In the days of Moses, God gave him a calling to lead the children of Israel out of Egypt and delivered them from the bondage of slavery. This was the time when God performed many amazing miracles, signs and wonders one after another.
The ten plagues that fell upon the Egyptians so that they would release the children of Israel. The parting of the Red Sea so that they could walk on dry land while the Egyptian soldiers drowned after them. The supernatural provisions of manna and bringing out of water from rocks.
Out of these miracles, one incident resulted in Moses paying a great price - the price of not being able to enter into the Promised land. It was the miracle of striking the rock to bring out water, as recorded in the book of Exo 17:1-6 and Exo 20:1-12.
This miracle happened twice in the Bible. First time, it happened in Exo 17. The children of Israel were camping in Rephidim and there was no water to drink. The people complained against Moses that he brought them out of Egypt to kill them with thirst. Moses cried out to the Lord and God instructed him to go before the people, take with him some elders, take the rod and go to the rock in Horeb, strike it and water would come out of it for the people to drink. As Moses obeyed and did exactly according to God's instructions, the miracle took place.
God repeated it a second time in Num 20. The children of Israel came to Kadesh and there was no water for the congregation to drink. Again the people were upset with Moses and contented with him. So Moses and Aaron went to seek God for a solution. This time, God told Moses to take the rod, gather the congregation with Aaron, speak to the rock before their eyes and it would yield water for the people and their animals to drink.
The two events eventually concluded with the same outcome: drinking water came out of the rock.
But as you look at each event carefully and compare them, you will realize that God had meant to do a greater miracle on the second occasion.
In the first event, the miracle was meant to be performed before a smaller group of people - the elders only, the water would come out from striking by rod and the water was meant for the people to drink it.
For the second event, God had originally planned for the miracle to be witnessed by more people - before the congregation, Moses did not even need to lift his hands to strike the rod but only need to speak to the rock and that it would yield more water as it was meant for the people and their animals to drink.
What exactly was wrong with what Moses did? He merely struck the rock instead of speaking to the rock. Or was it merely that?
The children of Israel were grumbling and complaining time and again about having no water to drink. Their attitude was indeed rebellious. But notice that on both occasions when Moses came before God for solution, God did not express in any way that He was upset with His people. He merely gave Moses instructions on how to provide drinking water for them.
Furthermore on the second occasion, God had intended to show the children of Israel His goodness, His greatness and glory that by only speaking a word, water could also come out of the rock.
Unfortunately, instead of following God's instructions, these were the things that Moses did on the second event:
1. He rebuked the people and called them rebels.
2. He complained that he had to bring water out of rock for them.
3. He struck the rock twice.
Moses made very grave mistakes. First, Moses misrepresented God and fouled up BIG-TIME.
God was not the one who was upset with the children of Israel. Moses was the one who was so upset with the people contending and accusing him repeatedly. In his fleshly anger, he misrepresented God. To the children of Israel, Moses was the spokesman for God. God spoke to them through Moses. Thus, Moses' rebuke to the people appeared as if God was the one who was angry, called them rebels and unwilling to provide for them water again. His misrepresentation was a direct contrary of God wanting to show them His grace, mercy and compassion.
The second mistake Moses made was in distrusting God and disobeying His word. This time, God clearly told Moses to speak to the rock. But in his flesh, Moses could not believe that it could possibly happen that way. He doubted God. So he chose to rely on his past experience and past success. He chose to use back the same method of striking the rock to recreate the miracle.
Yet despite Moses' mistakes, God still brought water out of the rock a second time because of His love for His people. However, Moses and Aaron had to pay a heavy price for it for not believing in God and not honoring Him in the eyes of the children of Israel. They were not allowed to enter into God's Promised land.
What can we learn from here and how can we apply them to our own walk with God?
There are 7 important lessons:
1. Understand the nature of God's goodness, grace and mercy; do not misrepresent Him in the way we conduct our life.
2. God is loving and compassionate toward us, even when our attitude may not deserve it.
3. Learn to trust God, obey His word and follow His instructions carefully, even if it is against our logic and understanding.
4. In your fleshly anger, do not sin against God.
5. Don't act rashly base on your flesh. Be led by the Holy Spirit.
6. Do not rely on your past experiences, methods and success; what may work before may not work again.
7. God is a God of new things, new ways and He likes to do it better and more glorious each time.
As you begin to hear from God and step out in obedience and faith, you will see unusual miracles happening. Where there is lack, God will provide for you in unimaginable ways. Not only that, God wants to reveal His glory in you. He is preparing to do a greater and better miracle for you each time!
1 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?" 3 And the people thirsted there for water, and the people complained against Moses, and said, "Why is it you have brought us up out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and our livestock with thirst?" 4 So Moses cried out to the Lord, saying, " What shall I do with this people? They are almost ready to stone me!" 5 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."
1 Then the children of Israel, the whole congregation, came into the Wilderness of Zin in the first month, and the people stayed in Kadesh; and Miriam died there and was buried there. 2 Now there was no water for the congregation; so they gathered together against Moses and Aaron. 3 And the people contended with Moses and spoke, saying: “If only we had died when our brethren died before the Lord ! 4 Why have you brought up the assembly of the Lord into this wilderness, that we and our animals should die here? 5 And why have you made us come up out of Egypt, to bring us to this evil place? It is not a place of grain or figs or vines or pomegranates; nor is there any water to drink.” 6 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.”
Dear God, I am sorry for the times that I have not trusted in You and disobeyed Your word. Help me not to merely depend on my flesh, my past experiences and success and miss out the greater miracles that You have in store for me. Thank You for Your love, grace and compassion toward me even when I complained while my breakthrough had yet to come. You are my good heavenly Father and you desire to take care of me and provide for me. I will learn to put my faith and trust in You. Speak to me clearly that I may obey Your word and step into the Promised land that You have prepared for me. I pray that from today onward, You will show me more of Your glory and greatness in my life each day.
In Jesus' name I pray, Amen!