LESSON 11 15/11/2015
MOSES SIN AND GOD’S VERDICT
Suggested Hymns: G.H.B. 270, 271
Devotional Reading: Num. 20:9-11
Topic For Adults: Never Remove God From The Equation
Topic For Youths: Be A Good Follower
Topic For Intermediates: Don’t Be Provoked To Sin Against God
Scripture Lesson: Num. 20: 1-13
Memory Verse: Then Moses lifted his hand and struck the rock twice with his rod, and water came out abundantly, and the congregation and their animals drank (Num. 20:11) NKJV
DAILY DEVOTIONAL READING
God Is No Respecter Of Persons
God is a righteous judge. He will not condemn the innocent and justify the unrighteous. As a human being, one may tend to think that God’s verdict on Moses was too hard, considering all that Moses had endured, his faithfulness in the past, his compassion, his intercession for the people, etc. But God’s ways are not our ways, and His thoughts are not our thoughts (Isa. 55:8). One thing is that God does not have respect of persons, He shows no partiality (Acts 10:34). He is God of principles and standards. He commanded the Judges in Israel not to have respect of person in judgment (Lev. 19:15). That He gave out such punishment to Moses should not be our focus, but our concern should be how we will not fall into the same error so that worse things will not befall us.
Point of Emphasis: God is a righteous Judge. He is also merciful.
Prayer Point: Lord, help me not to fall out of favour with You. Help me to please You all the days of my life.
God called the Israelites a stiff-necked people and indeed the people were nothing different from that epithet. In spite of various miracles and supernatural provisions in the wilderness, yet they did not put their trust in God. They habitually complained and murmured in the face of any problem. Alas, they eventually provoked Moses to sin against the Lord which caused him to miss the Promised Land. This is what this week’s lesson is all about.
NOTES ON THE TEXT
PART 1: CONTENTION BETWEEN THE ISRAELITES AND MOSES (NUM. 20:1-5)
Leadership is a heavy responsibility. A leader is usually the first to answer if anything goes wrong with the followers. The people of Israel were typical of immature believers, who would always want to be spoon-fed and cannot take initiative on their own. They are always crying, wailing, complaining and murmuring at the face of any little challenge. They take offence when the leaders or the Church do not intervene in their matter on time and thereby many resort to not coming to Church again.
At the wilderness of Zion in Kadesh, there was no water (v.2). It must be recalled that this was not the first time the people lacked water in the wilderness and God intervened (cf Exo. 15:22-27; 17:1-7). Instead of the people to believe that God who did it for their fathers in the past would do it for them, they chose to complain against Moses. Though these people were the later generation of Israelites that were preserved in the wilderness, they too spoke against Moses like their fathers. “If only we had died when our brethren died before the Lord! Why have you brought up the assembly of the Lord into this wilderness, that we and our animals should die here? (vv. 3-4). They were putting frustrating questions unto Moses that indeed showed that the people were stiff-necked.
The people complained bitterly to Moses and Aaron and asked them why they had brought them into this evil place (v. 5). Indeed there was a genuine need, but the people could not present their case rightly before Moses. As it has been said that leaders were human beings, it is not out of place to conclude that Moses was provoked with the action of the people.
PART 2: GOD’S INSTRUCTION TO MOSES (NUM. 20:6-8)
Moses, up till that time had been maintaining the culture and principle of seeking God’s face on every matter. He was not wise in his own eyes. He acknowledged the sovereignty and supremacy of God. He understood that he could not do anything on his own. He, and Aaron, fell on their faces before the Lord waiting on Him for the next step to take (v.6)
God did not disappoint them, as He showed up with His glory and spoke to Moses as usual. He gave Moses some specific instructions on what to do (i) take the rod (ii) you and your brother Aaron gather the congregation together (iii) speak to the rock before their eyes, and it will yield its water; by this you shall bring water for them out of the rock, and give drink to the congregation and their animals. To succeed in life and ministry, listening to God’s instructions and direction as to what to do, how to do it, when and where to do it, are very vital.
PART 3: MOSES’ DISOBEDIENCE (NUM. 20:9-11)
It is not enough to have God’s instruction, it is equally important to implement the instruction to the letter. God gives attention to details and whoever He has called into the ministry must give attention to details also. It is often said that half obedience is total disobedience. This was the case with Moses.
In the second division, we saw that God gave three specific instructions to Moses out of which he carried out two correctly and missed the other one, and added his own feeling to it. Thus, (i) Moses took the rod as instructed (v. 9); (ii) He and Aaron gather the assembly together before the rock and called the people rebels and asked, “must we bring water for you out of the rock? (v. 10), presenting Aaron and himself as the one performing the miracle. This is taking the glory due to God for themselves (iii) Moses lifted his hand and struck the rock twice with his rod instead of speaking to the rock and in the final analysis, water came out abundantly, and the congregation and their animals drank (v. 11).
Moses missed out just one step and even carried it out in a wrong manner. Instead of speaking to the rock, he struck it twice and again spoke to the people in a fury and this brought great repercussion to his life and ministry. As God is using us to accomplish His work, we must not take Him for granted. We must do things the way He wants us to do it and not in our own way.
PART 4: GOD’S VERDICT (NUM. 20:12-13)
We interpret Moses’ error as disobedience, but God saw it as the sin of unbelief. What God was saying in essence is that Moses did not believe Him enough to have followed His instruction to the letter, thereby he did not hallow God in the eyes of the Israelites. The action of Moses in smiting the rock twice portrayed a doubt, not of the power, but of the will of God to gratify such a rebellious people. It is likely that Moses did what he did because he had stereotyped God that He had the same way of solving the same problem. In Exodus 17, when there was no water, he was instructed to smite the rock which he did and water came out. This time he thought that striking it twice would produce much more water that eventually happened. But God was not impressed.
God, therefore, gave the verdict that Moses would not bring the assembly into the land of Canaan (v. 12). To us this may be a harsh judgment, but that is to tell us that we need to be careful in our relationship with God. We must not allow our familiarity with God to lead to treating Him or His instructions with contempt.
Moses, the great man of God that Pharaoh feared, was moved against God by the unwholesome attitude of the people he was leading. Ministers and children of God must be careful not to allow anybody cause them to sin against God, because they will not be there to bear the consequence with us.
- How would you describe the attitude of the Israelites on their request for water?
- Where did this event happen?
- Itemise God’s instructions to Moses.
- What was Moses’ error or sin in the lesson?
- Comment on God’s verdict on Moses, is it right or not?