A Case of Anger Mismanagement

            Picture this scene.  Moses is leading the children of Israel through the wilderness, and they were angry and thirsty.  This wasn’t the first time for that either.  Numbers 20:7-12 tpicks up the story.  “And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, Take the rod, and gather thou the assembly together, thou, and Aaron thy brother, and speak ye unto the rock before their eyes; and it shall give forth his water, and thou shalt bring forth to them water out of the rock: so thou shalt give the congregation and their beasts drink. And Moses took the rod from before the LORD, as he commanded him. And Moses and Aaron gathered the congregation together before the rock, and he said unto them, Hear now, ye rebels; must we fetch you water out of this rock? And Moses lifted up his hand, and with his rod he smote the rock twice: and the water came out abundantly, and the congregation drank, and their beasts also. And the LORD spake unto Moses and Aaron, Because ye believed me not, to sanctify me in the eyes of the children of Israel, therefore ye shall not bring this congregation into the land which I have given them.”

            The great man Moses blew it.  God told him to speak to the rock, not strike it.  Instead, he struck it twice.  Notice that God graciously allowed water to flow from the rock anyway.  Moses flat out lost his temper.  He not only struck the rock, but spoke harshly to the people of Israel.  Maybe they deserved it, but that wasn’t in the instructions God gave him.  God accuses Moses of not believing Him.  Moses thought he had to do something more than what God had told him.  In an earlier incident, he was instructed to strike a rock for water to flow.  Not this time.  In fact, in Num. 20:24, when God tells Moses to prepare for Aaron’s death, he says he and Aaron rebelled against His word.  That’s pretty strong language.

            To make things worse, God didn’t waste any time telling Moses about the most serious consequence.  Moses would not get to lead Israel into the land God had promised them.  Think of it.  God had called Moses from a burning bush and told him he would lead Israel out of Egypt.  All of Moses’ life since that time was geared toward getting Israel out of Egypt, then through the wilderness journey that would take 40 years.  Taking them into the new land would be his culminating work.  Now, it wasn’t going to happen, all because he lost his temper and thought he knew better how to handle things than God.            Moses was graciously allowed to see this great land though, even if he wouldn’t lead Israel into it himself.  God wasn’t teasing or torturing him by doing this.  Deuteronomy 34:1-5 says, “And Moses went up from the plains of Moab unto the mountain of Nebo, to the top of Pisgah, that is over against Jericho. And the LORD shewed him all the land…And the LORD said unto him, This is the land which I sware unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, saying, I will give it unto thy seed: I have caused thee to see it with thine eyes, but thou shalt not go over thither. So Moses the servant of the LORD died there in the land of Moab, according to the word of the LORD.”

            The New Testament perspective of Hebrews 11:24-29 speaks glowingly of Moses’ faith, not mentioning this incident.  Though there are earthly consequences we can’t escape, God forgives and blots out the stupid, sinful things we do.  Praise God!  Perhaps you can pray as David prayed: “Keep back thy servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me…” (Ps. 19:13).

Explore posts in the same categories: Bible Study, Christian Life, Thoughts from John

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