Numbers 20:1-13

Death of Miriam

20 Then the sons of Israel, the whole congregation, came to the wilderness of Zin in the first month; and the people stayed at Kadesh. Now Miriam died there and was buried there.

There was no water for the congregation, and they assembled themselves against Moses and Aaron. The people thus contended with Moses and spoke, saying, “If only we had perished when our brothers perished before the Lord! Why then have you brought the Lord’s assembly into this wilderness, for us and our beasts to die [a]here? Why have you made us come up from Egypt, to bring us in to this wretched place? It is not a place of [b]grain or figs or vines or pomegranates, nor is there water to drink.” Then Moses and Aaron came in from the presence of the assembly to the doorway of the tent of meeting and fell on their faces. Then the glory of the Lord appeared to them; and the Lord spoke to Moses, saying,

The Water of Meribah

“Take the rod; and you and your brother Aaron assemble the congregation and speak to the rock before their eyes, that it may yield its water. You shall thus bring forth water for them out of the rock and let the congregation and their beasts drink.”

So Moses took the rod from before the Lord, just as He had commanded him;10 and Moses and Aaron gathered the assembly before the rock. And he said to them, “Listen now, you rebels; shall we bring forth water for you out of this rock?”11 Then Moses lifted up his hand and struck the rock twice with his rod; and water came forth abundantly, and the congregation and their beasts drank. 12 But the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, “Because you have not believed Me, to treat Me as holy in the sight of the sons of Israel, therefore you shall not bring this assembly into the land which I have given them.” 13 Those were the waters of [c]Meribah, [d]because the sons of Israel contended with the Lord, and He proved Himself holy among them.

When we get to verse 12, it might take one aback. How did Moses not trust God, didn’t he bring water from the rock like God told him to? Quite simply, Moses was told to speak to the rock. He struck it instead, which was actually a common trick used by shepherds (which Moses had been for many years). They were skilled at figuring out where the water might be held back by a thin rock wall. They could break the thin barrier with a couple hits, and water ahoy!

However, God told Moses to speak to the rock and bring forth water, and he used his shepherd training instead and struck it. Worse yet, he said “Must we bring you water from this rock?” As if he was responsible for providing water to the people instead of God.

Often, we think we know the way to go, but we need to trust what God tells us and follow where he leads.

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