Leader or Rebel?

Hits Rock | Devotion 5: Leader or Rebel?
John Rigg

“And Moses and Aaron gathered the assembly together before the rock; and he said to them, ‘Hear now, you rebels! Must we bring water for you out of this rock?’ Then Moses lifted his hand and struck the rock twice with his rod; and water came out abundantly, and the congregation and their animals drank.” Numbers 20:10-11 (NKJV) 

The Bible records Israel being labeled as “rebels” because of their murmuring and complaining all throughout their wilderness travels. It was their constant refusal to obey God’s commandments through the leadership of Moses and Aaron that earned them this title. After almost 40 years of dealing with Israel’s rebellious attitude, Moses has had enough. After inquiring of the Lord what to do over Israel’s recent complaint of having no water, Moses receives his instructions. Numbers 20:8 starts off by saying, “Take the staff, and assemble the congregation, you and Aaron your brother, and tell the rock before their eyes to yield its water.”

However, acting out of frustration and anger over their complaining, Numbers 20:11 tells us what Moses did, “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.”

Numbers 20:12 gives some harsh consequences, “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.’”

According to verse 12, Moses’ response to the rebellion was one of unbelief and irreverence towards God, costing him his opportunity to lead the people into the Promised Land, a judgment that seems a little harsh at first glance. However, it is not until we remember that God’s original desire was to bless the children of Israel with “water for them out of the rock.” They certainly did not deserve it, but what a wonderful example of grace and mercy!

In a moment of weakness and frustration, Moses disobeyed God by “striking the rock” instead of “speaking to the rock.” God desired the Israelites to see His power and His might so that they might believe in Him and trust Him; something they had been struggling to do since they first set out from Egypt. However, what they witnessed was Moses taking matters into his own hands. Verses 10 and 11 (NKJV) reveal His attitude and action, “‘Must we bring water for you out of this rock?’ Then Moses lifted his hand and struck the rock twice with his rod.” What the Israelites needed most was not to see the poor example of their leader, but to see the power and love of God through His graceful provision of water. God was not hallowed in the eyes of the children of Israel because of their leader’s poor decision. So, by disobeying God, the leader Moses became a rebel himself and shared in the punishment with the rest of the rebels.

If you have ever had the opportunity to lead people, eventually, you will find yourself in the same frustrating situation as Moses and Aaron. Listening to the complaints from those you are trying to lead is an inevitable part of leadership and joining in with the rebels is tempting. However, it will be your response to contention and strife that will either define you as a leader or number you among them.

Numbers 20:13 adds, “These are the waters of Meribah, where the people of Israel quarreled with the Lord, and through them he showed himself holy.”

“Meribah” translated into English, means provocation or strife.

From which waters are you drinking?

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