SUNDAY, JULY 21, 2013.
FOLLOWING GOD’S INSTRUCTION WITH CARE
‘You and Aaron must take the staff from the place where it was kept before the Lord… So, the entire community and their livestock drank their fill,’ Num. 20v8-11.
THE Lord had told Moses to speak to the rock; however Moses struck it not once, but twice. He was frustrated. He was angry. He was tired of being blamed for everything that went wrong. Year after year, he had taken them through different disaster. He was continually interceding on their behalf; but all he got for his efforts were grief. And in exasperation, he said: ‘Listen you rebels! He shouted. Must we bring you water from this rock?’
For this he was forbidden to enter the Promised Land. Was God’s punishment of Moses too harsh? After all, the people had nagged him, slandered him and rebelled against both him and God.
But Moses was the leader and model for the entire nation. Because of this great responsibility, he could not be let off lightly. By striking the rock, Moses disobeyed God’s direct command; he dishonoured Him in the presence of His people. He did not follow carefully the instructions of God and this angered the Lord. How come that Moses called God’s people ‘rebels?’ Look at his claims also, which did not honour God: ‘Must we bring you water from this rock?’
It is true; 40 years earlier, the previous generation had the same complaint, no water. God told Moses to strike a rock with his staff, Exod. 17v6. When he obeyed, water gushed out. When the grumbling started again, so many years later, Moses did the thing that worked before, but this time, it was the wrong thing to do. Moses told the Israelites to listen, but he, himself, did not do that to God. God had told him to speak to the rock, not strike it. Sometimes in exhaustion or exasperation, we don’t pay close attention to God. We assume He will always work the same way. But He doesn’t. Sometimes He tells us to act; sometimes, He tells us to speak; and sometimes He tells us to wait. That is why we must always be careful when listening to God for instructions.
God is jealous and cannot share His glory with anyone. I think this is where believers, today, need to be very careful in dealing with this all-knowing God. He told us in His holy writ:‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, says Jehovah. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts,’Isaiah 55v8-9.
Therefore, any group or person that decides to go contrary to the instructions of God is simply courting the wrath of the most high. Yes, Moses had not followed carefully the instructions of God and his punishment was that he will not enter the Promised Land. We also remember that Saul disobeyed God and its attendant effect was that he lost his kingship. People of God, we need to be careful with God’s instructions. Do it as He says, whether convenient or not, He knows better.VEN. ERNEST ONUOHA Rector, Ibru International Ecumenical Centre, Agbarha-Otor, Delta State.