The Berean Expositor
Volume 14 - Page 38 of 167
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The names given to this place, Massah and Meribah, perpetuate Israel's tempting of
God and their striving with Moses. The "tempting" of the Lord is contained in the
"Is the Lord among us or not" (Exod. 17: 7).
Do we not trace the same spirit at work as led the Lord Jesus to say:--
"Except ye see signs and wonders, ye will not believe?" (John 4: 48).
In the case in point (John 4: 48) the nobleman did believe the bare word of the Lord,
without signs and wonders, but with the generality it was not so. The fame of the Lord
had gone throughout the length and breadth of the land; the leper had been cleansed, the
demon-possessed had been delivered, the dead had been raised (Matt. 4:-11:). Yet after
all these evidences the Scribes and Pharisees said:--
"Master, we would SEE A SIGN from Thee!" (Matt. 12: 38).
Israel too in the wilderness had signs in abundance, yet with the pillar of cloud before
their eyes, and the table spread in the wilderness, they rose up and said.
"Is the Lord among us or not?" (Exod. 17: 7).
What a blessed contrast is seen in the case of the prophet Habakkuk. To him the word
had come:--
"The vision is yet for an appointed time . . . . . wait for it . . . . . the just shall live by
his faith" (Hab. 2: 3, 4).
We see how this man "lived by his faith" by the closing verses of chapter 3::--
"Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labour
of the olive shall fail; and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the
fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the
God of my salvation" (Hab. 3: 17, 18).
Here is a contrast with Israel in the wilderness. The one tempted the Lord in the
presence of want, the other trusted Him. For ourselves we would seek the higher lesson.
Not merely to trust the Lord because we know that in spite of appearances He will
supply, but to trust Him, as Job did, saying "though He slay me, yet will I trust Him". To
trust Him as the three Hebrew youths did when they told Nebuchadnezzar that even if the
Lord did not deliver them from the burning fiery furnace, yet would they trust and obey.
To accustom oneself to look for signs may be an evidence of unbelief. To the church the
word comes:--
"We walk by faith, not by sight" (II Cor. 5: 7).