Obeying in the Details
Have you ever desired to peak around the corner, kinda like in Wizard of Oz when the bold booming voice says “Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.” Well of COURSE, I want to look! That is how I am with scripture, I can’t just read. There is so much pausing, pondering and defining to be done. So much adventure! And yes, so many lessons to learn. (Hang with me, this is good)
Recently looking at Numbers 20, (v. 1-13) I sat myself down in a field (literally) knowing there was more to this story and asked the Lord to show me around the corner, peak behind the curtain. This is what I saw, this is what I learned. I had the honor of teaching this to the women at church this week. The story (in short) consists of Moses and his wooden staff, Aaron, some grumbling people and a rock. Oh, and some gushing water. The Israelites are wandering in the wilderness; they come to Kadesh … no water. With the lack of water they rebelled. Moses and Aaron go to God with this whine filled, yet genuine dilemma. God tells them to gather the people, take the staff and speak to the rock and water will flow. Moses gathered the people, took the staff and spoke to the people (not the rock). He tells them “Listen, you rebels! Must we bring you water from this rock?” THEN (wait for it…) he raises the staff and strikes the rock twice. And you got it, God showed up and water flowed. Um, a considerable amount of deviation from the instructions dear Sir! God then tells Moses and Aaron, due to your lack of trust in Me, and not demonstrating My holiness to the people, you don’t get to go into the Promised Land.
After reading this and seeing the scenario creatively played out in my mind, I am reminded of instances that are quite similar to Moses’ past and I’m confident familiar to Moses.
Exodus 7: The show down with Pharaoh. God charges Moses with telling Pharaoh to “Let My people go…” Pharaoh doesn’t get it, his heart is unyielding, so God tells Moses to go to the Nile, give it one more try, if a no go, then with the gathering of people, take the staff, strike the water, God shows up and the water turns to blood.
Exodus 17: Moses is now in the wilderness with the folks, camped at Rephidim. This place had no water as well. The people complained, God tells Moses to gather the people, take the staff, strike the rock and God shows up – water will gush out. And so it happened.
Exodus 17 (just a few verses later) Just slightly different, but most elements are the same. The Israelites are fighting the Amalekites, there sitting between Aaron & Hur on a hill and a gathering of people, as Moses keeps the staff raised, God shows up and they win the battle.
In Numbers 20, new instructions are given, yet Moses’ response is too familiar. Here are 4 lessons we can learn:
First, we are not to veer from the current instructions. Does it matter HOW I do it if I’ve been here before? The answer is YES! God has something new for YOU and those around you. Our obedience does impact others, as well as our disobedience. These ‘rebels’ were the 2nd generation, they had heard of the first striking the rock and gushing of water. How much more would God’s power & authority have meant if Moses obediently SPOKE to the rock! Would that observance have caused future POSITIVE responses? Notice too, God told Moses, “Speak to the rock.” He didn’t tell him WHAT to say. There was room for creativity, he just needed to speak and God would do the rest. God said speak – not swing.
Next, God still proves powerful despite our disobedience. God would deal with Moses, but the people needed water. This teaches us God’s love for His people is so great; despite sinful attitude and action, God still provided abundantly. His instructions are PERFECT, yet He will use imperfect instruments (us). We may mess it up, but He still trusts us with His word. Amazing! Disobedience DOES have consequences. God said: “Because you did not trust Me enough to demonstrate My holiness to the people of Israel, you will not lead them into the land I am giving them!” God reprimanded not only for disobeying but also for not believing. The staff represented authority and yes, you used it before, just because it is in your hand, doesn’t mean you have to use it this time. Listen carefully.
Thirdly, God will not share His glory with another. “Must WE bring water for you out of this rock?” (Can you hear the heavy sigh and the quiet ‘AGAIN!’) Moses spoke as if he and God would do the job. Or even He and Aaron. It was ALL God. It is always ALL God. God uses us, we walk in authority, but it is His miraculous power. Isaiah 42:8 “I am the LORD, that is My name! I will not give My glory to another. ” God told Moses He wanted to demonstrate His holiness to the people, taking this generation to a whole new level perhaps? We will never know.
And finally, we default to what is familiar in times of frustration. Often our reach is quick, and we grasp for what we already have or already know. May we condition ourselves that when we do reach, GOD is grasped FIRST! May HE be so familiar that in times of frustration, anger or pain, our ‘quick’ is …Him.
Is God giving us new instructions, are we listening carefully, or are already thinking, “Got this, done this!” We are prepared to use what we did before (already gathered in our hands) but perhaps not this time … just believe Him. May we consider how our obedience (or lack of) will affect others. What does God want to show you and them in this moment? How is our obeying in the details?
Moses. A mighty man of God full of lessons.
In Him, DeDe (“Let us consider how we may spur one another toward love & good deeds.” Hebrews 10:24)