Chapter 18 – The thing that stood out to me from this chapter about the duties of the priests was that God made sure the Levites were taken care of. AND out of what the Levites received they had to TITHE as well…. They had to give their best and holiest part of everything to the Lord that had been given to them.
Chapter 19 – When a person touched a dead body, he/she was considered unclean and unable to approach God in worship. God made a way for anyone who touched a dead body to be made clean again. REDEMPTION!!!
Chapter 20 – Since we have been reading in Numbers, it has been 37 years since the FIRST SPY MISSION into the Promised Land (Numbers 13, 14). AND it has been 40 years since the exodus from Egypt!!! Once again they camped at Kadesh. Miriam had died and was buried. Moses, Aaron, Joshua, and Caleb were among the few who remained from those who had left Egypt. Moses HOPED the people were READY for a fresh start.
But there is no water!!! The people come OPPOSING Moses and Aaron!! (Wonder what would have happened if they would have all come in PRAYER??? Wonder what if our current generation ALL PRAYED about EVERY thing before the LORD????) It’s a repeat of their past grumbling and complaining and wishing they had never left Egypt’s “luxuries.” Moses and Aaron went to the entrance to the Tent of Meeting and fell face down in PRAYER and REVERENCE before the Lord. Neither Moses nor Aaron said ANYTHING to the Israelites. They SPOKE to God FIRST!!
God tells them to take the staff and gather the assembly together and HE will provide water for them. Look closely at verses 7-11:
The Lord said to Moses, “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.” So Moses took the staff from the Lord’s presence, just as he commanded him. 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?” Then Moses raised his arm and STRUCK THE ROCK TWICE WITH HIS STAFF. Water gushed out, and the community and their livestock drank.
NOW read what God’s response was to Moses in verse 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.”
WHOAAAAAAAA!!!! For YEARS this always frightened me. Moses had spent most of his life in obedience to God. YES he did have a temper (when he killed the Egyptian, when he dropped the 10 commandments and they broke after seeing the golden calf, and now when he struck the rock) but IMHO he spent his entire life obeying God, speaking face to face with HIM and I never understood why God treated Moses sooooooo harshly for ONE sin. After last year’s Bible study I gained a new understanding of what happened. Was Moses treated unfairly? Let’s look a little closer and I bet you will agree that he was not.
Flip back to Exodus 17 (click on it) . God told him to put their hand on the rock and water would come out. God was TESTING their faith and they passed. So they called the place Massah (testing).
So here we are 37 years later. During this entire wilderness journey, God has SHOWN himself to the people…why you ask? I am so glad you asked!! God KNOWS it is VERY important that HIS people know WHO they are following. Were they following Moses or the Lord? THIS is a WHOLE new generation. They did not see the Plagues, the Passover, the parting of the Red Sea, OR the 2 times the Lord provided water in the desert before. SOOOOO we are at a HUGE crossroads in the Bible. This generation is about to enter the Promised Land and it is VERY VERY VERY important that they know WHO is taking them in. (pssst…..it’s not Moses…it’s the LORD) Now, what happened that was soooooooo wrong?
They were probably standing on a bed rock of Limestone. Limestone holds big pockets of water. So let’s look at what went wrong:
- Moses was supposed to SPEAK to the rock before the assembly’s eyes. (NO STRIKING IT).
- Moses was to give ALL honor and Glory to the Lord, but he did not.
- Moses STRUCK the rock twice and said “Must WE bring you water out of this rock”. This was not only an acknowledgement of WE are bringing you this water (NOT THE LORD) but hitting the rock did not show TRUE FAITH IN GOD. Moses and Aaron were not TRUSTING GOD enough to honor HIM as HOLY in the SIGHT of the Israelites.
- What Moses did at this point would have been like him building a boat at the parting of the Red Sea just in case God couldn’t do it…they could do it themselves. This is a HUGE moment in the Bible. ALL the Lord had provided in Moses life yet Moses not only took credit for the water but HITS the rock TWICE to make sure the water comes. The reality is you either believe and trust or you don’t.
- The other BIG issue here is not only that Moses did struck the rock rather than speaking to it and took credit for the water coming forth, BUT…. Moses DISOBEYED GOD IN FRONT OF ALLLLLLLL THE NEW GENERATION OF THE ISRAELITES!! This was a very public example of direct disobedience by the leader of the Israelites that God could not allow to go unpunished.
It still breaks my heart that Moses was not allowed to enter the Promised Land while he lived. HOWEVER, we will soon read that when Moses is about to die (Deuteronomy 34: 1-6) .. This entire Scripture touches my heart so deeply. God lets Moses see the Promised Land with his own eyes. THEN the MOST beautiful thing to me is that GOD BURIED MOSES!!! GOD BURIED HIS FRIEND!! God always loved Moses and never left him. Moses disobedience could not be tolerated in front of the entire new generation of the Israelites and required God’s discipline. (God disciplines those HE loves.)
The last two things I want to touch on are:
- 10 verses of Hebrews 11 are devoted to Moses.
- Here we are in the week before the celebration of the RESURRECTION of our Lord and it is interesting to note that although Moses never set foot in the Promised Land while on earth, he was given the opportunity to enter after his death. On the mount of transfiguration when Jesus gave three of HIS disciples a taste of HIS wonderful glory, HE was accompanied by Moses and Elijah. Moses is NOW experiencing the TRUE PROMISED LAND and is living in true Sabbath rest in Christ as all believers will do one day. (Hebrews 4:9)
Sharing HIS love,