I called this day my “pastoral visitation” day. I took the opportunity to visit some friends and get updates on how they are doing with their health challenges. This included a trip to Denver. I did get by to visit my mom, whom I hadn’t seen for a couple of weeks.
One the way home I set a new record for trying to navigate the challenge of weekend traffic. It took must just under two and a half hours to get back to Fort Collins mostly relying on back roads and frontage roads. I believe I only traveled about ten miles on I-25.
BIBLE VERSE FOR TODAY… But the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, “Because you did not believe me, and because you did not honor me as holy before the people, you will not lead them into the land I will give them.” Numbers 20:12
I have to admit it. I feel sorry for Moses. The grumblers got to him. Moses spent a lot of time with his face on the ground interceding for God not to strike the people dead for their grumbling and lack of trust.
Once again we find the people complaining about not having water. Although in the hot wilderness water is like gold, it is not as though Moses was not aware of the problem and needed the people to call it to his attention and then badger him about it with them once again saying, “we would be better off dead….or we had it so good in Egypt.”
The Lord instructed Moses to “speak to the rock….” But here is what happened. The description of Moses actions are important, “Now listen to me, you [rebels!] Do you want us to bring water out of this rock?” Then Moses lifted his hand and hit the rock twice with his stick. Water began pouring out…” (Numbers 20:10,11)
Moses was angry and I would say rightly so, or at least it is easy to understand his frustration and the pressure he felt. Earlier in the wanderings the Lord provided water when Moses struck a rock; but just “speaking” to a rock? I recall reading some years ago that in the wilderness pools of water would collect in rock formations and an experienced shepherd would know how to find that source and then break the rock open to release the water.
Moses had been a shepherd for 40 years. It was part of his resume that qualified him to lead this unruly group. But when he drew attention away from the Lord and took actions that were based on his knowledge and experience, it lead to the Lord’s judgment.
The Lord’s words to Moses are as insightful as Moses’ words to the people. The Lord said, “Because you did not believe me, and because you did not honor me as holy before the people, you will not lead them into the land I will give them.”
As a result we see that Aaron died on Mount Hor and there his son Eleazar became the priest. Then we see Moses was give the opportunity to view the promised land from Mount Nebo, before he died. It was there he anointed Joshua as his successor.
As I reflect on Moses life, I consider the following…
Moses’ “sin” did not change his character. “Moses was very meek, more than all people who were on the face of the earth.” (Numbers 12:3) I don’t believe it changed God’s view or estimate of his value in God’s eyes.
Moses status is honored at the transfiguration. During Jesus ministry He took, Peter, James and John to the mountain top. “Then Moses and Elijah appeared to them, talking with Jesus.” (Matt. 17:3) Failures are not fatal and disobedience does not determined destiny. I remember someone pointed out, “Moses made it to the promised land after all!”
Moses shows us the greatest leaders have their weaknesses. Human leaders after all are…..human. They have their own challenges and shortcomings and need to have the help of others. In Moses we see Aaron by his side. We read the account of his father-in-law instructing him on how to appoint leaders over groups of people to lighten his burden. Later we see how the Lord selected seventy elders to help Moses in the ministry to God’s people. “…the LORD came down in the cloud and spoke with him, and he took some of the power of the Spirit that was on him and put it on the seventy elders. When the Spirit rested on them, they prophesied…” (Numbers 11:25)
Moses shows us no one is indispensable. Joshua as leader and Eleazar the priest became those who would lead God’s people into the promised land. Throughout history the Lord has continued to raise up leaders and those uniquely and divinely used by Him. I recall years ago a well know evangelist making the claim, “if this ministry fails the cause of world missions will be greatly damaged.” Shortly after that sin brought his ministry to an end and the cause of Christ continued to expand throughout the world.
Moses shows leaders the need to trust and honor the Lord. It is easy to create “super-star” ministers out of those uniquely gifted and fruitful. Those individuals have greater responsibility with their gifts, which include walking humbly before the Lord and continually pointing people to see the greatness of God. It is interesting how John the Baptist, the prophet who would prepare the way for Jesus said, who Jesus commended with these words, “…among those born of women there is no one greater than John…” (Matt. 7:28) said, “he must increase, I must decrease.”
What is true for Moses is true for us all. Whether that is overcoming our own failures and moving forward, whether it is understanding our own limitations and weakness, whether it is understanding how the Lord desires to use us for His purposes and our need to consistently and faithfully trust and honor Him.