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Where do you go when you are thirsty?

Numbers 21:16-17 (ESV)
16 And from there they continued to Beer; that is the well of which the LORD said to Moses, “Gather the people together, so that I may give them water.” 17 Then Israel sang this song: “Spring up, O well!—Sing to it!—

This morning in my devotions while meditating on Numbers 21:10-20, verses 16-17 jumped out at me. The children of Israel are roaming through the wilderness. Maybe they are experiencing something similar to the summer heat of the mid-Atlantic that we all know so well. They are weary. They are following Moses, though sometimes quite reluctantly. They come to a place where there is water. So they stop there to not only enjoy the water but to sing and write a song celebrating this place of refreshment, this oasis in the desert.

Let us not underestimate the importance of water for nomadic peoples. Water is used to quench thirst for the people and camels. This well is like our modern GasMart. We stop there to get fuel for our vehicle as well as fuel for our belly! And don’t forget this: The well was also the place where they could finally take care of their need to wash both their bodies and their clothes! And so yes…they sang joyfully. They “had church” at the well!

But also…did you notice the name of the place? “Beer?!” Yes, that is the literal Hebrew word. And I actually find that to be absolutely hilarious!! They found water in a town named Beer! When you are thirsty for what do you reach? Water or beer? Personally I have always preferred soda. (The real stuff, not diet or low cal.) They tell us that soda is not healthy. Probably true. But there are 3 reasons why I prefer soda to beer. Beer is an acquired taste and my initial experience of beer during my college days made that very clear. After a couple of sips I decided that it was an acquired taste that was not worth acquiring. Sort of like veggies. Good for you though not tasty. You can endure veggies for nutritional reasons. But beer? Nah. Secondly, beer was much more expensive. And finally I realized, after seeing the power of the kegs in dorm parties, that you have to be careful not to drink too much beer. But Soda? Or Water? You can drink until your bladder shouts at you, “Enough, please!”

In the passage the water brought the Hebrew nomads so much joy that they burst into song. We know that often beer causes people to become more relaxed and willing to sing. (They say that karaoke nights only get better after a few folks have had a few drinks!) We are told in fact that some of the hymns of the church were originally German beer songs. In the New Testament the Apostle Paul says in Ephesians 5 that we as believers “should not seek to get drunk… but be filled with the Spirit…singing to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs…” In John 4 Jesus offered living water to the woman of Samaria, to the woman that we like to call “Juanita at the well.” She had a soul thirst that neither water, beer or soda could quench. She is just like us. Saints, where do you go when you are thirsty?

Some of you are old enough to remember a song that comes from verse 17:

I’ve got a river of life flowing out from me.
Makes the lame to walk and the blind to see.
Opens prison doors sets the captives free.
I’ve got a river of life flowing out from me.

Spring up, oh well, within my soul.
Spring up, oh well and make me whole
Spring up, oh well and give to me
That life so rich and free.

John 7:37-39   37 On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. 38 Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’” 39 Now this he said about the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were to receive, for as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.


Pastor Stan