I never really thought of it until somewhat recently. I mean, it’s kind of a big deal. One of the Hebrew nation’s first and most revered leaders who is responsible for the first five books of the Bible, being the main human star of the latter four, and who’s main task was to bring the Jews to the Promised Land, doesn’t get to go there himself. It’s really difficult to not understand how big of a deal this is!
I once read an article that talked about Stephen King’s stance on religion. I really enjoyed a number of his books, particularly the Dark Tower series. So, it kinda bothered me. I can’t remember the article, or I would quote it. In essence, Stephen King believed in a God, in the God. However, one of the reasons why he didn’t follow God was because He didn’t allow Moses to enter the Promised Land because he hit a rock. That’s obviously understandable, because in those specific words, it sounds completely unfair.
Once again, I can’t remember the article or quote it, so I might be getting it wrong or the source was unreliable. However, that shouldn’t take away what I’ll be discussing in this post.
What I do want to talk about is the actual story. Yes, Moses hit a rock and that is connected to why he wasn’t allowed in the Promised Land, but there’s so much more than that. Hopefully you’ll know the story; the Jews have been wandering the wilderness for some time with Moses and Aaron leading them by God’s direction. Being in the wilderness where food and water was scarce, even drastically more so for a whole nation, God provided for every need for his people. Which is where this current story comes in.
Numbers 20 is the book and chapter where this incident takes place. The Israelite community is currently found in the Desert of Zin, and this is where Miriam, Moses’s sister, dies and is buried. Verses 2-5 “Now there was no water for the community, and the people gathered in opposition to Moses and Aaron. They quarreled with Moses and said, “If only we had died when our brothers fell dead before the Lord!…”and blah blah blah, we’re hungry, we’re thirsty, and never grateful. Honestly though, the Isreaelites never seemed to shut up in the early parts of the Bible. So of course, Moses and Aaron go to God for His Provision, the same routine they always do. Verses 7-8 “The Lord said to Moses, “Take the staff, and you and your brother Aaron gather the assembly together. Speak to that rock before their eyes and it will pour out its water. You will bring water out of the rock for the community so they and their livestock can drink.”
Pretty basic stuff, not too glamorous of a miracle compared to what God does elsewhere in the Bible, not the least to say in Egypt. But now for Verses 9-12. “So Moses took the staff form the Lord’s presence, just as he commanded him. He and Aaron gathered the assembly together in front of the rock and Moses said to them, “Listen, you rebels, must we bring you water out of this rock?” Then Moses raised his arm and struck the rock twice with his staff. Water gushed out, and the community and their livestock drank. But the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, “Because you did not trust in me enough to honor me as holy in the sight of the Israelites, you will not bring this community into the land I give them.”
…and there’s the action and the consequence. If you read it, there’s hardly an issue about Moses hitting the rock. Would hitting a rock give God any more honor than speaking to it? Well, maybe if God told you to speak to it, but that’s not the main fault here. It’s what Moses says. Verse 10 “Listen, you rebels, must we bring you water out of this rock?” ‘Must we?’ As in, Moses and Aaron are the guys giving the effort to give water to the Israelites? By his words, that’s certainly what it sounds like.
God wasn’t upset with Moses for hitting a rock when He told him to do something else. He was upset that, while He was empowering Moses, He received no credit for His Guidance, His Power, or His Providence. To top it off, Moses was the leader of the Jews. He was their best example of how to behave, of how to hold thoughts of God in reverence, their leader on Earth! When the light is shining this way, one can see why God couldn’t allow Moses into the Promised Land after such disrespect.
Bible verses, just like anything else, can be taken out of context, but a piece of the truth is not the full picture. If a verse sounds off or strange, read over it, and not just the verse, but the chapter, and by extension, the book as well. And this goes for anything. How much value can you put into your knowledge when you don’t fact check it? How strong can your faith be if it is only blind? Train yourself to have an answer to everything, not just for your faith, but for every belief and decision you have and make.