith and not by sight, to be driven, not by their passions and cravings, but by the word of God and by his Spirit, and to find their satisfaction, not in the things of this earth, but in God and the Christ who was promised to them. “Now these things took place as examples for us, that we might not desire evil as they did.” 



Let us bow for prayer. 

Father in heaven, help us to walk worthy before you in this world. Strengthen us to walk by faith and not by sight. Change us inwardly so that we are driven, not by sinful passions, but by your word and Spirit. Sanctify us further so that we find our satisfaction, not in earthly and temporal things, but in you, O God, and in Christ who has redeemed us by his shed blood. Amen.  

Posted in Sermons, Joe Anady, Exodus 17:1-7, Posted by Joe. Comments Off on Morning Sermon: Exodus 17:1-7, Water From The Rock

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