Take the staff, and you and your brother Aaron gather the assembly together. Speak to that rock before their eyes and it will pour out its water. You will bring water out of the rock for the community so that they and their livestock can drink.’
So Moses took the staff from the Lord’s presence, just as he commanded him. He and Aaron gathered the assembly together in front of the rock and Moses said to them, ‘Listen, you rebels, must we bring you water out of this rock?’ Then Moses raised his arm and struck the rock twice with his staff. Water gushed out, and the community and their livestock drank.
But the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, ‘Because you did not trust in me enough to honour me as holy in the sight of the Israelites, you will not bring this community into the land I give them.’
Numbers 20:8-12 (NIV)
The people of Israel grumbled against Moses and Aaron many times during their journey to the promised land. In the episode recorded in Numbers 20 the Israelites’ lack of water was the issue at stake.
God told Moses what to do to deal with the matter. He was to take his staff, gather the people of Israel together and speak to the rock. God promised that he would provide water for the community.
Moses followed God’s instructions up to a point. He took his staff, gathered the people of Israel together, but from then on he digressed from what God had told him to do.
Moses didn’t speak to the rock, he spoke to the people of Israel. Additionally, he struck the rock twice with his staff. At this point God could have allowed Moses to wallow in failure; all he had to do was not allow the water to flow from the rock. However, God knew the Israelites needed water for themselves and their livestock, so he was gracious and allowed the water to flow from the rock.
In reading the text it is apparent that Moses was rather short-tempered with the people of Israel. Did he forget God’s instructions in the heat of the moment? Possibly so. Moses not only lost his temper and struck the rock twice with his staff, he more significantly failed to give God the glory for the miracle. Moses said, ‘… must we bring you water out of this rock?’ He focused attention on himself and Aaron, rather than on God. Because of his disobedience he would miss out on going into the promised land.
I’m sure you’ve heard people say ‘you can do things my way, or the highway!’ What God tells us through this episode in Numbers 20 is that we can either ‘do things our own way, or the High Way!’
Moses lost out by not following God’s instructions and failing to give God the glory. If you are involved in any kind of Christian work remember to give God the glory. It is only in his strength and with his blessing that you will see people won for Christ and lives changed.
[Archives – click on the icon at the top of the page]