Recently, I had the opportunity to preach on the life of Moses. Having grown up in the church, I thought I knew about all there was to know about him. I knew about him killing the Egyptian man, running to the desert, hearing from God at the burning bush, leading the people out of Egypt and then into the wilderness, and receiving the 10 Commandments on Mt. Sinai. As I began preparing to give my sermon, I realized there’s a lot more to Moses than just those instances. I saw how he was a flawed man, one might even say he was very flawed. Today, I want us to find comfort in that by looking at one moment of Moses’ life.
In Numbers chapter 20, we see Moses and Aaron leading the people in their wanderings in the wilderness. They have been wandering for about 39 years at this point and are close to finally entering Canaan. The Israelites have been without water for three days and begin to grumble and complain. Moses and Aaron petition God to provide water for them in Numbers 20:6-8 (NIV). Read those verses and see what God commands them to do. He gives them specific instructions: “Take the staff,” and “Speak to that rock before their eyes.” That is not what Moses does. Numbers 20:10-11 (NIV) tells us that in his anger, “Moses said to them, ‘Listen, you rebels, must we bring you water out of this rock?’ Then Moses raised his arm and struck the rock twice with his staff. Water gushed out, and the community and their livestock drank.” Moses chose to speak to the people and strike the rock, instead of speaking to the rock. In his anger at the people, he chose to disobey God. As a result of his disobedience, God did not allow Moses to lead the people into the Promised Land.
There is a valuable lesson to be seen here. It was not Moses’ anger that was disobedience, but what he did in his anger. His reaction, striking the rock and not regarding God as holy, was the sin. For us, our family lives are not perfect. No mother has been perfect, nor son, daughter, grandparent, or father. When we think about their mistakes and shortcomings, it can lead us to become angry. This is especially true if they have hurt us with their actions or lack of action. The temptation when we get angry at someone is to lash out, gossip, or push them further from us. Today, choose what you will do with your anger. Will you allow it to lead you into sin or will you bring it to our loving, perfect Heavenly Father?
Our sinful nature tells us that we will feel better once we just “get it off our chest,” by gossiping or telling that person off. Psychology tells us that it does not make us feel better. It just leads us into a dangerous cycle of feeling in control, when in reality, our anger is in control. We see in the life of Moses that we must be very careful what we do with our anger.
I want to conclude with a final observation from this encounter with Moses. God still brought water out of the rock! In His grace, He still provided for His people, even though Moses disobeyed. In His grace, God will provide for you what you need today if you seek Him. Seek Him today.