Once again the children of Israel rebel against the LORD and His servant Moses. The complaint was a common one: no food or water. Despite the miraculous provision of God for the people they rebel once again. Moses is a little fed up at this point and falls into sin. There are many lessons to be learned from Numbers 20:1-13 and a few are highlighted below.
When trouble arises call on the Lord for guidance. Moses and Aaron seek God at the tabernacle of meeting, where the LORD appeared to them in His glory (Numbers 20:6). The person who is poor in spirit does not move without obtaining God’s will.
God in His goodness will lovingly provide for His people (Numbers 20:7-9). The LORD presents a plan for Moses to follow so the children of Israel will drink the water from the rock. The instructions were specific and were to be followed in detail.
God was not angry with the children of Israel. The LORD wanted to provide because He is the Provider. Note in Numbers 20:7-9 that God was not angry. Moses as prophet was to represent the word of the LORD to the people and we will see he does not follow the instructions given to him.
Moses in anger takes credit for the miracle and implies that God is angry with the people (Numbers 20:10). Moses calls the children of Israel rebels, even though that was not commanded of the LORD. Then Moses says, “Must we bring water for you out of this rock for you?” (HCSB) What happened to the Moses that did works only in the power of God’s will? He at this moment was not a person being poor in spirit.
Moses strikes the rock instead of speaking to it (Numbers 20:11). Moses was disobedient to the word of the LORD. When God guides us we need to follow that leading specifically. We are not to add to the LORD’s word (Deuteronomy 4:2 and 12:32; Proverbs 30:6; and Revelation 22:18).
Moses’ misrepresentation of God and his disobedience brings dire consequences to Moses (Numbers 20:12). Because of this incident due to the anger and pride of Moses he was not allowed to bring the children of Israel into the Promised Land. Moses died in the wilderness in an unmarked grave. When representing the LORD to people we must present Him in all His glory. Moses failed to do so; he failed to hallow God.
The Rock was Christ:
And all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank from a spiritual rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ. (1 Corinthians 10:4, HCSB; see also John 4:10, 13-14)
God wanted to give us a type of Christ in this incident and Moses failed to present it. How many pastors, evangelists, and prophets misrepresent Christ today? I would say it happens all the time. Twice Moses was to be used to bring water out of the Rock in order to give the people drink. But the Lord does not always use the same methods and there is a lesson to be learned from that: don’t assume that a formula will bring you success. God is the Giver, not you doing your hocus pocus by not following the specific command of the LORD and doing it your way. The first time the LORD told Moses to strike the Rock (Exodus 17:6) because Christ is once stricken (Isaiah 53:4, 8) for us; this is the picture drawn in the first incident. When Moses was commanded to speak to the Rock the second time it was to represent that Christ had only to be stricken once for our transgressions (Hebrews 7:27 and 9:12). Moses was to speak to the rock which represents praying to Christ our High Priest and intercessor (Romans 8:34 and Hebrews 7:25). The type would have been presented to the people.
Moses failed and we will all fail too. But God wants to complete the work He started in you and in me. Submit to His will moment by moment and let your life transform into that person of character, being poor in spirit.
I am sure of this, that He who started a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. (Philippians 1:6, HCSB)
Learn from Moses’ failure and live every moment as a person poor in spirit. Remember it is not what you do, it is who you are. If you follow the main points with godly character brought about by the working of the Holy Spirit in your life you will be victorious in all you do because it is Him doing it!