Numbers 20

Numbers 20 is a rather harsh chapter.  Moses and Aaron have led the people into the wilderness of Zin, and “Miriam died there and was buried there”.  That had to be a difficult thing for Moses as his wife is put to rest.  But the people are focused on a different issue – they have no water.  So Moses doesn’t really have much time to mourn his loss.  “There was no water for the congregation….the people quarreled with Moses”.  Here we go again.  This people has been in difficult situations before, and God has always provided, but once again they lose sight of that history.

God gives Moses some very clear instruction on how to address this problem, which actually seems quite overwhelming on the surface, that is until you realize that God has all power in His hands.  “Take the staff, and assemble the congregation, you and Aaron your brother, and tell the rock before their eyes to yield its water”.  Seems like a pretty simple solution.  Get everyone together and tell the rock to give some water.  Why didn’t I think of that?  The truth that we see over and over in scripture is that God will provide whatever is needed to accomplish His will.  There is never a shortage.

It seems pretty clear what Moses is to do here.  “Moses lifted up his hand and struck the rock with his staff twice, and water came out abundantly, and the congregation drank, and their livestock”.  On the surface the problem was solved.  Water came out abundantly.  But there is a problem.  Moses did not obey God.  Rather than speaking to the rock, he struck it twice.  Water was released but God was not pleased. “Because you did not believe in me, to uphold me as holy in the eyes of the people of Israel, therefore you shall not bring this assembly into the land that I have given them”.

That is a severe penalty for disobedience.  Moses has led the people for decades and now he is being banned from ever entering the Promised Land because of this one act of disobedience.  God takes obedience seriously – far more than we tend to believe I think.  God moves more quickly with punishing Aaron.  He tells Moses to “strip Aaron of his garments and put them on Eleazar his son. And Aaron shall be gathered to his people and shall die there”.  The power of the priesthood is passed from Aaron to his son and Aaron dies right there on the mountain.  God is serious about obedience.  Are you walking in obedience to the things you know He expects from you?


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