Summary: Moses was so mad he lost his leadership. Anger is a dangerous emotion that needs God’s guidance.
What makes you really mad?
What do you do when you get upset and angry?
Moses learned a hard lesson about anger in Numbers 20. Anger can make it easier to do wrong. Did you see our bulletin this week? Did you read the verse in Words to live by?
Open you Bible to that passage and read it with me. This is a very informative passage about our anger.
Today’s world is full of angry people! Even whole nations that are angry with one another today. We’ve got war going on all over. In some places there are people angry enough to strap bombs around themselves and walk into a crowd and detonate. In Chattanooga there are people who will swear at you and make obscene gestures at you if you aren’t driving fast enough or slow enough to suit them. There are angry words of hate and destruction all around us. It is popular to be mad today, and even used for entertainment! As I go back and forth to Nashville for my graduate classes I sometimes turn on the radio and scan through the stations. Music doesn’t keep me awake and I don’t care for much secular music anyway, so I tend to search for Christian stations for messages or talk shows or news programs. It is amazing to me when you scan out of the Christian stations and hear the secular talk shows, how some of the conservative show hosts bash the liberals with such a vengeance. I hear the political polemics guys going at it against some candidate or governing official. They dig up stuff and present it by strong emotion and irritation stirring up anger and ill will against them, or by mockery with comical caricatures that belittle and berate the object of their focus. Vacillating between laughter and horror, they rant and rave and mock. Some of you know what I’m talking about. I must admit, it does keep one awake. Yet it is an attitude I certainly do not wish to imitate. Some of their points are valid too, but the way they harass and belly ache about it almost makes me want to defend the victims of their venom. Personally I can’t agree with either side! What disturbs me most is that the love of God is completely missing. The message of Jesus Christ which drives a wedge between the sin and the sinner is gone! No one weeps for the lost. Humanity is stripped away from humans. Something is wrong. I don’t have all the answers but I know enough to tell the difference between God’s righteous wrath against sin and man’s godless wrath that serves himself.
Now I believe in a time and place for righteous indignation. God’s word shows us Jesus himself was stirred with zeal for the Temple so that he turned over the money changers’ tables and drove out those who were buying and selling. I want to be like Jesus in my anger, but that takes a lot more strength and maturity than it looks like. Jesus could keep a clear head and walk in the Holy Spirit in his anger, I’m not so sure about me. In fact, I need to remember what James 1:19-20 says about the anger of man and God’s righteousness.
As we turn to Numbers 20 today to see anger’s effects on Moses leadership there are some very important lessons to learn.
This is not the first time Moses got mad, but it is the first time that the Bible records that it was connected with unbelief and rebellion in Moses and Aaron. Open your Bibles to Numbers 20 and look at this passage with me.
This is near the end of the wilderness wandering. Moses has led Israel for almost 40 years. The people have complained and rebelled over and over. Miriam, Moses sister has just died. Now a new generation of Israelites is on the verge of the Promised Land and once again, water is scarce.
What follows is a “like parents-like children” experience. Just as their parents complained at the bumps in the road, so do the sons and daughters.
2 And there was no water for the congregation; and they assembled themselves against Moses and Aaron.
3 The people thus contended with Moses and spoke, saying, "If only we had perished when our brothers perished before the LORD!
4 "Why then have you brought the LORD’S assembly into this wilderness, for us and our beasts to die here?
5 "And why have you made us come up from Egypt, to bring us in to this wretched place? It is not a place of grain or figs or vines or pomegranates, nor is there water to drink."
Take a lesson here Parents. What your kids hear you say will likely be repeated. They will probably follow your lead. They will also pick up on your attitudes. Parents that talk positively about church and the membership and leadership of church around their kids will more than likely raise up kids that talk and feel that way. Parents that openly put down church leaders in front of their kids will create a sense of mistrust in the hearts of their children toward them.