Moses learned that His success in leadership was about listening to God’s instructions, obeying, and doing it His way!
Then all the congregation of the children of Israel set out on their journey from the Wilderness of Sin, according to the commandment of the Lord, and camped in Rephidim; but there was no water for the people to drink. 2 Therefore the people contended with Moses, and said, “Give us water, that we may drink.”
So Moses said to them “Why do you contend with me? Why do you tempt the Lord?”
And the Lord said to Moses, “Go on before the people, and take with you some of the elders of Israel. Also take in your hand your rod with which you struck the river, and go. 6 Behold, I will stand before you there on the rock in Horeb; and you shall strike the rock, and water will come out of it, that the people may drink.” And Moses did so in the sight of the elders of Israel. Exodus 17:5-6
The above passage tells us about another instance when the Israelites had no water, and they contended with Moses. This time the Lord directed Moses to strike the rock, and water came out for them to drink.
This was not an easy situation for the Israelites or Moses. Moses was just doing what the Lord was directing him. It was God’s idea that the Israelites to be rescued from the hand of the Egyptians, but when the circumstances became difficult they blamed Moses for bringing them out of Egypt. They tended to forget God’s faithfulness and began to complain to Moses!
In reality, we are not much different. When things go our way, we are happy and grateful to the Lord, but when something doesn’t go our way, we begin to complain. Then discouragement sets in. Furthermore, we look for someone, such as our spouse, children, boss, etc. to blame for our discontentment.
What are the areas that you are discouraged about? Who are you blaming for your discontentment? What is the Lord saying about this area?
So Moses and Aaron went from the presence of the assembly to the door of the tabernacle of meeting, and they fell on their faces. And the glory of the Lord appeared to them.
7 Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 8 “Take the rod; you and your brother Aaron gather the congregation together. Speak to the rock before their eyes, and it will yield its water; thus you shall bring water for them out of the rock, and give drink to the congregation and their animals.” 9 So Moses took the rod from before the Lord as He commanded him.
10 And Moses and Aaron gathered the assembly together before the rock; and he said to them, “Hear now, you rebels! Must we bring water for you out of this rock?” 11 Then Moses lifted his hand and struck the rock twice with his rod; and water came out abundantly, and the congregation and their animals drank.
12 Then the Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron, “Because you did not believe Me, to hallow Me in the eyes of the children of Israel, therefore you shall not bring this assembly into the land which I have given them.” Numbers 20:6-12
The Israelites faced with another instance of lack of water, and they began to complain to Moses again. The above passage tells us that Moses and Aaron fell to their faces and earnestly sought God. No wonder Moses is called the most humble man (See Numbers 12:3)! Anyone who had to deal with all the complaining people with little or no gratitude for his service from the people, it would make a humble man!
The scripture tells us that God told Moses to speak to it, but Moses struck the rock twice and water came out. The Israelites received what they had been complaining about, but Moses did not follow God’s instructions to achieve the goal. God was not pleased with Moses because He saw him as doing it out of anger and not representing the Lord to the people.
There are a few lessons we can learn from these stories:
- God’s instructions change over time, and we need to be in tune with Him.
- Repeating something that has worked in the past does not guarantee God’s approval.
- Man’s anger does not bring about God’s righteousness (See James 1:20).
- The Lord teaches us that He does not bless the strength of the flesh and self-effort.
- Success in leadership is closely tied to us remaining dependent on the Lord, be forgiving, be patient, and following God’s instructions completely!
The first two times, Moses had to do something, but this time all he needed was to speak to the rock. He needed to declare it, and it would have been done. The Lord was actually simplifying things for Moses, but Moses was so used to action that he allowed his anger to move him into action.
Similarly, the cross simplified life. We get to enter the rest of God because of what Jesus did. We don’t have to labor and strive to make things happen. Now we speak to the mountains. Some of us are so used to hard things that when God wants to simplify our lives, we are not used to it. We still think we need to make a lot of effort to make things happen. Jesus died so we can have the life He bought for us. He finished the work and now we get to walk in it! When G0d leads us to speak to the rock, let’s just declare His word over our situation in Jesus’ name!
Image by Frank Winkler from Pixabay