Exodus 17:1-7, John 4:5-42
Questions explode in desert air. The preacher fires first: “Why do you quarrel with me?” “Why do you test the Lord?” The people retort: “Why did you bring us out of Egypt to kill us?” Then the preacher appeals to the Lord: “What shall I do with this people?” And then a later editor adds the question that is the prequel and sequel to all questions: “Is the Lord among us or not?”
Well, what did you expect besides argument? This is not Israel’s first or last time to pick a fight with the preacher. These are knockdown-drag-out struggles. Much of Israel’s rich and embarrassing memory takes place in wilderness. There’s Israel cavorting before a golden calf as Moses comes from the mountain with the Ten Commandments. Hear stone breaking against rock as Moses explodes in anger. “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? For there is no food and no water, and we detest this miserable food.” There’s Israel dodging poisonous snakes. Israel’s record is not squeaky clean, but a mixture of faith and mistrust, of courage and cowardice.
Sound familiar? Additional texts are Psalm 95 and Romans 5:1-11.