May 17, 2023

Hello Advent Family,

Have you ever found yourself practicing sort of obedience?  You were maybe obeying but doing it with a bitter heart.  Or perhaps you obeyed but not fully.  Moses has an instance of this as he is growing weary of leading the people of Israel and he is tired of their complaints.  Let’s look at it together in Numbers 20.

Now there was no water for the community, and the people gathered in opposition to Moses and Aaron. They quarreled with Moses and said, “If only we had died when our brothers fell dead before the Lord! Why did you bring the Lord’s community into this wilderness, that we and our livestock should die here? 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!” 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. 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 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.”

I have often thought of this story as a harsh punishment from God.  Moses has led these ungrateful people for years and now he does not get to lead them into the Promised Land.  Two things struck me that changed my opinion.  First it was never really Moses leading them it has always been God.  God has led the people all the way with a visible presence of a pillar of fire by night and a cloud by day.  Moses has simply been the lead follower.  God has honored Moses in many ways along the journey and done for him special things that he has done for no one else.  Secondly when God asks Moses to speak to the rock the understanding is that God will receive the glory and credit for the power.  Moses, by hitting the rock is doing things his own way and is taking the credit for himself.  He is tired of the grumbling at him and wants the people’s favor at this moment more than he wants the favor of God.  This is a trap it is easy for any of us to slip into.  When we long for the favor and approval of others instead of the favor and approval of God we get ourselves into dangerous situations.  We need to live our lives for an audience of one – Jesus.  When we live life that way we avoid the mistake of Moses and we allow God to lead us to the places He wants us to go.  So don’t hit the rock.  Listen to God and live your live for His approval alone. 

In His Grip,
Pastor Dave