Not that I’m making excuses for Moses, but it must have been hard for him. The Israelites were constantly complaining and he had to bear the brunt of it. Of course, in reality, they were complaining against God and rejecting God, but since Moses was there in the flesh, they blamed it all on him. Poor guy. In Numbers 20, they were grumbling about not having any water to drink or grain, figs, grapes or pomegranates to eat. If we examine the history, we know that it was really their own fault that they were stuck there in the desert. If they had trusted God earlier, then they would have already entered the promised land, defeated the inhabitants, and taken their land that was flowing with milk and honey. But because they did not believe God and did not trust Him enough, they were stuck there in the desert until they died. God had already pronounced this judgment against them. But instead of self-recrimination, they blamed Moses. Poor guy. I can understand why he and Aaron would have been frustrated when this happened.
But they were blessed, too. In response, they turned to God and fell faced down in the ground before the Lord. And the Lord appeared in His glorious presence and spoke to them. If I was given the awesome blessing of God’s glorious presence and was given the privilege of hearing His audible voice, I think I would be stunned and overwhelmed. For sure, I’d be grateful and would be telling everyone about that experience until the day I died. But for Moses, I think this experience was kind of “old hat.” God had spoken to him untold numbers of times. He had spent 40 days on the mountain with God, two times. Perhaps Moses had become familiar with God’s presence and voice. Perhaps he was just too frustrated. But unfortunately for Moses, he did not exactly obey what God told him to do. God did not tell Moses to criticize the people or pronounce judgement on them. He just said to command the rock to pour out water. But Moses when and berated the people verbally and then struck the rock twice with his staff. Water did come out, but God told Moses and Aaron that they did not trust Him enough to demonstrate His holiness to the people of Israel. As a result, their punishment would be that they would not lead the people into the promised land. What a severe punishment. The adults of that generation also received the same punishment of not being allowed to go into the promised land. God promised that they would die in the desert before God allowed the people to enter the promised land. Now because Moses did not represent God well and the Waters of Meribah, He pronounced the very same judgment on Moses and Aaron.
What a severe punishment! They did not trust God enough to demonstrate His holiness to the people. They did not trust God enough. What was it that they did not trust God for? Was it that they took their eyes of God and put them on the people? Perhaps they were so overwhelmed with the burden of leadership and the people’s complaints that they did not trust that God could help them continue in leadership. What is this about demonstrating His holiness? What is it to be holy? It is to be set apart for God’s use. Definitely Moses and Aaron were set apart by God to be used to lead the people. I suppose that leaders in God’s house are to be set apart to represent God to the world, to the congregation. They are God’s spokesmen, their representatives. They were to accurately represent God’s intentions and desires and mood and purposes. They are like ambassadors. Moses did not represent God well to the people. Instead of commanding the rock to give its water, he yelled at the people: “Listen, you rebels! Must we bring water from this rock?” He used the work we, which I take to mean Aaron and himself, rather than him and God. Instead of representing God, they represented themselves. It may because of frustration or it may because of incredible pressure, but they did not trust God enough to demonstrate His holiness to the people.
Lord, as a leader, please help me to trust You enough to demonstrate Your holiness to the people. Please help me to represent You well and to be an accurate and very clear vessel for Your Kingdom. Shine Your light and words through me. Let me totally fade out and let Your glory shine through that You may be glorified in me. Help me to trust in You completely. Give me the strength to trust in You even through incredible pressure. Help me to believe in You even when everyone that I have been trying to love does not love me in return. Help me to truly serve only You. You alone are my God.