Summary: Moses and Aaron missed out on God’s best because of the waters at Meribah. Will doubt, frustration, and fear cause us to miss out on God’s best at our Meribah?
THE WATERS OF MERIBAH
By Pastor James May
Numbers 20:1-2, "Then came the children of Israel, even the whole congregation, into the desert of Zin in the first month: and the people abode in Kadesh; and Miriam died there, and was buried there. And there was no water for the congregation: and they gathered themselves together against Moses and against Aaron."
Israel had finally reached the banks of the Jordan River after their deliverance from Egypt and the long march through the wilderness. God was ready to fulfill his promise to Abraham and give his people possession of the Promised Land. God was ready, but Israel was not. They believed the faithless report of the 10 spies and were afraid to enter in, so God turned them around and allowed them to wander in the wilderness for another 40 years until a new generation could grow up to become his chosen nation.
Now 38 years had passed and the Children of Israel advanced towards Canaan again. This wasn’t the same generation that had doubted God’s ability to give them the Promised Land. That generation had died and every one of them was buried in the wilderness. This was a whole new generation and they were only 2 years away from coming to the Promised Land once again. The problem was that they weren’t acting any better than their fathers had done 38 years before.
God had brought them through, delivering them, providing for them and protecting them. This new generation still knew the stories of slavery in Egypt because their parents had constantly drilled it into them. They knew of the miracle working power of God, of the guiding hand of God and of the promises of God, but they were still a rebellious nation. They would not trust God and they were constantly murmuring and complaining.
Oh how quick we are to forget what God has done for us in the past. If we would only remember how he healed us before, how he delivered us before and how he has provided for us all along, perhaps we could have greater faith in trust that He will do it again.
No matter how many promises God fulfills in us, we still doubt whether he will fulfill the next one. No matter how many times God provides our needs, we still wonder if he will supply our next need.
We can’t point fingers at Israel and accuse them when we refuse to pay tithes because we think we can’t afford to, or when we worry and fret over everything in life as though we didn’t believe that God could meet all of our needs as well.
Israel’s mindset was that God was untrustworthy and they he would leave them to fend for themselves in this dry, barren wilderness and that why it says in Numbers 20:3, "And the people chode with Moses, and spake, saying, Would God that we had died when our brethren died before the LORD!"
Moses was God’s chosen prophet to lead Israel but Israel often argued with Moses. They constantly found fault with Moses’ leadership skills. They constantly argued with Moses and had sharp criticism for everything he did. Moses was God’s chosen man for the hour but the Children of Israel were constantly second guessing God and trying to figure out their own way.
To show just how little respect they had for Moses we have to remember that Moses’ sister, Miriam had passed away only days before and I’m certain that Moses was grieved in his spirit for his loss. Yet the people didn’t show him any respect or real love. Instead they argued with Moses and only made maters worse.
How many times have I seen Christian at one another’s throat or after the minister because of something that displeased them? It doesn’t matter that the preacher has their best interest at heart and has forsaken his own family many times so that other families’ needs could be met. They quickly forget the price that he has paid in service to them and all they can think about is right here, right now and my need.
Israel was so caught up in despair and hopelessness at their lack of water that they even began to envy those who had already died in the judgments of God. Huge numbers of Israelites had died under the judgment hand of God in Taberah. We talked about that just last week how that many died under the fiery hand of God as they pitched their tents in the outermost parts of the camp.
They also knew of the demise of Korah as his cohorts in a very similar manner.
Numbers 16:31-35, "And it came to pass, as he had made an end of speaking all these words, that the ground clave asunder that was under them: And the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed them up, and their houses, and all the men that appertained unto Korah, and all their goods. They, and all that appertained to them, went down alive into the pit, and the earth closed upon them: and they perished from among the congregation. And all Israel that were round about them fled at the cry of them: for they said, Lest the earth swallow us up also. And there came out a fire from the LORD, and consumed the two hundred and fifty men that offered incense."