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Wednesday, July 9, 2014

By the Word of the Lord

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. 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. 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.”
Numbers 20:6-12 (ESV) 

Moses had a daunting task. He led a huge group of people to believe in God's promises. They had to take the word of the Lord before they could take the deeds of the Lord. Their faith was tested again and again and they thought they could complain to about and to Moses with impunity. His only solace came from the Lord's speaking to him personally. He must have gotten very tired of what the Lord had called him to do.

So, one day the people complain because they lack water. They tell Moses they would have been better off if they had never listened to Moses. They have forgotten their slavery and look longingly backward at Egypt. They remember their past with fondness and condemn their future. They were acting like Moses and God had no interest in their welfare. That must have hurt Moses.

Yet, he goes before God once again. God tells him to take his rod and speak to the rock before the people and water will come out for them and their cattle. Moses does exactly what the Lord has asked until he gets in front of the people. I wonder if something happened along the way. Did someone complain and question his character again for Moses calls them rebels?

But instead of speaking to the rock, he strikes is twice with his rod. The water gushed out and the congregation's needs were met. However, God is not pleased. He sees Moses transgression as so great that He bans Moses from entering the Promised Land. Does this make sense? Doesn't God take into account our humanity when He calls us to any task? Wasn't Moses due some grace? But we aren't seeing this as God sees it.

God allowed the people to go through the hardships so that they would learn that they did not live by bread alone.

3 And he humbled you and let you hunger and fed you with manna, which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that he might make you know that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.
Deuteronomy 8:3 (ESV) 

They must live by every word that God says. They needed to know that God speaks and it is. They saw Moses perform rather than speak. It may seem subtle but everyone needs to learn that hearing God is the same as seeing Him provide, heal, or provide any miracle that is needed. That is why anyone who has received God's promise of salvation can rejoice in it because God has said it. We call ourselves saved even when we are still on this earth because His word has said so. God says it and it is even if we haven't seen Him working.

The people didn't learn to live on God's word that day. Moses action severely hindered their faith. He acted without believing that he could speak on God's behalf for water to come forth from the rock. He struck the rock because he didn't believe. He transferred that lack of belief to the congregation.

I am afraid that I am just as guilty as Moses. I, too, have been striking the rock rather than speaking to it. I, too, have a failure in belief. I, too, need to remember that I must live by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord. This is really what holds back the congregation I serve.

So, I pray that I will finally believe that I must live by the Word of the Lord.

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