Numbers 20:2,7-12,23-27 (NLT) There was no water for the people to drink at that place, so they rebelled against Moses and Aaron... and the Lord said to Moses, “You and Aaron must take the staff and assemble the entire community. As the people watch, speak to the rock over there, and it will pour out its water. You will provide enough water from the rock to satisfy the whole community and their livestock.” So Moses did as he was told. He took the staff from the place where it was kept before the Lord. Then he and Aaron summoned the people to come and gather at the rock. “Listen, you rebels!” he shouted. “Must we bring you water from this rock?” Then Moses raised his hand and struck the rock twice with the staff, and water gushed out. So the entire community and their livestock drank their fill. But the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, “Because you did not trust me enough to demonstrate my holiness to the people of Israel, you will not lead them into the land I am giving them!”... There, on the border of the land of Edom, the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, “The time has come for Aaron to join his ancestors in death. He will not enter the land I am giving the people of Israel, because the two of you rebelled against my instructions concerning the water at Meribah. Now take Aaron and his son Eleazar up Mount Hor. There you will remove Aaron’s priestly garments and put them on Eleazar, his son. Aaron will die there and join his ancestors.” So Moses did as the Lord commanded. The three of them went up Mount Hor together as the whole community watched.
After thirty-eight grueling years of struggling in the desert, the journey doesn't end and we start to wonder if there is any joy left for these people?
As I read today's passage and wondered, I was reminded of the story of the tower of Babel back in Genesis 11, which I was studying with my church friends at our weekly Bible study group yesterday.
The people learnt the art of brick making along with the strength of binding them together with tar and therefore decided to build themselves a city with a tall tower.
Instead of leaning on God for wisdom on how to use this new-found gift, they ventured to be their own Gods and attempted to direct their own future.
In much the same way, Moses and Aaron knew that God had empowered them to act on His behalf and therefore used God's direction to give the grumbling Israelites water and tried to take the glory for themselves.
God instructed them to speak to the rock and water would pour out but they struck the rock to boast in their own ability, thereby disobeying and disrespecting God.
As humans we certainly have the ability to groan at others when things don't go our way and when we find a solution, we like to take the credit for it, therefore ending in the deep end of the ditch.
As Moses was informed of God's displeasure with him for being disobedient and later Aaron was condemned for his selfishness in not giving God glory, the pain must have really gripped them but this time neither of them complained because they recognized their guilt.
When we live for the moment and satisfy our carnal desires, we miss the long-term result of our actions and in much the same way Moses and Aaron lived for their moment of glory and reaped the harvest of their actions in death.
Another important lesson for us is to consider the reaction of the Edomites when the Israelites requested them for passage through their land.
Esau hated Jacob for stealing his blessing and many years later the same jealousy was revived when the blessing was about to be inherited by the descendants of Jacob.
We must not get upset when our reasonable requests get turned down by unreasonable people because just as in Egypt when Moses asked Pharaoh to let the Israelites go and God hardened Pharaoh's heart to refuse, these rejections are God's way of making us lean on Him and wait on Him to bring us into the promised land.
Even though we might complain about the length of time God made the Israelites struggle in the desert, we must recognize that the 40 years served as a great lesson for these people and us.
It also reminds us how God is working in our own lives by chiseling away the bad parts in us to prepare us to be like Him. Our few years of preparation is for an eternity of serving God with our all.
Are you submitted and willing to obey God or do you continue to fight back, disobey and rebel against Him? I struggle time-and-time-again but am grateful for God's mercy and grace shown to me as He continues to work in my rebellion for His glory.
In His Loving Service,
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