September 27, 2013
Exodus 17:5, 6; Numbers 20:8-12
(All scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated.)
In my daily reading of the Bible, I read a familiar passage in Numbers 20:8-12, but it renewed my insight into our relationship with Jesus Christ. It involves Moses who struck rocks – first at Horeb, then at Meribah – to get water for the thirsty people of Israel. You see, in I Corinthians 10:4 Paul talks about the Israelites who wandered in the desert for 40 years – “And [they] all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ.” So Jesus is likened to the desert rocks from which water was procured for the thirsty Israelites.
It happened twice. The first time is recorded in Exodus 17:5 and 6:
And the LORD said to Moses, “Go on before the people, and take with you
some of the elders of Israel. also take in your hand your rod with which you
struck the river [of Egypt, the Nile], and go. Behold, I will stand before you
there on the rock in Horeb; and you shall strike the rock, and water will come
out of it, that the people may drink.” And Moses did so in the sight of the
elders of Israel.
The second time was about 40 years later at Meribah. It is recorded in Numbers 20:7 through12:
Then the Lord spoke to Moses saying, “Take the rod; you and your brother
Aaron gather the assembly together. Speak to the rock before their eyes, and
it will yield it’s water; thus you shall bring water for them out of the rock, and
give drink to the congregation and their animals.” So Moses took the rod
from before the LORD, as He commanded him. And Moses and Aaron
gathered the congregation together before the rock; and he said to them,
“Hear now, you rebels! Must we bring water for you out of this rock?” Then
Moses lifted his hand and struck the rock twice with his rod; and water came
out abundantly, and the congregation and their animals drank. Then the
LORD spoke to Moses and Aaron, “Because you did not believed Me, to hal-
low Me in the eyes of the children of Israel, therefore you shall not bring this
congregation into the land which I have given them.”
Why were Moses and Aaron rebuked the second time but not the first? And the rebuke was so severe! God forbid them both to lead the Israelites into the Promised Land of Canaan! Both of them died on the eastern side of the Jordan River.
Carefully read the two accounts above and you will see the disobedience of these two leaders. The first time God had said, “…strike the rock, and water will come out of it….” The second time the Lord’s instructions were different – “Speak to the rock before their eyes, and it will yield it’s water….” Moses presumptuously struck the rock at Horeb, disobeying God’s explicit orders. After all, it was what he did at Meribah the first time! And he struck it twice! And just before he swung the rod in his hand, he angrily stated, “Hear now, you rebels! Must we bring water for you out of this rock?” Moses spoke as if it was all from him, not from God! He was taking the credit!
Disobedience is a serious thing when it comes to clear instructions from God! Moses later begged the Lord to let him cross the Jordan and put his feet on the ground of the Promised Land. He recounts the incident in Deuteronomy 3:24 through 26:
“O Lord GOD, You have begun to show Your servant Your greatness and Your
mighty hand, for what god is there in heaven or on earth who can do anything
like Your works and Your mighty deeds? I pray, let me go over, and see the
good land beyond Jordan, those pleasant mountains, and Lebanon.” But the
LORD was angry with me on your account, and would not listen to me:
“Enough of that!; speak no more to Me of this matter.”
It is interesting that Moses did get to plant his feet in Canaan, but not in his earthly, natural life. In Matthew 17:3 it is recorded that when Jesus was transfigured on Mount Hermon, “…Moses and Elijah appeared…talking with Him.” Heaven is a place where all sin is gone and all our Godly longings are fulfilled! But that is another blog!
Speaking of another blog, I will show you next time the significance of what Moses did in the desert as it relates to Jesus Christ.