Message: In Numbers 20 the Miriam had just died and the
Israelites were settling in Kadesh. This is the same place they had been when
Moses had sent the scouts to check out the promised land. All but two had complained
that even though the land was fertile and produced an abundance of things, the
people there were giant and they didn’t believe they could take it. They
complained and asked Moses why he brought them to the wilderness and wished they
were back in Egypt. They even wanted to appoint a leader to take them back. Since they refused to take the promised land God
led them all the way back to the Red Sea where they started, and then once
again they were back in Kadesh. Once again they were also complaining, asking
Moses why he brought them there to die, wishing they were back in Egypt and this
time they blamed him because they were not in the land of promise. They
complained once again that there was no water and once again Moses and Aaron
got on their faces before God. God gave them very specific instructions to
speak to the rock and provide water but
Moses in his frustration called them rebels and said “must we bring water out of
this rock for you?” and then struck the rock twice. I found it interesting that
the instructions were given to both Moses and Aaron so they were both accountable
even though Moses was the one who acted. Aaron was accountable too and because
he didn’t intervene they were both punished. God said that they didn’t trust
him to show his holiness to the people. They didn’t convey the heart of God
when they stepped into that position of God’s power and authority. They conveyed
their own frustration instead of God’s heart and stepped into a place they didn’t
belong because they did it while operating under the power and authority of
God. We can easily understand why Moses was frustrated. They had
complained and accused him over and over and over for years. God wasn’t angry
when Moses voiced that frustration to him, but he carried that frustration
outside of that sacred place and he carried it into a place where he was
trusted to represent God. His actions were the same as speaking falsely on God’s
behalf. Not only did he misrepresent God in his words, he also took the solution
God gave him and he altered the plan to his own version.
Command: Take our frustrations to God, but listen
for his plan of action and then obey it. Don’t hang onto the frustration and
don’t alter the plan.
Promise: God will demonstrate his power and his grace
if we follow the plan he gives us. We will also be relieved of the frustration even
if the situation doesn’t change right away.
Warning: Our flesh wants to hang onto that frustration and we also
have the tendency to believe that because we vented our frustration to God that
his validation means he is on our side and against someone else. We also have a
tendency to take part of what God tells us to do, and alter the plan into our
own. This is not obedience.
Application: I see myself in so many parts of this story. I
have complained and complained about some of the same things in my life and
failed to access promises because I wasn’t willing to trust God in the process.
I have even continued to complain and indirectly blame God for my lack of progress.
I have also been frustrated with other people and complained to God about them,
and I have also stood by while someone else misrepresented God. What I got out
of this is that it’s ok to be frustrated but that frustration needs to stay
between us and God. God will give us a solution to our complaints but if we
ignore the plan and go off and vent our anger instead, we are in the wrong. I’m
not talking about the times we pray about a frustration with someone and then
have an honest and maybe even a bold confrontation with intent and purpose to
solve something. I’m talking about when we hang onto our frustrations and
mistreat someone instead. Whether we do it in an angry and dishonoring way,
make sarcastic remarks or act with passive-aggressive behavior. We might be
justified in our frustration but we are not justified in that kind of response.
We are also wrong when we come to God for a solution, and after he gives us the
plan we either ignore it or go and alter it into our own version and try to
call that obedience. This chapter convicted me! I have done all of these things
and I’m still stumbling through it!