It’s hard to be a leader. Just ask Moses. He was charged with leading the most ungrateful, whiny bunch of human beings across a desert for 40 years. They probably didn’t travel twenty minutes on any given day before someone, somewhere started complaining about how great they had it in Egypt and why did they all come out into the wilderness just to die. Never mind that God had performed unbelievable miracles for them. Food literally fell out of the sky for these folks every single day. God had a visible presence in their camp: a pillar of cloud by day and fire by night. When the pillar moved, they moved. However, nothing was ever good enough. They were never blessed enough or comfortable enough or successful enough.
You have to hand it to Moses. Every time the Israelites complained, it would understandably anger God and Moses would always pray that they not be wiped off the earth. If it was me, I’d probably pray about three times. On the fourth go around, I’d probably say, “Waste ‘em. We’ll make more.”
In Numbers 20, Moses and Aaron once again find themselves in front of an unhappy throng. Today, they are dying of dehydration, which never would have happened if Moses had just been kind enough to leave them in Egypt to languish in slavery. Since there is no river or spring close by, Moses and Aaron seek the counsel of God about providing water.
In verse 8, God tells Moses and Aaron to take the staff and assemble the entire community. There they will speak to the rock, which will burst open with water enough for everyone and their livestock. So, Moses and Aaron take the staff and gather everyone around like God said to do. For reasons that are not mentioned in scripture, instead of speaking to the rock, Moses hits it twice with the staff. Water comes out and everyone is happy… except God.
While I’m no Bible scholar, I can understand why Moses hit the rock. Wouldn’t you be frustrated and tired of hearing people do nothing but whine and complain constantly? So probably Moses got everyone together, smacked the rock and thought, “Fine! Drink! Leave me alone!”
While understandable, hitting the rock was not what God instructed. The people got what they wanted, but with God, the means to the end matter. Moses and Aaron were called to trust God in every single area of their lives in very specific ways. God took this misstep very seriously. As a punishment for going freestyle, Moses and Aaron would not be allowed to enter the Promised Land.
It’s easy to get into the trap of “good enough” or the “general idea.” God tells us to do (or not to do) things for a reason. Regardless of whether or not the end result is the same, the fact of the matter is that we are called to complete obedience and total trust. If you are going to do God’s work, you have to do it God’s way. It’s incredibly easy to be affected by all the voices around you demanding to be heard, but we can never let any of those voices be louder than the voice of God.
© Sandra Perry 2014