Originally published Monday, 29 July 2013.
God said: "Speak to that rock."
Man said: "[Struck] the rock twice with his staff."
What's wrong with this picture?
Sounds to me God and Moses were saying two different things. I was reading Numbers 20 in my One-Year Bible this week, and couldn't help but see a familiar picture.
God says one thing; we do another. Or he (or she) says one thing, and we say (or do) another.
It Starts With A Problem (Doesn't it always?)
"Now there was no water for the community, and the people gathered in opposition to Moses and Aaron" (Numbers 20:2, NIV).
No matter how perfect we think our relationships are, give others the benefit of the doubt, or claim to be perfect--we come face to face with problems.
This world is not perfect. Moses served imperfect people striving to follow a perfect God. They came upon no water, and once again the people grumbled against Moses and the Lord.
Moses was used to accusations; just like you and I are. His leadership was questioned; just like yours and mine are.
Moses and Aaron humbled themselves. They fell "facedown" before the Lord. After spending time before the Lord, God gave Moses simple instructions: speak to the rock. God had told Moses to strike the rock before (Exodus 17:6). This time, for whatever reason, things were different.
Moses leaves God's presence and perfectly obeys God's command.
He goes, but instead of obeying the word of the Lord in full, he partially obeys. He strikes the rock twice instead of speaking to it.
This may sound like a game of God said-he said, but there is Truth for our relationships.
Moses knew better; as do we.
God may have been testing His listening ears. Sometimes, we are so used to old habits that we have no idea our disobedience to God is affecting others from honoring His holiness because of our sin. Wow.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer said in his book Life Together, "Alone you stood before God when he called you; alone you had to answer that call; alone you had to struggle and pray; and alone you will die and give an account to God."
Moses brought dishonor to God and also sealed his own fate. He is further cut off from bringing the Israelites into the Promise Land (Numbers 20:12).
Charles Ringma prays for us, "Lord, grant that I may ever have the courage to face You and the challenges of life. Help me not to hide or rationalize and not to see personal security above the doing of Your will. Amen."