Israel is at Kadesh where there they’ve camped a number of times over the past 40 years. This former well-watered oasis is waterless. Israel cannot see the water hidden within the rock waiting to become a river. Instead of asking the Lord to manifest His provision Israel blames Moses for their lack and demands that he do something,
“If only we had died when our brothers fell dead before the LORD! Why did you bring the LORD’s community into this desert, 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!” (Numbers 20:3-5)
Israel is on the verge of entering the land of plenty and they are complaining!
After 40 years of leading the people, Moses finally blows up. Instead of speaking to the rock as the Lord had commanded, he strikes the rock. Twice. A river gushes out. Enough to refresh 2.5 million people and their animals. Amazing!
While God displays His mighty power, this scene reveals an affront to His holiness. God rebukes Moses, “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 that I give them” (Numbers 20:12).
Moses doesn’t trust the Lord and misrepresents Him as angry when he angrily strikes the rock, not once but twice; this action attributes to Moses the place belonging solely to God as provider for His people. Moses misappropriated his authority and position; and because of this, Moses is prohibited from entering the land of promise.
What does this story reveal about God and His leaders?
- God will not share His glory and honor with those whom He calls to lead His people.
- God holds leaders responsible for honoring Him among His people and responds appropriately when they dishonor Him. Jesus says, “For everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required; and to whom much has been committed, of him they will ask the more” (Luke 12:48)
- Leaders who’ve served for a long period of time must guard their hearts from acting presumptuously just because they can.
- Leaders who distrust God act hastily and foolishly.
- Leaders who trust God act calmly and wisely.
God is good. He is better to His people than they deserve.
Older Post"The Lord said to Moses, ‘Make a snake and put it up on a pole; anyone who is bitten can look at it and live.’" (Numbers 21:9)
This is perhaps one of the most amazing promises of the Bible. The storyline is incredibly simple. The people murmur and their murmuring invites the judgment of a holy God. God's judgment is swift and sure. He sends fiery serpents and they bite the people. Immediately the people flee to Moses in terror, crying out in repentance.
For so long they have presumed upon God. Every time they've asked God to intervene in their problems He has done so. Once again they ask, "Take away the fiery serpents." In a surprising twist God says no. Rather than remove the serpents He provides a remedy—the strangest remedy ever implemented. The Lord commands Moses to make a serpent of bronze, put that serpent up on a pole, and command the people to look. Complete healing is offered in exchange for a look. Indeed, everyone who looks lives.
Inexplicably, however, not everyone looks. The text does not say that everyone lived but that everyone who looked lived. Some may have scoffed at this unusual remedy. To them this remedy was unbelievable; because they did not believe they did not look. Because they didn't look they died. They would rather die than look.
People are no different today. Some people would rather die in their sins than look to Jesus Christ and be saved. What keeps people from looking? Pride. Pride prohibits people from receiving intended good from the heart of God.
Questions for today's Chronological Bible reading:
- What purpose do the ashes of the red heifer serve? (What contaminates people that they need to be cleansed from?)
- Of what does this remind the children of Israel?
- How do the children of Israel respond every time they don't have water?
- What does this tell you about their view of God?
- Why does Moses strike the rock instead of speaking to the rock?
- Why is God so severe on Moses' disobedience?
- How do the Edomites respond to Moses' request?
- How do the children of Israel respond to this forced detour?
- What does Jesus use the story about the snakes to teach? (John 3:14-15)
- What does the bronze snake represent?
Turning truth into prayer: Ask the Lord to show you areas in your life that are "killing" you. Ask Him to show you His remedy and then determine to walk in obedience to whatever He shows you.