Several thematic elements continue out of Exodus 15 into chapters 16 and 17 this Lord’s Day. One of the main and very sad themes is that the people keep murmuring against and testing God. After each miraculous milestone, they again doubt standing upon their Rock in fear and unbelief, and complain. Yet God (while He does call them out for these sins and warns us by their example in 1 Cor. 10:6, 11), in His unceasing covenant mercy refreshes them once again with life-giving water. In fact, the wilderness times are to keep teaching them (and us) that we only can be refreshed by the gracious waters that flow only out of Christ the Rock (1 Cor. 10:4).
Augustine, in Book Five of his Confessions, deeply understood this lesson after drinking from sandy cisterns for far too long before drinking of Christ. While he was still in the Manichean heretical movement, he had the opportunity to finally meet and converse with their leader, Faustus, who was known for his great oratory and presentation. But Augustine found Faustus to be unsatisfying in handling his own personal questions, and lacking in comparison to his own academic knowledge and abilities. So Augustine was left thirsty after the encounter with this man of great eloquence who yet offered no sustaining spiritual substance. A lesson Augustine said he learned was what Colossians 2:8 teaches: Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.
Augustine put it this way (you’ll see how it ties in with our text from Exodus 15 last week and into our text in Exodus 16 and 17 this Lord’s Day):
But what did it matter how well the cupbearer spoke, if he was unable to give me the drink that will quench my thirst?
Thankfully, Augustine listened to Jesus’ call: … If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. (John 7:37), and he drank — and He was satisfied to keep drinking of Him, for Christ filled him with springs of living water (John 7:38). Christ still cries out to us to drink of Him. And tomorrow night in the Lord’s Supper, to drink of His blood:
Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you. Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him. (John 6:53-56)
Some of us were talking after the morning service last week, and Mr. Delgado said something that I’ve enjoyed meditating on: when you’re thirsty, there is nothing better than a cup of pure cold water; we all know this is true, and with that in mind, let us approach our Savior in worship and the Holy Supper this Lord’s Day with the same thirst that David expresses in our Psalm of the month for worship, Psalm 63: O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee: my soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth for thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is; To see thy power and thy glory, so as I have seen thee in the sanctuary. Because thy lovingkindness is better than life, my lips shall praise thee. (vss. 1-3).
Notice that, according to the title of Psalm 63, David wrote it while he was literally in the wilderness. He was being proved (trained) there to be the kind of king that Saul, his pursuer, was not, and which he knew he would later enjoy (vs. 11). He was being trained to be a righteous king by thirsting for Christ the King of Whom he was a type. It is best to thirst for Christ’s righteousness. He will fill us with living water and prepare us to serve others with Him. Beloved, thirst for Christ and be quenched in Him as we approach the well together and find that once again, it never runs dry as He further springs up within us while we draw from and drink of Him again (Num. 21:17; John 7:38).