“So Moses did as he was told. He took the staff from the place where it was kept before the Lord. Then he and Aaron summoned the people to come and gather at the rock. ‘Listen, you rebels!’ he shouted. ‘Must we bring you water from this rock?’ Then Moses raised his hand and struck the rock twice with the staff, and water gushed out. So the entire community and their livestock drank their fill. “ 20:9-10
It’s taken me a long time to accept this piece of Scripture. It’s a sad part of Moses’ journey of leading the Israelites. He has put up with whiny, complaining people who turn on him the second he walks away. He’s advocated for them, sparing them from God’s deserved wrath towards their behavior. He loses his patience, whacks a rock a couple times and now he doesn’t get to go into the Promised Land?!
Moses was exercising power that didn’t belong to him, and lording the authority God granted him over the Israelites in anger. Also, he was disrupting a beautiful picture God was painting for his people that he started setting up in Exodus 17. So God created a new picture, using Moses’ mistake:
He rebuked Moses and forbid him to enter the Promised Land. This illustrates that we cannot be freed from our slavery and enter into salvation (the Promised Land) by works of the Law (aka, by Moses), but only by the work of Jesus (or, by Joshua, who ends up leading the people into the Promised Land. The name ‘Joshua’ can be Yeshua or Jesus).
I’m still sad about the way this ended for Moses. I desire happy endings, hate consequences and want to see fruit of hard work sooner than later. Following God and leading his people looks like this sometimes. You don’t always get to see the reward of your hard work, because you’re not suppose to be working for the reward. And we still answer to a holy and sovereign God, no matter who we are in leadership.
Do you get impatient towards God’s people?
If God has granted you authority over people, are you stewarding it well?