If you’re following the schedule, you should read these chapters today: Numbers 20, Psalms 58–59, Isaiah 9:8–10:4, James 3. Click on any of those references to see all the passages in one long page on BibleGateway. If you can't do all the readings today, read Numbers 20.
It is hard to read about Moses’ life and not identify with him. He faced one challenge after another. At one time or another everyone was against him, including his own brother and sister. Yet, despite the challenges, he kept leading, kept praying for the people, kept faithfully doing what the Lord commanded him to do. Here in Numbers 20 he faced another crisis—a familiar one—the lack of water. Of course the people complained about it (vv. 2-5) and Moses, as he did so often in the past, went to God in prayer looking for the answer (v. 6) this time with his prayer-partner Aaron. God commanded him to “take the staff” (v. 8) which he had once used to strike a rock and bring forth water. This time, however, the instruction was to “speak to that rock before their eyes and it will pour out its water” (v. 8). On his way to do what the Lord commanded (v. 9), the pressure of all this grumbling may have finally gotten to him. He and Aaron gathered the people (v. 10a), but then Moses made a speech. He called the people “rebels” and asked “must we bring you water out of this rock?” Hopefully God was included in that “we” but that’s far from certain because Moses next act was not to obey God by speaking to the rock as he had been instructed. Instead, Moses smacked the rock twice with his staff (v. 11). God graciously provided the water, but Moses and Aaron were judged for Moses’ disobedience. And what caused Moses to disobey? “Because you did not trust in me enough to honor me as holy in the sight of the Israelites” (v. 12b). It was a lack of faith in that moment—not a lack of faith in God to provide the water, but the lack of faith to demonstrate the holiness of God to the people. Had Moses obeyed God’s command to speak to the rock, God would have been exalted and revered when the rock gushed forth. But by striking the stone with his rod, Moses was acting in anger not in faith. In the ministry, it is hard not to get frustrated and even angry with people when they disobey God’s word. It’s also hard as a parent when our kids disobey. But when we correct someone who is disobedient, are we concerned about them learning the holiness of God or are we mad because they’ve challenged our authority, or exhausted our patience, or just disrespected us? Any of these negative responses is sinful because they don’t come from a sanctified desire to show the world the greatness of God. Instead, we try to coerce obedience through anger or manipulation. These do not honor God and we should expect that God will not leave us to dishonor him without bringing his hand of discipline in our lives.
Now for your thoughts: What stood out in your Bible reading for today? What questions do you have about what you read? What are your thoughts about what I wrote above? Post them in the comments below or on our Facebook page. And, feel free to answer and interact with the questions and comments of others. Have a great day; we'll talk scripture again tomorrow.