Then Moses and Aaron gathered the assembly together before the rock, and he said to them, “Hear now, you rebels: shall we bring water for you out of this rock?” And Moses lifted up his hand and struck the rock with his staff twice, and water came out abundantly, and the congregation drank, and their livestock. And the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, “Because you did not believe in me, to uphold me as holy in the eyes of the people of Israel, therefore you shall not bring this assembly into the land that I have given them.” These are the waters of Meribah, where the people of Israel quarreled with the Lord, and through them he showed himself holy. Numbers 20:10-13, ESV.
God tells Moses to speak to the rock and give the congregation water. Moses chooses instead to rebuke the congregation, speak as though the water from the rock was his own doing, and strike the rock. Yet God does not say, “ Moses, you did not follow instructions.” God says, “Because you did not believe in me, to uphold me as holy in the eyes of the people of Israel, therefore you shall not bring this assembly into the land that I have given them.”
Let’s be honest. Many of us have read this passage and wondered why God was so hard on Moses. Sure, Moses’s attitude was a bit off. And he did fail to obey the letter of God’s command. Of course, he did not glorify God as much as he should have. Who doesn’t occasionally slip up in our attitude, obedience, and worship? It seems like losing access to the Promised Land is a pretty high price to pay for not being perfect.
We want to forget that God’s standard is holiness and that God knows the hearts of men. Moses quit trusting in God when he grabbed the staff, rebuked the people, and struck the rock. He quit trusting God and he held up himself as holy instead of holding God up as holy. In other words, Moses was fed up with his circumstances, assumed he was the offended party, believed that he deserved better, and doubted that God would ultimately come through. Humble Moses in verse 6 had become arrogant and angry Moses in verses 10-11.
How do you react when God does not provide in the way you think He should? When your income does not meet your expenses, your kids act out in rebellion, church services leave you dry, your spouse does not show you the affection you think you deserve . . . how do you react? There is a lot of Moses in us, isn’t there?
Praise God, Jesus has purchased an eternal Promised Land for all who trust in Him. Nonetheless, we, like Moses, may miss many blessings in the meantime unless we repent of our faithless thoughts and deeds.
I am praying for you.