Numbers 20:1-13 (NRSV)
God gives water from the rock
The Israelites, the whole congregation, came into the wilderness of Zin in the first month, and the people stayed in Kadesh. Miriam died there, and was buried there.
Now there was no water for the congregation; so they gathered together against Moses and against Aaron. The people quarreled with Moses and said, "Would that we had died when our kindred died before the Lord! Why have you brought the assembly of the Lord into this wilderness for us and our livestock to die here? Why have you brought us up out of Egypt, to bring us to this wretched place? It is no place for grain, or figs, or vines, or pomegranates; and there is no water to drink." Then Moses and Aaron went away from the assembly to the entrance of the tent of meeting; they fell on their faces, and the glory of the Lord appeared to them. The Lord spoke to Moses, saying: Take the staff, and assemble the congregation, you and your brother Aaron, and command the rock before their eyes to yield its water. Thus you shall bring water out of the rock for them; thus you shall provide drink for the congregation and their livestock.
So Moses took the staff from before the Lord, as he had commanded him. Moses and Aaron gathered the assembly together before the rock, and he said to them, "Listen, you rebels, shall we bring water for you out of this rock?" Then Moses lifted up his hand and struck the rock twice with his staff; water came out abundantly, and the congregation and their livestock drank. But the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, "Because you did not trust in me, to show my holiness before the eyes of the Israelites, therefore you shall not bring this assembly into the land that I have given them." These are the waters of Meribah, where the people of Israel quarreled with the Lord, and by which he showed his holiness.
This has always been a very sad portion of scripture for me. It is sad because it is a vivid reminder of all of the times that I have “quarreled” with God and the consequences that ensued.
First of all, I want to point out something very important. This scripture starts by saying that Miriam died in Kadesh. Miriam was the sister of Moses and Aaron; thus, we can imagine that both men were suffering immeasurable sadness and grief.
In the midst of their grief, however, they were not able—or perhaps willing--to attend to their mental health. Instead, the responsibilities of leading their little nation continued to press in on them. There were things to do, people to see, and places to go!
As they went, the people became angry because they could not find water. It is my experience that when things go wrong, even if it is something that cannot be controlled, we often blame the leader. Whether or not the leader can actually “fix” the problem, most people prefer to affix blame to others, rather than admit to feeling out of control themselves.
When the people complained, Moses and Aaron went to God and God gave them a solution. They were to go to a rock and speak to it, commanding it to bring forth water. This action would provide the necessary water, but more importantly it would restore the people’s confidence in the leadership offered by God, Moses, and Aaron.
Well, it seems to me that Moses and Aaron let their emotions get the better of them. They were grief stricken, and on top of that they were sick and tired of being sick and tired, of the moaning and complaining Israelites. Instead of speaking to the rock as God had instructed, Moses raised his staff and beat the rock—twice!
Well, God was gracious and allowed the life-sustaining water to flow, but the consequences of hijacking God’s glory were great! God banned Moses and Aaron from entering into the very Promised Land to which they were leading the people!
This story teaches us some very, very important lessons. First of all, let us attend to our emotions. When we are sad, mad, depressed, anxious, worried, afraid, or experiencing any other emotion that makes us feel bad, it is always best to take time to deal with the emotions. Go to God in prayer, get into The Word, talk to a trusted friend, write in a journal, go for a long walk, breathe deeply, and/or do anything else that is life giving and life affirming. When we are not at our best, we can’t be our best for the others whom we love and serve.
Secondly, we need to be cautious about allowing the feelings of others to dictate our own feelings. When the people began to panic and complain, Moses and Aaron allowed their emotions to go down the same negative path. Be careful, my friends! The path of negative thinking and speaking often leads to destruction.
Instead of allowing others to lead us down that very dangerous path, let us submit all of our emotions to God, trusting that God has a good plan for our lives, not to harm us but to give us a future and a hope (Jeremiah 29:11).
Even when the people around us are suffering a crisis of faith, or a dark night of the soul, we can still maintain a positive and Christian attitude. We can be light in the midst of darkness, joy in the midst of sorrow, and hope in the midst of despair, IF we allow God to lead and guide us in the way that we should go.
Finally, never, ever attempt to hijack God’s glory! God is the only one who is worthy of praise, honor, and glory. God is the only one capable of working miracles, healing bodies, minds, and spirits, and rescuing us from the pit of despair. Let us never, ever take credit for God’s work in our lives--or the lives of others!
When God does something great, let us declare God’s greatness. When we experience God’s glory, let us proclaim it! When God supernaturally saves us, let us magnify GOD’S NAME!
And let me say this! The best thing God has ever done for us is to bring us into relationship with God through Jesus Christ. When God allowed Jesus to die on the cross, God made provision for our sins to be forgiven and for us to become the friends and children of God. This is wonderful GOOD NEWS my friends!
Because of what Jesus did for us on Calvary, we will inherit the Promised Land! Unlike Moses and Aaron in today’s reading, we will not come to the borders of Glory Land and be left behind. Jesus has opened the door and we are invited to come in for eternity!
Now, ain’ta that GOOD NEWS?! (Yes, Lord! Yes, Lord! Yes, yes, Lord, Amen!)
Have you been letting your emotions get the best of you? Will you run to God for help today?
Holy God, all of my feelings have been given to me by you. You perfectly formed my mind and spirit capable of great joy and great sorrow. Help me to be honest about my emotions and to attend to my mental health so that I will not hurt those whom I love and/or serve and so that I will remain in right relationship with you. I want to trade all of my sorrows, for the joy of the Lord! I love you and I want to share that love with others. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
We are celebrating with all of the people who have put all of their hope in Jesus! Happy Re-Birth-Day!
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From Pastor Yolanda’s blog http://aintathatgoodnews.blogspot.com/