The Rock

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I’ve always been interested to know why Moses was not allowed to enter the Promised Land and the following is the passage of Scripture that describes what happened and we do well to learn from Moses’ mistake.

Numbers 20:2-12
2 Now there was no water for the community, and the people gathered in opposition to Moses and Aaron.
3 They quarreled with Moses and said…
4 Why did you bring the LORD’s community into this desert, that we and our livestock should die here?
5 Why did you bring us up out of Egypt to this terrible place? It has no grain or figs, grapevines or pomegranates. And there is no water to drink!”
6 Moses and Aaron went from the assembly to the entrance to the Tent of Meeting and fell facedown, and the glory of the LORD appeared to them.
7 The LORD said to Moses,
8 “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.”
9 So Moses took the staff from the LORD’s presence, just as he commanded him.
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.
12 But the LORD said to Moses and Aaron, “Because you did not trust in Me enough to honor Me as holy in the sight of the Israelites, you will not bring this community into the land I give them.”

This passage of Scripture holds many lessons for us.

When the Israelites grumbled and murmured against the Lord, Moses was given the specific instruction to “Speak to that rock before their eyes and it will pour out its water.” (Numbers 8:8)

In 1 Corinthians 10:4, we know “that rock was Christ” and as such, Moses was in effect instructed to speak to God. By speaking to God before the eyes of the murmuring Israelites, Moses would be giving God the honour and when God answered their prayer by causing water to pour out of the rock, God alone would receive the glory.

However, Moses did not do that.  Instead of speaking to the Rock, Moses spoke to the people, saying, “Listen, you rebels, must we bring you water out of this rock?” (Numbers 8:10)  By speaking this way, Moses was proclaiming that he and his brother Aaron were the ones who could bring the water out of the rock and not God.  Instead of speaking to the Rock, Moses “struck the rock” and by doing so, he was representing the people to show their displeasure and anger towards God.  He not only struck the rock once but twice, which may symbolize he was not only identifying with the people in their anger towards God, he was also personally expressing his anger towards God.  Previously, God instructed Moses to raise his staff in the presence of Pharaoh and his officials and strike the water of the Nile, and all the water turned into blood. In that event, the staff represented the power of God and God was glorified through that miracle of turning the water into blood.  However, in this instance, Moses had raised his staff and hit the rock in the presence of God’s people. Instead of glorifying God, Moses had dishonoured God and instead of identifying with God, he identified with God’s people in their anger and disbelief towards God.

As a result, God told Moses, “Because you did not trust in me enough to honor me as holy in the sight of the Israelites, you will not bring this community into the land I give them.” (Numbers 8:12)

Here are the lessons I have learned from this:

  1. Do not murmur against the Lord.
  2. When God’s people indulge in murmurings and complaints, we must speak to the Rock. We must take them to Christ, the Rock. (1 Corinthians 10:4)
  3. Do not “strike the rock”.  Do not hit out in anger towards God and do not react in anger.  When in anger, be careful not to offend.
  4. As children of God, we are to explain God’s love to His people whenever they misunderstand Him. We are not to try to appease the people and identify with them in their misunderstanding of God.  We are to help others come back to faith in God.
  5. Trust in the Lord to solve the problem when we pray.  Do not take matters into our own hands in unbelief.
  6. Do not assume the glory when handling a matter as if we are the saviour and therefore depend only on our own strength and ability.
  7. When a matter is resolved, give God the glory that is due to His Name.
  8. Remember to always honour God in private, as well as in the eyes of the public.
  9. Be on the guard always and do not assume that we are spiritually strong to handle all circumstances.
  10. When we do wrong, God in His love will chastise us in this life so that we may be saved from eternal punishment after we leave this earth.

Let us pray.

“Dear God, help me to not only worship You in church but also in my heart and in the presence of my friends and family. Even as I speak of You, help me to give You due honour so that Your Name may be glorified and people will know of the high regard I have for You. By doing so, may the glory of Your Majesty be reflected through my life and people may learn to fear You and give You due honour too. In Jesus’ Name, I pray. Amen.”

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