We’ve got your daily encouragement, written by Nate Hemphill.
Deuteronomy 33:25-2925 Your bars shall be iron and bronze, and as your days, so shall your strength be. 26 “There is none like God, O Jeshurun, who rides through the heavens to your help, through the skies in his majesty. 27 The eternal God is your dwelling place, and underneath are the everlasting arms. And he thrust out the enemy before you and said, ‘Destroy.’ 28 So Israel lived in safety, Jacob lived alone, in a land of grain and wine, whose heavens drop down dew. 29 Happy are you, O Israel! Who is like you, a people saved by the Lord, the shield of your help, and the sword of your triumph! Your enemies shall come fawning to you, and you shall tread upon their backs.”
An Old Testament story that always bothered me was when God refused to allow Moses to lead the Israelite people across the Jordan and into the Promised Land. If you aren’t familiar with the story, here are the Cliff Notes. Moses – the same guy who commanded the Pharaoh to “Let my people go,” was prohibited by God from leading his tribe into the Promised Land all because he was disobedient on one occasion!
What terrible offense did Moses make to warrant such a drastic punishment? He literally struck a rock with his staff. I know what you are thinking – but didn’t God tell him to strike the rock to bring water to the thirsty Israelites in the desert? Yes he did – in Exodus 17. In that instance Moses was instructed to do exactly that. But later on in the journey, now in Numbers 20 again the Israelites found themselves in another dire situation in need of water.
This time God instructed Moses to “speak to the rock” to bring forth water. Perhaps Moses began to grow arrogant in his thinking because after receiving his instruction from God he said, “Listen now, you rebels; shall we (Moses and Aaron) bring forth water for you out of this rock?” Then, rather than following the clear instruction that God gave him, Moses struck the rock with his staff, not once but twice.
Ultimately, God again gave the people the water that they needed, but Moses had disobeyed – he attempted in his own power to recreate a miracle when God had something different planned. This severe punishment seems like such a difficult pill to swallow. It makes us question the very nature of God? After all, if Moses fell short, what hope is there for us?
Let’s now pause to consider a couple of things; God continued to allow Moses to lead the people and groom his successor Joshua. God continued to deal tenderly with Moses and the Israelites – even allowing Moses at the end of his life to set eyes on the Promised Land before burying his body…yes you read that right – God himself buried Moses’ body. So yes – we do serve a forgiving and tender God.
Then what can we take away from this story? First, when God gives clear instruction, obedience is not to be taken lightly. And just because God did something miraculous in your life doesn’t mean that he’ll use that same method in the future for you or someone else.
Finally, just as God instructed Moses to strike the rock once, God also allowed his son Jesus to be struck just once for all mankind, for all time. Let us not minimize Christ’s sacrifice for us by willingly living in sin knowing that we are forgiven.
Lord God I know that I’ve been disobedient in certain areas of my life. I too have “stuck the rock” expecting you to do what you’ve done in the past – even acting as if it was me who made the miracle. Forgive me Lord. Change my heart to be obedient to your instruction. In Jesus’ name, Amen!
Think about situations in your life when God moved and made a way for you. It is good to remember what God instructed you to do, but don’t expect that he’ll do things the same way next time around. Our God is too big to be boxed into an equation. Odds are, he’ll require a different showing of faith to move the next mountain.
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