November 7, 2016
Numbers 20:1-4, 7, 8, 10-12
(All scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated.)
I have tried to condense the nine verses of our featured Scripture into a narrative that will better fit in this blog, yet give the reader a sense of what happened. Here it is from Numbers 20:1 through 4, 7, 8, and 10 through 12:
Then…Israel came…into the Wilderness of Zin….Now there was no water
….And the people contended with Moses…saying…“Why have you brought
up the congregation of the LORD…that we and our animals should die
here?” Then the LORD spoke to Moses…“Take the rod….Speak to the rock
before their eyes, and it will yield its water….” So…Moses and Aaron gath-
ered the congregation…before the rock; and…said…“Hear now, you rebels!
Must we bring water for you out of this rock?” Then Moses…struck the
rock twice with his rod; and water came out abundantly….Then the LORD
spoke to Moses and Aaron, “Because you did not believe Me…you shall not
bring this congregation into the land which I have given them.”
Another rebellion by the Israelites! They blamed Moses, but in reality, they were blaming God! In their minds, the LORD had led them into the Wilderness of Zin to die of thirst! The first thing we can take away from this incident is, when we complain against God’s appointed leaders, we are really rebelling against God! No wonder He says in I Chronicles 16:22 and Psalm 105:15, “Do not touch My anointed ones, and do My prophets no harm.”
But there is danger here for the leaders also! By the time the children of Israel came into the Wilderness of Zin, they were nearing the end of their 40 year wilderness wanderings. Moses and Aaron must have been getting fed up with the oft-stated complaints of the congregation! And Moses acted out of his own anger and frustration! God had clearly said, “Speak to the rock before their eyes, and it will yield its water….” (Numbers 20:8). But what did Moses do? He shouted, “Hear now, you rebels! Must we bring water for you out of this rock?” (Numbers 20:10). And then he “…struck the rock twice with his rod…” (Numbers 20:11). Yet God, in His graciousness, still gave the thirsty congregation the water they needed.
There are three further things we can learn from this incident:
• Moses and Aaron wrongly took credit for God’s miracle of provision! Notice above that Moses said, “Must we bring water for you out of this rock?” Who can cause water to flow from a rock in the dry wilderness area of the Sinai Peninsula? Only God! But Moses specifically said, “…we…”! The psalmist wrote in Psalm 115:1, “Not unto us, O LORD, not unto us, but to Your name give glory….” And in the part of verse 12 that I left out to shorten the featured Scripture, God rebuked Moses and Aaron because they “…did not…hallow Me in the eyes of the children of Israel….” In the Easy to Read Version, it says, “You did not trust Me enough to honor Me and show the people that I am holy.” We dare not shortchange the character of God when we represent Him before others!
• The rock did not need to be struck the second and third time! This is the second time the LORD provided water from a rock in the wilderness (see Exodus 17:1-7 for the previous time). In the first incident He specifically told Moses:
Go on before the people, and take with you some of the elders of Israel.
Also take in your hand the rod with which you struck the river….and you
shall strike the rock, and water will come out of it… (Exodus 17:5, 6).
Paul wrote in I Corinthians 10:4 of Israel drinking “…spiritual drink…” from the “…spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ.” So Paul sees the rock as a type of Jesus Christ! Jesus needed to be ‘smitten’ only once – when He gave His body to be tortured and crucified to pay for our sins. The Lord’s sacrifice was full payment! To drive home this point, the writer of Hebrews tells us in Hebrews 9:25 and 26:
…not that He should offer Himself often, as the high priest enters the Most
Holy Place every year with blood of another — He then would have had to
suffer often since the foundation of the world; but now, once at the end of
the ages, He has appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself…so
Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many.
Since the debt for sin is totally paid, those who by faith accept that payment to make them clean and acceptable before God (see Isaiah 1:18; Ephesians 1:6; I John 1:7, 9), now need only to come asking for His favor to be poured out to meet our needs! (See Philippians 4:19; Hebrews 4:14-16).
But Moses, in striking the rock twice in the second incident, was foreshadowing Jesus being crucified two more times – as if once was not enough forever!
• Disobeying God carries a stiff penalty! Yes, Moses disobeyed God’s direct command to only speak to the rock! What was his penalty? “…you shall not bring the congregation into the land which I have given them.” (Numbers 20:12). Oh, how Moses wanted to do that very thing! He longed to personally experience the Promised Land! He even argued with God to reverse His decision and allow him to lead the Israelites in (see Deuteronomy 3:23-26). Over fourteen hundred years later, God did allow Moses into the Promised Land, for Moses appeared with Elijah on the Mount of Transfiguration and talked with Jesus about His upcoming crucifixion (see Luke 9:29-31).
Do not take disobedience lightly!