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Summary: Holiness! Speaking to the rock, beating the rock? Obediance to God, where do we stand with all our faults?

170509 Moses don’t do it Numbers 20:1-13.

When I went to high school we had a maths teacher by the name of Mr Wells, what stands out about Mr Wells was that he was tall about 6’2” or 3”. He always wore sandals and walk socks as well as a collared shirt; he had a long back beard. His nickname was you might have guessed it Moses. It’s funny when ever I read a passage on Moses this character pops into mind.

Well the original Moses was a bit of a character himself as we know. His life story is amazing and his leadership was remarkable. He had never wanted to lead the people of God but did so out of obedience. In Exodus we read that he pleaded with God “O Lord please send someone else to do it” (Exodus 4:13). We also know that he had a bit of a temper, there was the killing of the Egyptian and the throwing down of the stones of the law that remind us of that.

In the passage from Numbers, Moses had been leading the people for around forty years; this was their last year in the desert. This was not just a small group of people, here there were around a million people, living under his leadership being lead and feed and watered for forty years under his leadership, but miraculously by God’s provision. He however in the passage we have read from Numbers 20 verses 1 to 13 made a fairly serious blue.

The thing that lead up to this occurring was the nation of Israel’s disbelief, they had run out of water and at this place the Kadesh they had previously had plenty of water, so here they were grumbling, the term that was used in one commentary was that ”they prattled on about the lack of water.”

Now they moaned onto Moses and Aaron, and as a community opposed them. Both of these leaders then went to the tent of meeting and fell on their faces before God, The Lord appeared to them and gave them specific instructions. Looking again at verses 7 and 8 we read “Take the staff, and you and your brother Aaron gather the assembly together. Speak to that rock before their eyes and it will pour out its water. You will bring water out of the rock for the community so they and their livestock can drink”

The instruction was to “speak to the rock.”

God gave a directive “speak to the rock.” As a result water was to come from it.

Now we know that Moses had a temper, he took the staff as commanded, it is believed is the staff that he used to perform the miracles in Egypt with, you might remember that at one stage it had been transformed into a snake.

Now off he went and before the assembled community Moses exploded. “Listen you rebels must WE bring you water out of this rock?” Then he raised his arm and struck the rock twice with his staff.(At this stage striking a large rock with a staff) Water gushed out! The community and their animals drank.”

Now this was an issue of trust! Or should I say distrust. The Lord said “Because you did not trust me enough to honour me as holy in the sight of the Israelites, you will not bring this community into the land I will give them.”

The term holy refers in this case, to sacred, consecrated and acknowledged as such.

Moses and Aaron did not carry out the will of God, and made it appear that by their own efforts the water came from the rock.

As a consequence neither of them entered the Promised Land. A harsh punishment? These men who had been servants of the Most High God made this one mistake.

How then do we stand with all our faults before a Holy God?

A couple of interesting things this punishment was not an eternal but an earthly punishment, Moses still has a place with God in eternity. We know this from the account of the transfiguration of Jesus, as Moses appeared with Elijah speaking with our Lord. You can read this is the gospel accounts.

The Lord said “Because you did not trust me enough to honour me as holy in the sight of the Israelites, you will not bring this community into the land I will give them.”


They had carried out their actions in anger, even though God had already said he would provide the water. God had provided the solution and they did not trust.

Moses actions in the way he addressed the people and smacked the rock were not the actions of a trusting person; he got carried away in his anger and emotion. If he had spoken to the rock as commanded instead of reprimanding the people and striking the rock, God’s Holiness would have been seen in action.

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