My daughter and I were in a store where every item cost $1.00. She laughed as she pointed out that they had security cameras. We joked about it for quite a while. Not too long later, I saw one of my police officer friends and shared the humor with him. He chuckled and said, “It gets even funnier than that.” He shared that someone broke into this dollar store and got caught. The funny part was that they broke the front window which was expensive, so it turned into a felony case. People do the dumbest things.
What is one of the dumbest things you have ever heard or saw?
Everyone has done something in the past that they wish they could change. Moses was no exception to the rule. He messed up, and it cost him the opportunity to go into the Promised Land.
Numbers 20:2-9 records the Moses’ situation, “Now there was no water for the congregation. And they assembled themselves together against Moses and against Aaron. And the people quarreled with Moses and said, ‘Would that we had perished when our brothers perished before the Lord! Why have you brought the assembly of the Lord into this wilderness, that we should die here, both we and our cattle? And why have you made us come up out of Egypt to bring us to this evil place? It is no place for grain or figs or vines or pomegranates, and there is no water to drink.’ Then Moses and Aaron went from the presence of the assembly to the entrance of the tent of meeting and fell on their faces. And the glory of the Lord appeared to them, and the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, ‘Take the staff, and assemble the congregation, you and Aaron your brother, and tell the rock before their eyes to yield its water. So you shall bring water out of the rock for them and give drink to the congregation and their cattle.’ And Moses took the staff from before the Lord, as he commanded him.”
It feels like a sense of déjà vu. Exodus chapter 17 records a similar situation that happened 40 years earlier. Numbers chapter 14 also contains this theme of the people as they “quarrel” and “complain.”
What instructions does the Lord give Moses? How is this different than before?
How much water was He going to provide?
Numbers 20:10-13 records Moses’ poor response, “Then Moses and Aaron gathered the assembly together before the rock, and he said to them, ‘Hear now, you rebels: shall we bring water for you out of this rock?’ And Moses lifted up his hand and struck the rock with his staff twice, and water came out abundantly, and the congregation drank, and their livestock. And the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, ‘Because you did not believe in me, to uphold me as holy in the eyes of the people of Israel, therefore you shall not bring this assembly into the land that I have given them.’ These are the waters of Meribah, where the people of Israel quarreled with the Lord, and through them he showed himself holy.”
Did Moses follow the Lord’s instructions? How or how not?
There are at least three things that Moses does wrong in this brief section.
Moses had a sense of unhealthy pride. Notice that Moses said, “Shall we bring water for you out of this rock.” He used the pronoun “we.” He started taking partial credit for God’s work. Scripture is clear that pride can get us in trouble.
“Love the Lord, all you his saints! The Lord preserves the faithful but abundantly repays the one who acts in pride.” Psalm 31:23
“The fear of the Lord is hatred of evil. Pride and arrogance and the way of evil and perverted speech I hate.” Proverbs 8:13
“Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.” Proverbs 16:18
“One’s pride will bring him low, but he who is lowly in spirit will obtain honor.” Proverbs 29:23
What are some of the dangers of pride?
What does “lowly in spirit” look like?
Moses acted in anger. There is a time for righteous anger. He was correct in his response to the Golden Calf and the idolatry associated with it. However, anger can cause problems. Too many walls have felt the pain of anger.
“Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger.” Ephesians 4:26
“Whoever is slow to anger has great understanding, but he who has a hasty temper exalts folly.” Proverbs 14:29
“Whoever is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city.” Proverbs 16:32
“Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense.” Proverbs 19:11
“Make no friendship with a man given to anger, nor go with a wrathful man.” Proverbs 22:24
What are some things that these verses say about anger?
The Lord points out a major problem with Moses’ action, “Because you did not believe in me, to uphold me as holy.” Moses messed with the holiness of God.
In 1 Corinthians 10:4, we read that the rock was actually the presence of the pre-incarnate Christ Himself, “And all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank from the spiritual Rock that followed them, and the Rock was Christ.” Moses struck the Rock once earlier and out poured living water. To strike the Rock again was to sacrifice the Lord again. That is not needed and challenges the holiness of God. Christ’s sacrifice was sufficient; it does not need to be repeated.
In what ways can we show the holiness of God?
“In holiness God is more clearly seen than in anything else,
save in the Person of Christ Jesus the Lord,
of whose life such holiness is but a repetition.”