Numbers 20: 1-13, Moses disobeys God

Discussion in '2003 Archive' started by Barry and Helen Setterfield, Apr 19, 2003.

  1. Barry and Helen Setterfield

    Barry and Helen Setterfield
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    Dec 28, 2002
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    Numbers 20 begins and ends with death. Miriam dies and is buried in verse 1. By the end of the chapter, Aaron will be dead.

    Two brothers and a sister: Aaron, Miriam, and Moses. Miriam was known as a prophetess. Thus, we have represented in this one family the priesthood (Aaron), the prophets (Miriam), and the law (Moses). And none of them will be able to get the people into the promised land. It would be Joshua who got that privilege. The man who believed God in the beginning when he and Caleb went into scout out the land. These two would be the only two left from their generation who would enter that land.

    Interestingly, there would be another man, many years later, with the same name: Joshua. And He would be the only one capable of leading His people into the eternal Promised Land. The name, from the Hebrew, is often spelled “Y’shua.” The Greek is Jesus. The name “Y’shua”, or as we know it, “Joshua”, means “God saves” (the “God” in the word is represented by the “Y” or “J”, from the tetragrammaton YHWH). The law, the prophets, the priests cannot save. Only God can save.

    And God has used these pictures all the way through the history of Israel to explain and describe Himself and His actions.

    And it was when Moses destroyed one of these pictures that God was so furious with him that He declared Moses would never enter the land. The incident happens in this chapter.

    The incident itself seems almost innocuous. The people are again without water, and like their parents before them, the people are complaining bitterly about the entire episode of leaving Egypt and wandering in the desert for so long. And again Moses falls before the Lord in utter humility, on his face. And the Lord answers, saying,
    ”Take the staff, and you and your brother Aaron gather the assembly together. Speak to that rock before their eyes and it will pour out its water. You will bring water out of the rock for the community so they and their livestock can drink.”

    But Moses, in exasperation with these people he has been with for so long, and who have been so consistently rebellious, does not speak to the rock. He calls the Israelites rebels and strikes the rock twice. The water then gushes out – enough for all and their livestock.

    These were named the waters of Meribah, or ‘quarreling’.

    When God confronts Moses, what He says to Moses is only this:
    ”Because you did not trust I me enough to honor me as holy in the sight of the Israelites, you will not bring this community into the land I give them.”

    We know obedience means trust and honor. That part we understand.

    But when we look at something else – something Moses was not in a position to understand at the time – we see more. All through the Bible, God is referred to as the Rock. Look:

    Genesis 49:24But his bow remained steady,
    his strong arms stayed limber,
    bacause of the hand of the Mighty One of Jacob,
    because of the Shepherd the Rock of Israel,
    because of your father's God, who helps you...

    Deuteronomy 32:3-4 I will proclaim the name of the LORD,
    Oh, praise the greatness of our God!
    He is the Rock, his works are perfect, and all his ways are just.

    Deuteronomy 32:15Jeshurun grew fat and kicked;
    filled with food, he became heavy and sleek.
    He abandoned the God who made him
    and rejected the Rock his Savior.

    Deuteronomy 32:18You deserted the Rock, who fathered you;
    you forgot the God who gave you birth.

    Deuteronomy 32:30How could one man chase a thousand,
    or two put ten thousand to flight,
    unless their Rock had sold them,
    unless the LORD had given them up?
    For their rock is not like our Rock,
    even as our enemies concede.

    1 Samuel 2:2 is part of Hannah's prayer --
    There is no one holy like the LORD;
    there is no one besides you;
    there is no Rock like our God.

    2 Samuel 22:32 For who is God besides the LORD?
    And who is the Rock except our God?

    2 Samuel 22:47The LORD lives! Praise be to my Rock!
    Exalted be God, the Rock, my Savior!

    Psalm 18 repeats these sections of 2 Samuel 22

    Psalm 19:14 – May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
    be pleasing in your sight,
    O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.

    Psalm 28:1 – To you I call, O LORD my Rock;
    do not turn a deaf ear to me.

    Psalm 42:9 – I say to God my Rock,
    'Why have you forgotten me?
    Why must I go about mourning,
    oppressed by the enemy?

    Psalm 62:1-2 – My soul finds rest in God alone;
    my salvation comes from him.
    He alone is my Rock and my salvation;
    he is my fortress, I will never be shaken.

    Psalm 89:26 – "He will call out to me, 'You are my Father,
    my God, the Rock, my Savior.'"

    Psalm 92:15 – The LORD is upright;
    he is my Rock, and there is no wickedness in him.

    Psalm 95:1 – Come, let us sing for joy to the LORD;
    let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation.

    Psalm 144:1 – Praise be to the LORD my Rock,

    Isaiah 8:13-14 --
    The LORD Almighty is the one you are to regard as holy,
    he is the one you are to fear,
    he is the one you are to dread,
    and he will be a sanctuary;
    but for both houses of Israel he will be
    a stone that causes men to stumble
    and a rock that makes them fall.

    Isaiah 17:10You have forgotten God your Savior;
    you have not remembered the Rock, your fortress.

    Isaiah 26:4Trust in the LORD forever,
    for the LORD, the LORD, is the Rock eternal.

    Isaiah 44:8 You are my witnesses. Is there any God besides me?

    Now look at what Paul says in 1 Corinthians 10:1-5
    For I do not want you to be ignorant of the fact, brothers, that our forefathers were all under the cloud and that they all passed through the sea. They were all baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea. They all ate the same spiritual food and drank the same spiritual drink; for they drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them, and that rock was Christ. Nevertheless, God was not pleased with most of them; their bodies were scattered over the desert.

    In other words, the rock Moses struck was also a picture. Remember, back in Exodus 17, the first time these people ran into a dry situation, Moses WAS told to strike the rock, and water came out.

    Let’s review something in Isaiah that is familiar to most Christians:

    But he was pierced for our transgressions,
    he was crushed for our iniquities;
    the punishment that brought us peace was upon him,
    and by his wounds we are healed.

    Isaiah 53:5

    We know that Christ was beaten and crucified.

    Look at His words to the woman at the well in John 4:13-14
    ”Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

    Jesus is not only the Rock of Scripture, but the source of the eternal water of life.

    Now look at Hebrews 10:11-12
    Day after day every priest stands and performs his religious duties; again and again he offers the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But when this priest [Jesus Christ] had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God.

    Now, finally, go into the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 7:7
    ”Ask and it will be given to you….

    Moses had a picture to deliver. He was ordered to strike the Rock the first time. And Christ was struck and beaten one time for us. After that, as James (chapter 4) reminds us, we need only ask. And this was Moses’ job: to present the picture of simply needing to ask God, and it would be given.

    This second generation of people in the wilderness was also a picture, themselves, of the new life – the old life dead. Before, for sinners, Christ was struck. For those with the new life, only asking was needed. This picture of two generations in the wilderness is not a picture of the new nature of man which spiritual rebirth gives. It was, however, a clear picture of the fact that the old had to die and only the new would be accepted into the Promised Land. The picture of the new generation only needing to ask was to be presented.

    Moses did not present it, and God was angry. However best we not judge Moses ourselves – at least until one of us has spent the forty years of his life from ages 80 to 120 leading several million people through a wilderness, judging disputes, presenting God, and getting older every day.

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