And the people complained to Moses, "So what are we supposed to drink?" Exodus 15:24 (MSG)
Since I was a teenager I've held a number of leadership positions for groups large and small. It's always fascinating for me to watch and experience group dynamics. I've exerienced first hand how quickly you can feel a shift in the winds of popularity and approval. I can see the same thing in today's chapter.
The 15th chapter of Exodus spends 21 verses describing the victory song of the Israelites. Can you imagine how Moses must have felt as the Red Sea parted to save them, then fell in to destroy their enemies? Can you imagine the praise that was heaped on him by the people at the post-game pep rally? Even as the people praised God, they knew Moses was the man God ordained as their head coach.
"Moses is the MAN!" "Way to go, MO!" "Mo! Mo! Mo! Mo! Mo!"
Then, three days and two verses after the most miraculous victory in recorded history, the honeymoon is over. People are thirsty and the waters of Marah weren't fit to drink. In three days Moses approval rating plummets from all time high to unforseen lows.
Crowds are fickle. Popularity is fleeting. Those who build their lives on the approval rating of their family, friends and peers will experience the life draining insanity of that roller coaster. God's words to Moses at the end of the chapter were a timely reminder for Moses, for Israel, and for us. Whether you are riding a wave of popularity or trudging through a valley of criticism, God's call is the same: Listen to me, and obey.