Exodus 16:8b, “Who are we? You are not grumbling against us but against the Lord.”
Now, remember those words of Moses.
Now, then they moved again, traveling from place to place. Then they camped at ‘Rephidim’ and there was no water to drink. They grumbled against the Lord and quarrelled against Moses and Aaron. Moses again responded,
Exodus 17:2b, “Why do you quarrel with me? Why do you put the Lord to the test?”
Once again, notice Moses’ response.
So, God commanded Moses to take the STAFF and strike the rock. The same staff that Moses used ever since his first encounter of the Lord in the burning bush in Exodus 3. This staff was with him while he was tending Jethro’s sheep. This is something to note as that staff became the authority of God or authority from God. The authority mankind lost when Adam and Eve sinned. So, Moses went to the rock in the presence of the community and struck the rock, and it gave out water. Everyone drank and was satisfied. This is the waters of Massah and Meribah.
Now, fast forward to Numbers 20. The bible doesn’t clearly say when this event happened, but it is for sure happened almost towards the end of their 40-year life in the desert.
Deuteronomy 1:3, In the fortieth year, on the first day of the eleventh month, Moses proclaimed to the Israelites all that the Lord had commanded him concerning them. 4 This was after he had defeated Sihon king of the Amorites, who reigned in Heshbon, and at Edrei had defeated Og king of Bashan, who reigned in Ashtaroth.
As you can see that Moses proclaimed something to the Israelites in their 40th year. This was after the defeat of King Sihon. Going back to Numbers 21, King Sihon was defeated after the second rebellion against Moses and God with regards to water. So, all the events that happened from Exodus 17 until Numbers 21 took about 40 years.
Now, back to Numbers 20, the community is now at the Desert of Zin. Miriam died, and then there was no water to drink. So, the Israelites rebelled against Moses and Aaron. Now, if you read, the Bible says, Moses went away from the assembly to the tent of the meeting and fell facedown.
Numbers 20:2 Now, there was no water for the community, and the people gathered in opposition to Moses and Aaron. 3 They quarrelled with Moses and said, “If only we had died when our brothers fell dead before the Lord! 4 Why did you bring the Lord’s community into this wilderness, that we and our livestock should die here? 5 Why did you bring us up out of Egypt to this terrible place? It has no grain or figs, grapevines, or pomegranates. And there is no water to drink!”
6 Moses and Aaron went from the assembly to the entrance to the tent of meeting and fell facedown, and the glory of the Lord appeared to them. 7 The Lord said to Moses, “8 “Take the staff, and you and your brother Aaron gather the assembly together. Speak to that rock before their eyes, and it will pour out its water. You will bring water out of the rock for the community so they and their livestock can drink.”
9 So Moses took the staff from the Lord’s presence, just as he commanded him. 10 He and Aaron gathered the assembly together in front of the rock, and Moses said to them, “Listen, you rebels, must we bring you water out of this rock?” 11 Then Moses raised his arm and struck the rock twice with his staff. Water gushed out, and the community and their livestock drank.
12 But the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, “Because you did not trust in me enough to honour me as holy in the sight of the Israelites, you will not bring this community into the land I give them.”
Did you notice something?
You may have heard people say that Moses did not enter the Holy Land because he disobeyed God by striking the rock twice. There is a meaning to it, which I will come to it in a moment. But, notice what God said in verse 12, “Because you did not trust in me enough to honour me as holy in the sight of the Israelites, you will not bring this community into the land I give them.”
Does that sound like God is complaining that Moses disobeyed? To me, it doesn’t sound like that. Do you still remember my quote earlier, “take note of Moses’ response.” That’s right, Moses did not respond to make similar response saying, “why are you rebelling against God when he has done marvellous things for you so far?”
This is the main reason why Moses and Aaron did not enter the Holy Land as they didn’t speak for God when people rebelled against God. I’ve checked many of the other accounts where the Israelites rebelled. At least someone responded by saying “do not rebel against the Lord” like Joshua’s response in Numbers 14:9. So, this is the waters of the Meribah account.
So, it is important for us to portray God as Holy and truthful to others when they complain, in my understanding. When I say “others”, it’s the God’s people I am talking about; not the people of other faith as they are talking about a different god.
The Rock – Lord Jesus is the Rock. When he was struck the first-time, life-giving (both life and eternal life) water came out of him, just like Exodus 17. We must not strike him again but ask (speak to the rock – Numbers 20:8b) for the water, and the water will flow. What does it mean to strike again? When we rebel or disobey his commands, he gets hurt. Do we not get hurt when the one we love disobeys us? What happens when we strike the Rock – rebel or disobey? I believe he will still give water just how the water came out when Moses struck the rock twice, but they will be called rebels. What happened to the rebels? I’ll continue that in the bronze snake event, my next topic.
Staff – the authority that we have in the name of our Lord Jesus. The authority that was lost when Adam and Eve sinned. We always have that authority with us, like Moses always held it in his hands until God enabled it to be powerful.
3 John 1:4, Greater joy have I none than this, to hear of my children walking in the truth.