Day 4 - Numbers 20:1-12

Water from the Rock

Detours can drag on and on with no end in sight. The longer they are, the harder it is to keep God’s plan in mind. As God’s people fled from Egypt and wandered the desert, their patience began to wear thin. Moses and Aaron had to find a way to manage this unwieldy group of complaining travelers with no destination.

20:1 In the first month the whole Israelite community arrived at the Desert of Zin,and they stayed at Kadesh. There Miriam died and was buried. 2 Now there was no water for the community, and the people gathered in opposition to Moses and Aaron. 3 They quarreled with Moses and said, “If only we had died when our brothers fell dead before the Lord! 4 Why did you bring the Lord’s community into this wilderness, that we and our livestock should die here? 5 Why did you bring us up out of Egypt to this terrible place? It has no grain or figs, grapevines or pomegranates. And there is no water to drink!”

Water was a real and necessary need for the Israelites, but their response was a bad attitude and a lack of trust in God. These two things often have a way of showing up together. When you find a believer with a bad attitude, chances are it’s caused by a lack of trust in God’s plan.

Have your circumstances ever put you in a place where your discouragement led you to have a pessimistic attitude? It can be easy to become angry with God when we forget how much he has done for us in the past. Talk about a quick bout of amnesia. The people of Israel had just walked across dry land because God split the Red Sea for them! It may be helpful today to remind ourselves that God’s timing is always perfect and he does not abandon us in the desert.

Has a bad attitude affected your circumstances lately? What great things has God done in your life that you can remind yourself of today?

In the midst of all the crying and complaining, the people needed a leader to make proper decisions. Unfortunately, in that moment, Moses didn’t behave as that leader. 

6 Moses and Aaron went from the assembly to the entrance to the tent of meeting and fell facedown, and the glory of the Lord appeared to them. 7 The Lord said to Moses, 8 “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.” 9 So Moses took the staff from the Lord’s presence, just as he commanded him.10 He and Aaron gathered the assembly together in front of the rock and Moses said to them, “Listen, you rebels, must we bring you water out of this rock?” 11 Then Moses raised his arm and struck the rock twice with his staff. Water gushed out, and the community and their livestock drank. 12 But the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, “Because you did not trust in me enough to honor me as holy in the sight of the Israelites, you will not bring this community into the land I give them.”

Moses started out on the right track. He sought the Lord’s guidance and followed his commands. Then he took a turn for the worse: he lectured the nation with a heart of anger, bitterness, and contempt. On top of that, Moses spoke as if he and God would do the job dividing the work fifty-fifty (must we bring you water out of this rock?). His lapse into bitterness led him into a lapse of subtle pride.

God’s love for his people is so great, he will use imperfect instruments to accomplish his plans. Even though Moses is punished for his behavior, God still provided the water for His people. Everyone, including Moses, probably thought he did something right because it worked. But success isn’t a good measure of what is right before God. Just because we are doing something that “works” in our detour doesn’t mean it’s what God wants for us in the season.

Are you trying to get through a tough season by doing what “works” instead of what God asks of you? How can you reorient your decisions and emotions to align more with God’s way of living?