7 Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 8 “Take the rod; you and your brother Aaron gather the congregation together. Speak to the rock before their eyes, and it will yield its water; thus you shall bring water for them out of the rock, and give drink to the congregation and their animals.” 9 So Moses took the rod from before the Lord as He commanded him.
10 And Moses and Aaron gathered the assembly together before the rock; and he said to them, “Hear now, you rebels! Must we bring water for you out of this rock?” 11 Then Moses lifted his hand and struck the rock twice with his rod; and water came out abundantly, and the congregation and their animals drank.
12 Then the Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron, “Because you did not believe Me, to hallow Me in the eyes of the children of Israel, therefore you shall not bring this assembly into the land which I have given them.”
We all know the story of Moses bringing water from the rock. We know it not only because it was another in a long line of miracles, but because it’s the one that he did wrong–the one that made God say Moses wouldn’t be allowed to enter the promised land. In case it’s been a while since you’ve studied the passage, here it is from Number 20:7-12.
I’ve read this countless times, but only recently did something new jump out at me. I think I’d always assumed–or perhaps heard taught–that it was because Moses got angry and struck the rock that he was punished. But that’s not what it says, right? And we happen to know that Moses has gotten angry before, and the Lord didn’t punish him…like when he broke the very tablets God had written on with His own finger. I’d have thought that would have earned a rebuke, but no mention of one is made. So what makes this time different?
When I looked at what God said to them in response here, it was like a light bulb moment for me. First, Moses did not believe Him. God gave specific instructions for what should be done, and what would happen. Moses had every reason to believe that God would be faithful–this was after far bigger miracles had already been done. So what happened? Did Moses doubt that God COULD? That He WOULD?
I’m not sure. But when we look at what Moses said to the people, I think the doubt wasn’t in God…but in their worthiness. Moses was so frustrated with the people that his entire speech was not at all about God–it was entirely about THEM.
Which leads to what really struck me. God doesn’t just tell Moses he failed to believe. He says “to hallow me in the eyes of the children of Israel.”
That, my friends, is the real sin here, I think. That here he was with another beautiful, miraculous moment when God is about to demonstrate His love and power–and what does Moses do? He berates them. He rebukes them. He calls them rebels. And he says WE (as in, he and Aaron) will bring the water from the rock.
Never once does he point the Israelites back to God. Never once does he address the rock, as he’s instructed, or even address the Lord. Never once does he direct either his own heart or theirs to their Lord.
But something else struck me here too. God was still faithful.
Moses screwed up–but God still delivered.
The people weren’t faithful–but God didn’t abandon them.
No one believed–but God still gave a miracle.
There were consequences for Moses’s disobedience, unbelief, and failure to point the people to God–but they were consequences for him alone. God still met the need that required the miracle to begin with.
I find that so encouraging. Because let’s face it–we all screw up. We all address the problems in our lives instead of trusting Him for the solution. We all fail to have perfect belief in the promises He’s made us.
But God still delivers.
God doesn’t abandon us.
God will still provide the miracles we need.
Sometimes it certainly feels like we’re surrounded by a rebellious, faithless people. But there’s a lesson here for us in those times, isn’t there?
Sometimes, when God’s about to move, we shouldn’t be addressing the problem at all. We should be addressing, looking to, focusing on the thing from which the miracle is going to come.
Don’t look to the masses, my friends.
Look to the Rock.