Moses, a rock, and God’s mercy

I had another epiphany the other day when I was doing my bible study. I’ve often wondered why in the world God was so seemingly harsh to Moses, just because he sort of lost his temper (Numbers 20). It was completely understandable for Moses to lose it. He was provoked by all the complaining people surrounding him. Repeatedly. And yet, God did not show Moses mercy, but judgment for his sin. He would not be allowed to go into the Promised Land. Why?? Moses was not just a good man, but a great one. He consistently defended this rabble of ungrateful people who, for whatever reason, the LORD chose as His people. It was just ONE mistake.

Well, actually…

But after thinking about it for a while, I realized a few things. First, the LORD was actually quite merciful. Think about the fact that just a couple of chapters before Moses chose to flip out, there was a man who was put to death for gathering wood on the Sabbath (Numbers 15:32 – 36). We are not told why he was gathering wood. Perhaps his family needed the wood to keep warm. Maybe he forgot to do it the day before. But you know what’s crazy? It didn’t matter. The people were told by Moses what the LORD commanded for His people, and one of those things was no work on a Sunday. So you know what no work means? No work. Not even gathering wood.

Personally, I’m tempted to think that was way, way too harsh. And then I ironically remember one of my favorite sayings: God is good all the time, and all the time, God is good. Really? Even at that moment so many thousands of years ago? Well, I’d like to argue that when we step back, He was and is and always will be good.

Same, same, but different

Since we are not under the law in the same way that the Israelites were at that time, it’s hard for us to wrap our minds around these slayings that seem so harsh. However, we need to keep in mind that the Israelites were not living in isolation. There were many different people groups surrounding them, and all eyes were watching them. Were they truly different? Why were they different? What made them special? Or better said, WHO made them special?

The Israelites at that time were setting an example of how all people were to live their lives in light of the Holy God Who created them. When that man who was gathering wood decided to bypass God’s stated law and go ahead and do things his own way, he was flagrantly defying the LORD. What God had said must not have mattered all that much to him. And I would argue that’s the reason why that kind of defiance needed to be squelched, especially at that time in history.

Extending this idea to Moses, he too was setting an example. I am reminded of another saying, “Just because you can doesn’t mean you should.” I can not imagine having to deal with people whining and complaining around me all the time, even after they’ve been provided for over and over and over again. Although I DO have a pretty good idea of what that would be like since the LORD has blessed our family with 9 children, imagine that around a million times over. LORD help me!

Controlling my response

I am constantly amazed at how quickly my children forget how we always try to meet their every need and many, many of their desires. Yet they complain and whine and drive me absolutely bonkers with all of their plethora, and often times, irrational, set of demands. So here’s my epiphany – I’m no different than Moses when I let the situation control my response in an ungodly way. Neither Moses or I merit mercy, but only because of God’s amazing grace, we are given it.

Moses wasn’t killed right there on the spot even though he disobeyed what the LORD told him specifically to do. He wasn’t extended a harsh sentence, rather a merciful one. Oh that I would remember Moses more often.

Sanctifiers all around

We must remember that we may be the only Believer others will meet. When we respond with frustration, annoyance, and anger in a tense and frustrating situation, we are called to react with self control and restraint. For some of us, those situations happen outside our homes with friends and co-workers. For others, it happens in our homes. But for most, it’s both.

I am at home with my children, so I have found that the LORD finds ways to help me practice several times a day that act of self control in the midst of “oh my word, seriously, AGAIN?” situations. My little sanctifiers are shaping me to look more like Jesus all the time.

The LORD, in His great mercy, provides us all opportunities to show Christ to others. My word, it’s so hard sometimes. But I pray we all keep in mind that God takes our obedience extremely seriously. Every word and every reaction we have is being watched, not just by those around us but by our Holy God (Matt 12:36). And that’s not just for His glory, but for our own benefit and good.

Father God, strengthen us. Amen?

©2024 Mud Hen Mama


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