When the Lord brought Israel out of Egypt, he led them through the Red Sea. And immediately following their great song of victory in Ex 15, they encountered a problem. They found no water, v.22. The water that they did find was bitter, v.23. When they asked, What shall we drink, the Lord provided a tree to sweeten the waters. Then the Bible says, there he proved them, v.25.
The purpose was to teach them the soul-satisfying value of three things: his words, his righteousness, and himself, Ex 15:26.
He Proved Them With Enemies
When you get saved, and you start following the Lord, you will encounter your enemies of the world, the devil, and your flesh. If you turn to God, he will deliver you from all your enemies, just like he delivered Israel. Notice how the order of the chapters in Exodus picture the development of our early Christian life.
In Ex 12, we see the passover which pictures our salvation. In Ex 13, God led Israel out of Egypt by the way of the Red Sea. Egypt is a type of our enemy, the world. In Ex 14, God destroyed Pharaoh who is a type of the devil. Then, in Ex 15, after the song of victory, God proved Israel with thirst. And in Ex 16, God proved them with hunger, and fed them with manna. In Ex 17, God proved Israel with thirst again, and gave them water out of the Rock. And then in Ex 17:8, Amalek attacked, which is a type of our flesh.
God delivered Israel from all their enemies. According to 2 Cor 1:8-10, God has delivered us and will deliver us. In 2 Tim 4:17-18, he delivered Paul out of the mouth of the lion.
The Lord lets you encounter enemies so that you can see him deliver you. But when he does, he doesn’t want you to forget that it is he who delivers. Don’t be like Israel in the book of Judges. Every time God delivered them, they turned away from the Lord, and he had to deliver them again. It is HE who will delivers you and he desires that you stay close to him.
He Proved Them WIth Thirst
When you get thirsty all you can think about is getting a drink of water. Men have even drunk foul water when they have been so thirsty. In Ex 15, the water was foul. But God made it sweet. Then, In Ex 17, he brought water out of the rock. According to 1 Cor 10:4, Jesus was the rock. Jesus gives the water of life. He is the source of the water.
In Jer 2:13 Israel had forsaken the Lord, the fountain of living waters. They had thirsted for other things.
Jesus taught his disciples to hunger and thirst after righteousness, and promised that they would be filled, Matt 5:6. He taught them to take no thought for what to eat and drink, Matt 6. Rather, they were to seek first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness. He promised that all the food, drink, and raiment they needed would be added to them.
In Jn 4 When Jesus told the woman at the well that she would never thirst again, he was not talking about physical thirst. Jesus thirsted on the cross. Paul thirsted in the ministry. Jesus was talking about spiritual thirst.
When the Lord lets you thirst, it’s to draw you back to him. With thirst he can teach you contentment, like he taught Paul, Phil 4:12. Perhaps you’re thirsty from suffering under persecution. The Lord will use it so that you may know him, Phil 3:10.
When you know the source of the water, you go to HIM to quench your thirst rather than to the physical water. Do you understand. He is the source of supply, Phil 2:19. Israel had the rock with them in the wilderness the whole way. Yet the complained about the water. They had their minds and hearts on the wrong thing.
He Proved Them With Hunger
When he did, he gave them manna. In Jn 6, Jesus taught the people that he is the bread of life. In Jn 6:35 people that believe him will never hunger and never thirst. He proves you to let you know that he is the source of what you need to eat and drink. For this reason, he warned the Jews that in Canaan they would get fat and forget him, Deut 8
When Jesus hungered in Matt 4, he didn’t eat because he was looking to God for the food. He was not looking to the food to satisfy him. That’s why he told the devil that man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God. He was quoting from Deut 8:2-3, where God to proved Israel with hunger.
We must learn the satisfaction and sufficiency of God himself, his words, and his righteousness. When you love these three and depend upon them, your spiritual hunger and thirst will always be filled. And the Lord will also provide your temporal needs, and deliver you from your enemies. And as the waters flow out of the belly of spirit-filled people, so we will be able to help others quench their thirst in Jesus Christ.