To Speak or Strike: Water from A Rock [Devotion]

For this devotion I wanted to take a lesson from the life of Moses. Despite his reluctance and speech impediment God had taken Moses from being an exile to being the deliverer of God’s chosen people. Through Moses God had brought the people out of Egypt, across the Red sea, to Sinai, and throughout the wilderness performing many incredible miracles of deliverance, provision, and judgement along the way. Moses had participated in it all and had been faithful to the lord throughout. But in the thirty eighth year of their wandering we see one of the most heartbreaking moments in Moses’ life: the Waters of Meribah.

The account of this moment is found in Numbers 20:2-13. The congregation comes to Moses and (in an all too familiar refrain) accuses Moses of trying to kill everyone by bringing them to a wilderness where there is no water. So Moses and Aaron go to the Lord. God tells Moses, “Take the staff, and assemble the congregation, you and Aaron your brother, and tell the rock before their eyes to yield its water.” So Moses and Aaron follow the instructions up until the part where God told Moses to speak to the rock… Instead Moses speaks to the people. “Hear now, you rebels: shall we bring water for you out of this rock?" Then he strikes the rock twice.

The Bible doesn’t tell us exactly what motivated Moses to act the way he did but I think we can take a hint from his opening comment calling the congregation “rebels“. But whether it was anger at the Israelites (my personal guess) or fear that speaking to the rock wouldn’t be enough Moses decided to listen to his own emotions and desires and pointblank disobeys God in front of the entire congregation of Israel. And Moses’ lack of faith has serious consequences.

As a result of this seemingly small act of disobedience God says to Moses, “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.” It might seem harsh that this is the punishment after so many years of faithful service but here’s the point. God is THAT holy! Moses in that moment chose to act as though his feelings were more important than God’s decree and there were consequences for that choice. How often have we missed opportunities to be a part of something God was doing because we chose our own emotions over obeying Him?

I’m not trying to frighten you or say that if you ever mess up your life is over (remember if we confess our sins He is faithful and just to forgive them) but I am saying that we should take warning by this story and remember that no matter how we feel in a situation whether we’re angry, tired, afraid, unsure, over confident, etc God must be upheld as holy! And we show Him to be holy by believing and obeying Him. No matter what you are going through, no matter how strong your emotions remember to trust God and honor Him by choosing Him over your emotions. We don’t know what opportunities we’re missing out on when we are motivated by our selfish desires rather than by obedience to God. So Trust God over your own feelings about your situation.