Summary: Road rage! This is a fairly new phrase but a warning that we are sitting on an emtional powder keg.
The Anger Within
Road Rage! This is a fairly new term for us. But it stands as a warning that we’re sitting on an emotional powder keg. When you add in the factor of physical abuse and domestic violence and the like we begin to realize that we live in a world of anger. The text for this morning brings us to the time when the children of Israel had settled at Kadesh and Miriam dies. It must have been a very terrible and moving experience for a brother. Moses was Miriam’s brother. It must have been traumatic for the community of God’s people to loose such an important person as Miriam. We find her listed in scripture as one of those leaders in the book of Micah 6:4. There is something working inside of Moses and maybe it is from the anger within. Moses is angry!
The first lesson is anger stems from unbelief. When I say that Moses was angry, I say that with facts. It doesn’t say that he was angry but his verbish, “You rebels” indicates it. God didn’t say that ‘you go and preach to the Israelites and just give them the low down about who they are with all of their grumbling and complaining’. God says to go and speak to the rock and bring forth water. Moses, in his language, tells us that there is something going on when he just comes out and says ‘You rebels! You have rebelled against God!” Moses, instead of speaking to the rock, strikes the rock twice, not just once but twice. We can since anger within Moses.
In Exodus 2, remember when Moses began to mingle with the Hebrew people and he realized that his call was to lead the children of Israel. He sees an Egyptian beating a fellow Hebrew. He looks one way and then the other and takes the Egyptian’s life. Can you imagine the anger that has to be built up within him to take another person’s life?
Then we move to Exodus 11:8, between the 9th and 10th plague, Moses has a meeting with Pharaoh. In that verse Moses is hot with anger. In chapter 32 of Exodus, Moses is on Mount Sinai receiving the 10 commandments from God. As he was coming down the mountain with Joshua they hear noises from the camp. Joshua thinks it’s a battle and Moses says ‘it’s not a battle noise’. When he got there, the people were rebelling against God and throwing one big, giant party. They were drunk and reveling. In verse 19, Moses, again, burned with anger. He threw the 10 commandments down and shattered them. It’s like this little boy who asked another boy “Who was the most sinful person in the Old Testament?” The other little boy shook his head and said, “I don’t know.” “It was Moses. He broke all 10 commandments at the same time!”
We might justify the killing the Egyptian because one of Moses’ fellow Hebrews was being beating and we might even give Moses a little slack by being angry with Pharaoh and even finding the people rebelling is why Moses breaks the commandments. Religious indignation, right? Moses should be angry.
But consider this, if God wanted the Egyptians killed, he would have done that himself. Couldn’t God take care of Pharaoh by hardening his heart? So Moses didn’t need to be heated with anger. What about the tablets, the word of God, how sacred and how important these are? But Moses looses his cool and breaks the tablets. I say this because Exodus 34:1. God tells him to go and cut the stones out. ‘I’ll write on them to replace the tablets that you broke.’ We see a lot of anger built up in Moses.
In coming to this point, rather than obeying God, he disobeys God. Rather than speaking to the rock, he strikes the rock not just once but twice. I’m saying that anger comes from unbelief. That is what God said to him, “Because you did not believe (trust) in me”. You see, Moses didn’t trust God enough to follow his instructions. Sometimes anger gets to us and is stemmed from our unbelief, or no trust in God to handle the situation.
From the people’s point of view, they are afraid because they are quarreling, grumbling, complaining. They are in the wilderness and have been traveling some 30 plus years. They are almost to the Promised Land. But they are still grumbling and complaining. That’s enough to give anybody reason to be angry. Hebrews sheds some light on this event. God says to His people in Hebrews 3:18-19, “And to whom did God swear that they would never enter his rest if not those who disobeyed? So we see that they were not able to enter, because of their unbelief.” Disobedience and unbelief are two sides of the same coin. Moses didn’t trust God or didn’t believe God enough that He could handle the situation. The people were grumbling and complaining because they didn’t trust God enough to handle the situation. In the longer reading of Mark 16:16, “ Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned”. With God and Jesus salvation, hinges on our belief or trust in God. When we disobey God, when we don’t follow His commands fully, we find ourselves in a situation where anger is within. It stems from our disobedience and our lack of belief.