March 16 – Today’s Readings – Numbers 19-21 and Psalms 76
Today we read about the now familiar problem of “no water in the desert”. The script goes as before – there was no water – the people grumbled – Moses went to God about the problem and God made provision for the people.
There is only one major difference this time. Moses became offended by the people’s attitudes, got angry with the people, called them a bunch of rebels, and struck “The Rock” twice instead of speaking to it. Why did He strike The Rock? Perhaps it was because God had previously commanded that He strike it, or perhaps in his raging he simply lost control of himself. The way it happened is probably not as important as what happened afterward – God told Moses – “Because you did not trust in me enough to honour me as holy in the sight of the Israelites”- that he would be disqualified as the one who would lead the people into the promised land.
Let’s make sure we understand this – God made a big deal about how Moses conducted himself in front of the people. Even though Moses was performing miracles, the “manner” in which he did things did not honour God. So, if I understand this correctly – I can be doing the right thing but in the wrong way or with the wrong attitude and it will get me in trouble with God!
YES. We can pray or worship, or read the bible, or serve, or give, or prophesy or do miracles but if we are not representing God properly, we are in trouble!
In the first three verses of 1 Corinthians 13 we read “If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.” The “love attitude” comes from surrender to the Spirit of Almighty God. Our dysfunctional attitudes and actions can never be a substitute for God’s love.
Compare this account to the one found a page later in Numbers 21:16-18 where the leaders of ancient Israel were faced with the same “no water” problem. “The LORD said to Moses, ‘Gather the people together and I will give them water.’ Then Israel sang this song: ‘Spring up, O well! Sing about it, about the well that the princes dug, that the nobles of the people sank – the nobles with scepters and staffs.” In this account God is honoured and we find nothing but God’s blessing on the people. Whoever said, “attitude is everything” was right on track – our good works, without Godly attitudes profit nothing.
1. What do you suppose those elders were doing, out in the sand, digging around with their shepherd’s sticks?
2. Moses “lost his cool”, disobeyed, and lost the Promised Land. What are the issues in our lives that could cause us to lose our “promised land”?