When I read this chapter and see how the people whine and complain, I am amazed. Not that they could be so self-centered, I am painfully aware of that as a human trait in myself! What has captured my attention is how Moses handles it. Of course, he is frustrated. Ask any parent, boss, teacher or coach about how difficult it is to lead people who complain and vent their unfiltered feelings. But Moses does something that is a great example for us all. He chooses to be God’s leader by not venting his own frustration back at the crowd. Instead, he challenges them to consider that their complaints aren’t with him but with God who has led them to this place. In his obedience to God, Moses has created an environment where God is the one who is in charge and Moses has a clear conscience. This is a real hidden but powerful aspect of obedience. When we obey God, not only is it the right thing to do (God never misleads us!), but it frees us from carrying anxiety and fear when things get tough – especially critiques and complaints by others.
By obeying God’s instructions, Moses has protected himself from undue criticism and can rightfully say to the people, “Why are you complaining against me? And why are you testing the LORD?” Exodus 17:2 (NLT). When you and I choose to follow God’s instructions for how we live, it not only blesses us, but makes God the one that shoulders the responsibility – and as we see in this story, He can and will handle things perfectly!