Numbers 18-20 Tell the rock, don’t strike the rock

From Numbers 18-20

04 NumbersQ. When Jesus was transfigured, was Moses allowed into the promised land?

This post is part of my bible in a year series.

Passage and Comments

This incident has ongoing consequences for Moses and immediate consequences for Aaron.

[2] Now there was no water for the congregation. And they assembled themselves together against Moses and against Aaron. [3] And the people quarreled with Moses and said, “Would that we had perished when our brothers perished before the LORD! [4] Why have you brought the assembly of the LORD into this wilderness, that we should die here, both we and our cattle? [5] And why have you made us come up out of Egypt to bring us to this evil place? It is no place for grain or figs or vines or pomegranates, and there is no water to drink.”  (Num 20:2-5)

Clearly the people have not learned its a big no no, to regret leaving Egypt. Its like denouncing your faith and salvation. But this time the LORD is gracious with them.

[6] Then Moses and Aaron went from the presence of the assembly to the entrance of the tent of meeting and fell on their faces. And the glory of the LORD appeared to them, [7] and the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, [8] “Take the staff, and assemble the congregation, you and Aaron your brother, and tell the rock before their eyes to yield its water. So you shall bring water out of the rock for them and give drink to the congregation and their cattle.” [9] And Moses took the staff from before the LORD, as he commanded him. (Num 20:6-9)

It was quite a simple instruction really. My guess it that all the people knew what the LORD wanted Moses to do.

[10] Then Moses and Aaron gathered the assembly together before the rock, and he said to them, “Hear now, you rebels: shall we bring water for you out of this rock?” [11] And Moses lifted up his hand and struck the rock with his staff twice, and water came out abundantly, and the congregation drank, and their livestock. (Num 20:10-11)

Moses struck the rock, he did not tell the rock to bring forth water. I guess it required greater faith to tell the rock to yield water. If Moses had done so the LORD would have been glorified.

[12] And the LORD said to Moses and Aaron, “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.” [13] These are the waters of Meribah, where the people of Israel quarreled with the LORD, and through them he showed himself holy. (Num 20:12-13)

It is interesting to note that even while Moses struck the rock, twice. The LORD was gracious and merciful enough the provide water for them anyhow. Yet the consequences of Moses and Aaron sin in front of the people will have consequences. So the LORD must continue to demonstrate his holiness in front of the people.

Story of Israel

Click to enlarge.
Click to enlarge.

The LORD must uphold his holy name in the sight of the people. Not only with Moses, as we will find out. But with Israel in general. The LORD honours his name in two ways. Firstly when Israel is disobedient he casts them out of his land. The LORD does not tolerate disobedience. Secondly, in line with his promises, the LORD will bring his people into the promised land. When he does so they will obey him (Eze 36.16-32).

Story of Jesus

Unlike Moses and Aaron, Jesus never sinned. While sometimes the leaders above us falter as Moses and Aaron did, we have a sinless Christ who leads us now. We are immeasurably blessed to have him as our leader and king. Jesus is the rock. Listen to Paul;

[10:1] For I do not want you to be unaware, brothers, that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea, [2] and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, [3] and all ate the same spiritual food,
[4] and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank from the spiritual Rock that followed them, and the Rock was Christ.
[5] Nevertheless, with most of them God was not pleased, for they were overthrown in the wilderness. [6] Now these things took place as examples for us, that we might not desire evil as they did.
[7] Do not be idolaters as some of them were; as it is written, “The people sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play.” [8] We must not indulge in sexual immorality as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in a single day. [9] We must not put Christ to the test, as some of them did and were destroyed by serpents, [10] nor grumble, as some of them did and were destroyed by the Destroyer.
[11] Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come. [12] Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall. [13] No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. (1 Cor 10:1-13)

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