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Then Moses and Aaron gathered the assembly together before the rock,
and he said to them, “Hear now, you rebels:
shall we bring water for you out of this rock?”
And 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.
And the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, “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.”

Numbers 20:10-12

It was difficult to choose the verses for this passage, but this is what I picked. This week, we studied this passage which is also found in Deuteronomy 3:23-28.

If you are like me…and others who commented in our study, there was some feeling that GOD might have been unfair to Moses for preventing Him from going into the land after all those years of leading this difficult group of people through the desert just for this one failure. I used to feel that way too…until I read all of what was written in this story.

Moses wasn’t punished for hitting the rock

It turns out that Moses wasn’t being punished because He hit the rock. It was much more serious. He was punished, at least in part, because He was more concerned about his convenience than He was for GOD’s glory. (It’s very easy for me to feel convicted here.)

He was not representing GOD correctly! He was bawling the people of GOD out.  He was holding their sin against them. He wasn’t speaking for GOD.

GOD had forgiven them and disciplined them. Now He was providing the water they needed to stay alive. He wasn’t there to continue guilting them or making their lives miserable. Yes, they had not trusted Him to deliver these enemies into their hands 38 years before, but even under all that discipline, He continued to provide for them the daily manna, water, some meat and their shoes and clothes that didn’t wear out!

It was amazing how He cared for them and provided for all their needs. He kept them warm at night with a fiery pillar and in the daytime, He guided them with a cloud.

Moses misrepresented GOD to the people

But Moses misrepresented GOD this time. In his anger, he lashed out at the people. He insinuated that GOD might not be able to provide for them and hit the rock twice even though he knew GOD had told him He would provide the water. That was a horrible misrepresentation of GOD that could not be allowed to be ignored. It was a serious sin. It was not unforgivable, but certainly one with consequences.

Is this a problem for you where you have spiritual leadership?

  • In your home?
  • In an area of responsibility at church?
  • To the world around you?

How do you need to make it right?

Repent in conversation with GOD (prayer) and others? This includes understanding that you will never perfectly represent Jesus, but at times in our responsibilities, we can misrepresent Him in ways that present a caricature of His character. The encouragement we have is that Jesus completely satisfied the requirements of GOD for our various roles.

We don’t need to struggle to try to attain the coveted place of being more loved or accepted because of our performance. In Christ, we are already loved and accepted. He is real, not a caricature. Even when we fail, He will forgive us. But there are times when we fail to realize the seriousness of our sin when we represent GOD to others.