Friday, February 14, 2014

Numbers 19-21

In Numbers 19-21, the Israelites are still struggling in the wilderness.  They move from place to place, battle some people along the way, and have to go about things the long and hard way.  Eleazar, Aaron's son, makes the cleansing water just as God has told Moses and Aaron he should.  It is used to purify the Israelites from sin.  Then, Moses and Aaron, who have been in God's good graces, mess up in following God when it comes to bringing water from a rock.  It costs them big time, as God tells them they will not live to see the Promise Land.  Aaron dies on a mountain some time later and passes his priestly duties onto Eleazer. 

I had to read through Moses rock and water scenario several times today.  I mean, I know Moses is a stand-up guy when it comes to God.  He has been so faithful about talking to God and following His instructions.  And then, today, he messes up, and God's punishment seems really harsh on the surface, in comparison to his sin.  Why?

Let's take a look.  The Israelites are complaining about their circumstances in the wilderness, yet again.  They are so unhappy with Moses and Aaron, and they question what they are doing there without good food to eat and plenty of water to drink.  

Moses and Aaron go straight to God about it.  That's definitely the right thing to do.  Good for them!  

God answers their prayers very clearly. 

The Lord said to Moses, “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 they and their livestock can drink.”

So, Moses takes the staff and they gather the Israelites in front of the rock.  Take a close look at what Moses does.

10 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?” 11 Then Moses raised his arm and struck the rock twice with his staff. Water gushed out, and the community and their livestock drank.

Moses seems frustrated with the Israelites from the beginning, and I can almost hear the anger in his voice.  Can you?  He seems to be acting in that anger when he strikes the rock instead of speaking to it as God had instructed him.

So Moses messed up.  He didn't follow God's instructions this one time.  Why is the punishment so severe?

I think two things went wrong here with Moses and the rock, and it is actually a lot worse than it first seems.  

1. In his haste and anger, Moses forgets to speak of the source of the water and credits Aaron and himself saying, "must we bring you water" instead of the almighty, powerful, and Living God that is the source of all our gifts.
2. After overshadowing God's place in providing the people with His Living water, Moses strikes the rock instead of speaking to it.  He didn't trust God enough to provide in the way He promised He would.  Not only that, Moses was violent toward the rock.  The water from the rock was a gift from God, and Moses did not treat it with the holiness and respect God's gifts deserve.  
Moses' sins wouldn't be so bad in and of themselves, given His faithful past,  except for the fact that God has called him to lead all of His people.  The entire, doubtful, thirsty Israelite community is watching everything Moses does.  Moses doesn't have any power by himself.  It all comes from God, so the fact that Moses fails to glorify God in His actions is a really big deal, I think.  What do you think?

So, how do you think this water from a rock example applies to our lives today?

God wants to be a part of every single aspect of our lives.  He wants to work through all of our struggles and all of our celebrations.  He needs to use us for His purposes so others will come to know Him through us.  He wants to satisfy us beyond our own limited desires.  God longs to bless us beyond measure. 

I am reminded of several things.  

One, I get angry and frustrated just like Moses, but I don't have to act in anger.  That makes me way too likely to mess-up.  

Two, God is my rock.  

Three, He sent Jesus to be my Living Water so I will never go thirsty.  I just have to trust Him and believe.

A prayer for today-

Dear God,

Thank You for sending Jesus to be my Living Water so I will never go thirsty.  Forgive me for all the ways I act in haste and fail to give You the glory You deserve.  You are my rock and my redeemer.

Today, I pray to You about __________________.  It is a struggle and a source of pain, frustration, and anger in my life.  You graciously remind me what to do, and I mess-up following through so much of the time.  I need Your help and strong hands.  Work in my heart and help me do things Your way, for Your glory.

I also pray for _______________ today.  Be with them and bless them with Your love and abundance.

In the name of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit I pray,

*This post is part of A Mind-Maker-Upper's Everyday Reading Project.  Click here to read more. 

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