One act of disobedience cost Moses his chance to set foot in the promised land he had waited for so long to find. Unbelievable. The story of Moses' error at Kadesh always makes me cry out "That is so unfair!". In case someone out there doesn't know the story, I'll give you my readers' digest version.
Moses & his often rebellious thousands of followers were in the wilderness at this time probably about the end of their 40th year of wandering around. Once again, the people cried out - oh, I feel Moses' pain just thinking about it! -complaining that they had no water. Aggh.
Now there was no water for the congregation, so they gathered together against Moses and Aaron. And the people contended with Moses and spoke, saying: "If only we had died when our brethren died before the Lord! Why have you brought up the assembly of the Lord into this wilderness, that we and our animals should die here? And why have you made us come up out of Egypt, to bring us to this evil place? It is not a place of grain or figs or vines or pomegranates; nor is there any water to drink." (Numbers 20:2-5 NKJV)
How many times must these people complain? How quickly they forgot that they were SLAVES in Egypt. They weren't having a good time in captivity. How quickly they forgot that God had been feeding them manna and providing them water all of these years of wandering when they really should have died from starvation. This makes me think of the complaining I've done in my own life about certain situations and how quickly I forget that God has brought me through a wilderness to a better place.
Poor Moses. This was finally the breaking point for him. Immediately after hearing the complaints, like a good boy, he did go directly to God in prayer. (20:6). And once again, God came through. God told Moses to speak to a rock before the congregation and the rock would bring forth water before their very eyes, once again proving that God was God. Moses gathered the congregation together before the rock as he was told...and then it happened. Moses got mad, hit the rock, and sealed his fate to die in the wilderness, never to enter the promised land. (Nu 20:10-11)
I suppose that Moses should be glad that God caused water to come out of the rock in spite of his disobedience. Apparently God was pretty upset with Moses. This whole situation conjures up a lot of thoughts for me.
1) Leaders are held to a higher standard in God's eyes because people follow them.
2) God takes respect seriously. The most serious infraction was not his anger, but the fact that he disobeyed God in front of the people.
3) A lifetime of a good testimony can be damaged in seconds. For forty years Moses was obedient to God, doing exactly as God told him to do. In one fit of rage, Moses let his emotions control his mind and he lost the game, big time.
4) The actions of subordinates have a profound impact on leaders. As followers, we really do have a lot of power. Our attitudes and actions can provoke stress on our leaders. We need to remember that most of them are doing the best that they can.
There are lots of things to think about from this passage, aren't there? We are all followers of God and probably all are submitting to someone else's authority in our ministries, homes or jobs. We are all leaders in one way or another too and people are watching us. Lord, help us to keep our thoughts and actions captive to what you would have us to think or do. Show us how to obey You completely, in spite of ourselves or the actions of others, so that we can be glorifying to Your name. Amen.