No food for the people to eat; so, what did God do? He gave them bread from heaven. No water for the people to drink; so, what did they do? They quarreled with Moses (17:2). Did they think that the God, who had devastated Egypt and parted the sea and did so many marvelous things, could not give them water? What was Jesus’ response to his disciples on one occasion? “Oh ye of little faith.”
Moses’ father-in-law, Jethro, seems to have been a convert. When meeting Israel in the wilderness and hearing all that God had done, he said: “Now I know that the Lord is greater than all gods” (18:11). And he brought a burnt offering and sacrifices to God. Isn’t that what it’s all about? God acknowledged for who he is by people from every tribe and language? But the business at hand is focused on Israel. And so, God enters into covenant with them at Sinai. But Israel is not the end game. The whole world is God’s (19:5), and his redemption will be for all peoples. But, first, God will establish his people. Israel, and we, can sing:
Glorious things of you are spoken,
Zion, city of our God;
he whose word cannot be broken
formed you for his own abode.
On the Rock of Ages founded,
what can shake your sure repose?
With salvation's walls surrounded,
you may smile at all your foes. –John Newton (1779)