Sunday, September 12, 2010

Numbers 19, 20, 21 Speak to the Rock at Horeb

Across to the Promised Land 2Image by Gauis Caecilius via Flickr
Did you ever feel that some people were held to a higher standard than others?  A pastor might swear and shock or surprise church members whereas someone else may swear more profusely but no-one will notice. 

In these chapters, something similar happens.  Moses, who talked to God face to face, who knew God’s plans, who completely aligned himself with God’s will, disobeyed God in an almost negligible way.  Yet God punished Moses in the same way that the generation, who sent spies into the land of Canaan, was punished.  Everyone over the age of twenty was condemned to die in the desert, never to enter the Promised Land because they refused to enter it when God first offered it to them. God did not allow Moses to enter the Promised Land.

When Israel camped at Horeb, where forty years earlier the nation complained angrily about the lack of water, they again rebelled against Moses and Aaron.  It seems as though this time there was more anger and profound discouragement; most of the older generation had died and the children were now grown and impatient with the wilderness wandering.  They were tired, thirsty, and ready to lynch Moses and Aaron.  The people demanded water and possibly a return trip to Egypt.

Moses and Aaron fled to God’s presence.  It’s notable that they didn’t have to say anything – they just fell before the Lord and opened their hearts to Him.  God told Moses to take the staff he used forty years ago and to speak to the rock in front of the people so that water would pour out.

Moses took the staff, gathered all of Israel, and addressed them angrily. (Numbers 9 – 11)

            “Listen, you rebels, must we bring you water out of the rock?’

Moses, in defiance of what God told him to do, struck the rock twice with his staff.  Water still gushed out but God called Moses on his disobedience.

Speak to a rock or strike a rock hardly seems like a big deal. But because Moses, the prophet who spoke God’s will, didn’t honor God in front of Israel, his disobedience was amplified by the number of eyes who witnessed his sin.  Everyone knew Moses sinned.  And everyone was probably watching to see how God would respond – maybe, they thought that God would loosen up on His position on sin.  But, God did not compromise on sin.  Moses was sentenced to death in the desert the same as everyone else who rebelled against God’s Word.

 People we elevate are always held to a higher standard than the regular guy because those we look up to often become role models.  We pattern ourselves after people we admire.  By disobeying God, Moses tacitly gave Israel permission to rebel against God.  God could not allow this to become the example Moses would set for Israel. 

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