Read: Numbers 20:2-13; Psalm 106:32-33; Deuteronomy 3:23-28
As I type this, it appears that we have once again missed some much-needed precipitation. I know that some parts of our state and the country as a whole have received too much snow. All I can say is to please share because here, it is quite dry. That is not only hard on the plants and trees, it is sometimes hard on us too. I'm thinking of my skin which can really become dry when the humidity is as low as it sometimes is here in Western South Dakota. No wonder I'm so thankful for lotion. If I forget to apply it to my arms, it won't be long before I'll grab the lotion to ward off the flaky feeling I'm noticing, and if I wash the lotion off during the day? I don't hesitate to apply more. It's so soothing, bringing relief from the every-day dryness.
There's another dryness that creeps into our lives that can't be alleviated by any cream, butter or lotion no matter how expensive the product might be. It is the dryness of the thinking of the world that bombards us each day. It tries to erode the truth and replace it with other thoughts. If unchecked, hardness, bitterness, anger or cynicism can come into our thinking and into our speech and actions. What to do to protect ourselves? Grab the lotion. No, not the kind in the jar or pump bottle. The soothing and reviving Word of God. And if it gets washed off by the assault of lies? Grab the truth again and let it sooth those places that have become parched and dry. Let's look into Moses' life to see the importance of continuing to apply God's truth in our every-day walk with the Lord.
What a man Moses was. Although he dug in his heels at first when the LORD called him, Exodus 3-4, once he took on his mission as deliverer, he led with vigor. He was strong and unwavering before the Pharaoh, never backing down and faithfully proclaiming the Word of the Lord. In Psalm 106:8-12, we read how the LORD parted the Red Sea and brought the people through. The enemy was swallowed up in the sea, and the people believed God's Word. Sadly, that belief was often short-lived, and the following verses in Psalm 106 chronicle several times when the people forgot God's mighty deliverance and rebelled against Him.
The incident we will camp on today is laid out for us in Numbers 20:2-13. The people were once again quarreling with Moses. The sad thing is that their need was legitimate. They were thirsty because they had no water; however, their words were rebellious. They called the place where they were an "evil place." They said that they wished that they had died as their brothers had died. God had an answer, and it involved Moses. For the second time, God would bring water out of a rock. Enough to give drink to all the people and their livestock. Once again, the LORD would do a mighty miracle, but this time, Moses was not told to strike the rock; instead, the man of God was told merely to speak to the rock. God's instructions were straight forward and clear. Then it happened. The event that would change so much for Moses. He struck the rock twice and spoke words of anger. Words God hadn't instructed him to say. God said that His man had misrepresented Him before the people, and the cost to Moses would be great. In spite of the fact that Moses spoke to God face to face as a man speaks with his friend, Exodus 33:11, Moses' misrepresentation and disobedience would mean that he would not be permitted to lead the people into the Promised Land, Numbers 20:10-13.
Psalm 106:32-33 gives us a glimpse into why Moses reacted the way he did on that game-changing day. Though he had led the people faithfully, even interceding on their behalf before the LORD, there was anger and bitterness in him that evidently hadn't been soothed. I have to say that I can certainly understand how the years of rebellion could have worn Moses down. What could Moses have done with those understandable feelings brought on by the people and their complaining and unbelief?
The same thing that we can do. He could rely on God's power for this daunting task, rather than trying to gut it out in his own strength. And when he could tell that the weariness of the job was stacking up? He could return to receive the refilling of God's truth that was specifically for him.
Please don't hear me say that any of this is easy. Moses, like us, battled with his fleshly ways, and he, like us, had an adversary, Satan who wanted to make him ineffective as a leader, 1 Peter 5:8. All the more reason to run to God for His strengthening and soothing words. There is no limit to how many times we can come to the Lord to be refreshed by His truth, Matthew 11:28-30. He knows how to take the places that have begun to be parched and make them fountains of grace instead.
Back to Moses. In Deuteronomy 3:23-28, we are reminded of the holiness of God and how important it is that we live a God-honoring life. In these verses, we see that Moses pleaded with God that he be permitted to lead the people into the new land. I love that Moses asked God, hoping that God might relent concerning what He had said. However, God gave His man a firm no and told him not to bring up this request again.
God's love is great, but so is His holiness.
This incident in Moses' life reminds me of the sweet truth in John 3:16. God's love is so great that He gave Jesus. Anyone who puts his trust in God's provision will not perish but he will have everlasting life. Walking beautifully alongside of God's unfathomable love is God's holiness. Anyone who rejects God's provision will perish. No pleading will make that truth different. God's holiness requires that sin be punished, and if a person will not choose God's remedy, no remedy remains for him. God has unlimited grace, but He dispenses it only through Jesus, John 19:30. God wants to remind us of both these truths that we see so clearly in Moses' life.
Lord, Let the truth of Your Word strengthen and sooth us so we can offer that comfort to others. Thank You that You never tire of our coming to You for what we lack.