When you think of all the things that Moses and Aaron might have done, the sins they might have committed, our reading from Numbers today seems almost silly. “Then Moses lifted up his hand and struck the rock twice with his staff; water came out abundantly, and the congregation and their livestock drank. But the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, ‘Because you did not trust in me, to show my holiness before the eyes of the Israelites, therefore you shall not bring this assembly into the land that I have given them’” (Numbers 20:11-12). This may seem especially severe when this account is set against the backdrop of the grumbling and complaining that the people of Israel have been doing all this time. Moses and Aaron have stood between God and the people on numerous occasions. The Israelites are the ones who have rebelled. Why must Moses and Aaron pay such a steep price for tapping a rock instead of letting God do the honors?
The key lies in the human desire to take control of things while not trusting God to be God. Moses essentially usurped the authority of God and placed himself front and center in the minds of the people. Moses, as a servant of the Lord, should have allowed God to work as God willed. Furthermore, this is no minor situation. Water is the most essential aspect of life, even more important than food. Water is also pivotal in the faith of Israel and later of Christianity. It was out of the waters of chaos that God formed creation, over the waters of the flood that Noah and his family sailed, and through the waters of the Red Sea that the people escaped from Egypt. Whenever water is mentioned in scripture we should pause and reflect on the significance because it is bound to be important. This event is no exception. Moses jumped the gun when he decided to strike the rock and free its water but this was God’s moment and Moses stole the spotlight.
We must let God be God, even if it takes more patience than we think we have, even if it takes greater resolve than we care to display, even if we don’t understand or fully appreciate what is going on. It is the Lord who creates, redeems, and sustains all that is. God can certainly handle whatever it is that lies before us.
Prayer: Lord, give us the patience, the courage, and the confidence to let you carry out your will in our midst, always mindful of your providence and love. In Jesus’ name. Amen.