“And he named the place Massah and Meribah… and Amalek came and fought against Israel at Rephidim.” (Exodus 17:7, 8).
Where are they? Rephidim. “So what” you say? I discovered that Rephidim in Hebrew has different meanings. It could mean “supports” which is a convenient definition since it is here that Moses’ hands were supported by Aaron and Hur, which led to the Israelite victory (Exodus 17:11). Another definition I found is “rests” or “stays” or “resting places.” I see how these two definitions might be similar, since “rests” and “supports” appear to be the same idea.
But the idea of “resting places” intrigues me because it is here, at Rephidim, where the people of Israel were doing anything but resting.
First they were fussing about the lack of drinking water. So much were they ticked off at Moses that they intended to stone him and go back to Egypt (Exodus 17:3, 4). Leave it to the people of God to forsake all they know to be true… that God loves them, that Moses was God’s deliverer, that God provided for them… like the Red Sea crossing (Exodus 14:21), quail for dinner (Exodus 16:13), manna for breakfast (Exodus 16:14, 15, 31)… and then complain. Not much has changed in 3500 years. When life gets hard we tend to blame God rather than the enemy. Think about it, how many swear words do you know that include the name of or reference to Satan (the adversary) or Lucifer or the devil?
They were also fighting for their very existence. Rather than a honorable adversary who fought on the battlefield, they had an enemy that attacked the weak and weary (Deuteronomy 25:18). Remember that it was here at Rephidim that the people grumbled about having no water and turned against Moses (Exodus 17:1, 3). After the water came from the rock, perhaps Rephidim could be a “resting place” but they named the place Massah (from the root word “to test”) and Meribah (meaning strife or argument) (see Exodus 17:7).
My point here is that in a location called, “resting places” the enemy came to attack. After they received the refreshing waters from the rock (Exodus 17:6) and a full tummy of manna each morning, there was an enemy ready to fight against them. Our enemy comes to us when we are most comfortable and vulnerable. At times we have a false sense of security, believing that since everything is going our way, we are not in danger. I used to tell my teenagers, if you don’t bump into the devil every once in a while, you might just be travelling in the same direction.
Accountability and men… when you are comfortable, you will often compromise or slide into places that you never thought you’d be. Moses told the people they should not test God (Exodus 17:2, 7), so let us not test him by pushing ourselves up to the line we said we would never cross. In a moment of weakness we can cross that line and have enormous regrets. We are accountable to God, so let’s not fuss and fight with God or His leaders on earth because there is a real enemy out there who seeks to steal, kill and destroy (John 10:10). Come to the place of rest and keep watch. Allow God to bless your life while you offer thanksgiving and obedience to Him each day.