Reading: Numbers 20:1-13
Focus Verse: Numbers 20:11-12
Then Moses raised his hand and struck the rock twice with the staff, and water gushed out. So the entire community and their livestock drank their fill. But the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, “Because you did not trust me enough to demonstrate my holiness to the people of Israel, you will not lead them into the land I am giving them!”
We have read over and over in these devotions about the temperament of the Israelites… Not only are they showing great insensitivity to Moses and Aaron after the passing of their sister, they’re continuously complaining to each other, complaining to Moses and Aaron, and again stating that they would be better off in Egypt as SLAVES, for heaven’s sake! Seriously?
We know how easy it is to complain, though, don’t we? When the grocery store stops carrying the brand of chips you like, you grumble. When it’s too hot (or too cold), you gripe. When your spouse or kids don’t do what you think they should do, you criticize. When the music is too loud at church, you moan. When a “traditional” program or event gets an upgrade you don’t understand, you object. When the mission you volunteered for takes too long, you protest.
Hm. Did I hit a nerve?
The Israelites sure hit a nerve with Moses this day. He was at his wit’s end. He didn’t even have to say anything to God… surely they were on God’s last nerve, too. Even through their complaining, God found mercy for them and gave Moses instructions to provide for their physical need. Water. (They were asking for pomegranates and figs, too, but what they needed was water.)
In hindsight, I’m sure Moses wishes he would have found some mercy for them as well. Instead, he got mad. Instead of setting the example for his people and gently speaking over the rock for water, he threw a little fit. Ever done that before?
When I was a kid, I had an argument with my sister over a pencil. (Really?) My mother calmly told me to give the pencil to my sister. Well, I was mad, of course… I didn’t get my way. So I didn’t give her the pencil, I threw it at her. It stuck in her foot. Oops. My mother reacted in much the same way as God did with Moses. She gave me a pencil to use, but there were certainly consequences for my choice.
Moses and Aaron did not do what God told him to do. God was merciful in providing the water after Moses struck the rock, but then judgement came as well. They were in leadership, and were held to a high standard. So their actions didn’t come without consequence. Neither of them got to lead his people into the promised land. That’s a gigantic bummer. In fact, soon after this event, Aaron died.
The truth is, there are consequences to sin. For the Israelites, there were consequences (I think wandering in the desert for 40 years counts as a consequence); for Moses and Aaron, there were consequences (not ever seeing the promised land); and for us there are consequences. If you’re in a leadership role, chances are good that the consequences for sin will be more severe.
Thankfully, God finds mercy for us as well. He gives us what we need (more than what we need in most cases), including forgiveness. Let’s not be grumpy Israelites. Let’s not be disobedient. Let’s not throw pencils at our sisters. Let’s be thankful servants of the most awesome God.
God, it is so easy for me to be a complainer, so easy for me to grumble when I don’t get my way, and so easy for me to get irritated when people don’t do what I think they should do. Will you soften my heart to Your will, God? Forgive me for my selfishness, and motivate me to be the joyful hands and feet of Your Kingdom! In Jesus’ name, Amen.