Discover more from Pilgrim's Bread
May 11: Numbers 20
Numbers 20; Psalms 58-59; Isaiah 9:8-10:4; James 3
Have you ever wondered why God was so severe with Moses in Numbers 20:12? After all, Moses’ exasperation with the people is understandable. Here they are complaining . . . again. We’ve been here before - Exodus 17:6. But now they’ve worn Moses down.
Thus for just a moment, the most humble man who’s ever lived (Numbers 12:3) puts himself at the right-hand of God - “. . . shall WE bring water for you out of this rock?” (10). Then in his exasperation, he strikes the rock twice, against God’s explicit order to only speak to the Rock.
For this momentary sin, against the grain of the rest of his life, God says, Moses will not be allowed to enter the Promised Land (12). Again, why the severe consequence?
Certainly it is because God holds those who stand for him in the highest places to the highest accounting (James 3:1). But there must be more to it. Certainly also God knows that Moses is but dust (Psalm 103:14).
We get a hint from the fact that God still caused water to flow from the Rock, despite Moses’ sin. Grace.
It would take a long, long time, but Paul will eventually reveal to us in 1 Corinthians 10:1-4 that “the Rock was Christ” (4). Thus it seems that there was more going on in Numbers 20 than what God revealed at the time. Which should not surprise us - fathers do not always tell their children all the importance and connections in their mind behind why they give a child a command. They simply command and expect obedience. The Parent’s ways are not the child’s ways.
Thus it seems that when God decided to have water flow from a rock, He already had in His mind another rock that would one day come. And upon that rock blood and water would flow, from His own Son being struck. But he would only be stuck once for all, not despite our sins, but for all our sins. The Rock will be struck only once, for all (Heb. 10:10).
God could have delivered water to His people any infinite number of ways. He could have had VW Beetles fly from heaven and drop plastic bottles of Evian spring water. But it seems He had His Son and His precious sacrifice in mind. That’s why this moment is so precious to Him, and why Moses finds himself, in his momentary lapse of pride, standing in the really wrong place. Only one Son occupies the right-hand of God. And that Rock will be struck only by the Father, and only once, and no more.
Thus the severe consequence.
Yet the waters of grace would still flow for Moses. For the Promised Land that Moses lost out on would be lost by the people because their sin. Thus it surely pointed to a greater Promised Land. Then a long time later, Moses would be allowed to see that true Promised Land, face to face, at Jesus’ Mount of Transfiguration (Luke 9:30-31). There Moses got to ask the Son about his greater Exodus that he was about to embark on, in his resurrection.
Whatever Moses’ sin, God’s grace was greater. God chases His own chastisements with grace upon grace. That’s why they call it amazing grace.
All of this makes me happy about God, in a child-like way, which was the point all along for Moses. How ‘bout you?