Summary: Those who lead are accountable for their failures, but so are followers who stress out and aggravate their leaders.

Moses Messes Up

(Numbers 20:1-13)

1. Let me share my preaching schedule with you. Next week, Luke will be preaching. The week afterward, we will look at the Bronze Serpent incident here in Numbers. The week after that, we’ll look at a midrash on this whole section from I Corinthians 10 and end the series for now.

2. About the third Sunday in August, we’ll begin a new series titled, “The Psalms of the Sons of Korah.” We’ll look at the 11 Psalms penned by this musical family.

3. Then we’ll do another segment in Acts.

4. Sometime in the future, we’ll return briefly to Numbers and deal with the life of Balaam, but too many people getting zapped by God week after week can get to be too much, so I am breaking things up.

5. In chapter 16, Korah, Dathan, Abiram, and On got together with 250 leaders representing a solidarity of the people, telling Moses that they had gone too far, and that the whole assembly was holy. God disciplined them, and the entire families of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram died as the ground opened up and swallowed them alive. God quelled democracy in His Kingdom. Apparently God's justice upon On was off.

6. Then everyone blamed Moses for the disaster, and God started to kill off Israel. Aaron speedily brought a censer of incense and entered the mist of the people, stopping the plague through this sacrifice. 14,700 people had died before he could get there.

7. Moses was God’s man, but the people continued to treat him with contempt.

8. After church, a little boy complained to his mom that his stomach hurt. "Church was so long and now my stomach hurts."

His understanding mother relied, "Oh that’s because it’s empty, once you get something in it you’ll feel better."

A few minutes later, the pastor and his family came over for dinner. He said to his hosts, “Excuse me, I have to take some aspirin. My head hurts.” (source: Sermon Central)

The little boy responded, "Oh mommy said that’s because it’s empty but when you get something in it you’ll feel better!"

9. In the case of Moses, the people insulted him intentionally.


11. Through all these horrible outbursts of the people, as well as their rampant stupidity, Moses handled being wronged in the right way. But one day that track record was marred. Since leaders set the tone, God did not go easy on him.

Main Idea: Those who lead are accountable for their failures, but so are followers who stress out and aggravate their leaders.

I. The DRUDGERIES of Life and the CONSTANT Complaining Drove Moses Mad

A. Miriam DIES (1)

B. MOSES is at wits ends with all the COMPLAINING (2-5)

1. When did this happen?

2. Some people never learn.

C. Moses and Aaron fall DOWN before the Lord – again (6-8)

D. Moses TRASHES His Respect for God (9-13)

1. The big issue: full obedience

2. The bigger issue: respect for God, part of trust (faith)

3. As mentioned last week, faith includes an attitude of respect for God; if you hold God in contempt, as Moses did for a few minutes, then you are not believing in Him.

4. The people may have provoked him, but this was no excuse for Moses; he was not allowed a Mulligan.

5. Other issues that will be covered when we study I Cor. 10

6. Aaron punished too – he probably failed to restrain Moses

7. Passive sin – doing nothing when we should do something – is still sin. Passive sin is often the sin of parents toward their children, as it was with Eli the priest. Passive sin includes failing to do your part in the Kingdom of God. Passive sin includes letting a marriage die by neglect. Passive sin includes buying today and worrying about paying for it tomorrow.

II. The Midrash In Hebrews Focuses on FOLLOWERS (Hebrews 13:15-17)

A. Rather than being NEGATIVE, God wants us to PRAISE Him (15)

1. Praising or worshiping God is intentional

2. It demands our hearts

B. Rather than demanding, focus on OTHERS (16)

1. The people treated Moses as a functionary, not a human being

2. We all have a selfish nature, but we need to nurture that part of us that freely gives and volunteers and helps others

C. COOPERATE with leaders, do not fight them (17a)

1. You need to go back to the drawing board: why do we have a church? What is a church meeting about?

2. What does the Bible teach, and how does this differ from the folk religion of our popular culture?

3. If church is supposed to include things like learning, worshiping, growth, and serving, do I come to church to learn, do I sing with my heart, do I walk with the Lord during the week to grow, and am I eager to help?

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