On the 6th Feb, we looked at Exodus 17 where the people of God got thirsty and Moses struck a rock and water flowed. Today they are thirsty again and instead of praying, they start moaning again! They are so full of unbelief and a bad attitude – which provokes Moses to make a big mistake.
This new generation, about to enter the promised land, have similar grumbles to the previous one
- If only we had died…
- We and our animals will die and it is God’s fault
Moses and Aaron rightly fall on their faces to seek God. The Lord speaks with some very specific instructions – take your rod and speak to the rock. Back in Exodus 17 Moses was ordered to strike the rock, now he can just speak to it, while holding the rod – the symbol of his authority from the Lord. He starts well in v9 taking the rod. But then in in v10 he lectures the nation “Hear now you rebels…” Moses had not been commanded to speak to the nation, just to the rock. Instead with some anger, contempt and bitterness Moses has a go. Before Moses had fallen on his face and cried out to God. He confronted the people when necessary, but this time it has a frustrated and angry edge. Ps 106:32-33 gives some explanation of Moses actions, but no excuse.
Then Moses overemphasises his role in the coming miracle – “must we bring”, making it seem that this was a 50:50 proposition some pride has crept in. Next Moses strikes the rock twice. Poor rock – it only needed talking too! In Exodus he was commanded to strike the rock once. This time he wasn’t meant to strike it all. God in His grace, does the miracle, providing water for the people.
However Moses has overstepped the mark and the Lord rebukes him. Leaders are held to a higher standard (James 3:1) and Moses has blown it in front of a million people. Moses has acted in unbelief and shown God as angry when He wasn’t. Therefore Moses can’t go into the promised land. As David Guzik writes “Worst of all, Moses defaced a beautiful picture of Jesus’ redemptive work through the rock which provided water in the wilderness. The New Testament makes it clear this water-providing, life-giving rock was a picture of Jesus (1 Corinthians 10:4). Jesus, being struck once, provided life for all who would drink of Him (John 7:37). But it was unnecessary – and unrighteous – that Jesus would be struck again, much less again twice, because the Son of God needed only to suffer once (Hebrews 10:10-12). Jesus can now be come to with words of faith (Romans 10:8-10), as Moses should have only used words of faith to bring life-giving water to the nation of Israel. Moses “ruined” this picture of the work of Jesus God intended.”
To Moses credit, he pleads with the Lord to relent in Deut 3 and is told no. Moses still works to encourage the new younger leader Joshua – encouraging and strengthening to press on past him, cheering him on and letting his ceiling be Joshua’s floor.
Who’s currently behind you that you will help and cheer on to greater exploits? 1 Thess 5:11 “Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.”