"What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!'"
July 24, 2013
Moses is considered a great hero of the Bible. God used him mightily and he accomplished great feats, but he didn't reach his full potential nor did he see the fulfillment of God's plan for him, due to disobedience.
In Numbers 20:7-12 we read the account of the disobedient act that caused Moses to not be able to lead the Israelites into the Promised Land of Canaan.
"The Lord said to Moses, 'You and Aaron must take the staff and assemble the entire community. As the people watch, speak to the rock over there, and it will pour out its water. You will provide enough water from the rock to satisfy the whole community and their livestock.'"
Moses started out doing what the Lord had instructed. He took the staff from the place where it was kept before the Lord. He and Aaron summoned the people to come and gather at the rock. But he then allowed his flesh to dictate his actions. "Listen, you rebels!" he shouted. "Must we bring you water from this rock?" Then Moses raised his hand and struck the rock twice with the staff, and water gushed out. The entire community and their livestock drank their fill.
But the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, "Because you did not trust me enough to demonstrate My holiness to the people of Israel, you will not lead them into the land I am giving them!"
It's easy to read this entire story and feel sorry for Moses, and perhaps think that God was being a bit overly harsh. Miriam, who was Moses and Aaron's sister, had just died and been buried. There was no water for the people to drink at that place, so they rebelled against Moses and Aaron. The people blamed Moses and said, "If only we had died in the Lord's presence with our brothers! Why have you brought the congregation of the Lord's people into this wilderness to die, along with all our livestock? Why did you make us leave Egypt and bring us here to this terrible place? This land has no grain, no figs, no grapes, no pomegranates, and no water to drink!"
Moses and Aaron were grieving for their sister, then the entire congregation started blaming them for all the hardships they were enduring. I'm sure the people were tired, hungry, thirsty, and fearful about how they were going to survive, as well as worried about losing all their livestock. Likely, many of them had also known Miriam and may have been feeling the loss that her death had caused. And when you are stressed, tired, and grieving you generally will lash out at someone; whether it be another family member, pastor, friend or whoever happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time whenever you reached the end of your rope and needed to unleash your emotions. In this instance, Moses and Aaron were the ones who were on the receiving end.
But Moses made the mistake of sounding as if he and his brother were personally responsible for performing the miracle of bringing water from the rock. "Must we bring you water from this rock?" Perhaps at that moment he was feeling as if they were the ones who always had to bear the load of responsibility for the people. He may have felt as if they were always the ones who had to have faith and trust God and obey.
Moses may have been focusing on what all "he" had done in the past in order for God to protect and provide for the children of Israel. "I had to go to Pharaoh time and time again to even get all of us out of Egypt." "I had to hold the rod out over the Red Sea all night while the Lord parted the waters so we could cross safely and flee the Egyptians." "I had to hold my hands up during the battle between Israel and Amalek; and when my arms grew heavy and I let them fall down, then Amalek prevailed; but when my hands were held high, then Israel prevailed." "I was the one who God spoke the ten commandments to; as well as all the laws for the people to follow."
When we begin to focus on ourselves instead of God, that's when self-pity and disobedience occurs. We will react out of our feelings and emotions, rather than follow through on what the Word of God says. We will say unpleasant, hurtful words to others. We will think that someone must surely be thinking a particular thing about us, and will get upset, not even knowing whether or not that is true. And we will feel as if we're always the one who has to carry the burden of responsibility, without anyone sharing the load.
That's also when we will often feel as if we're the one whom God always requires the more difficult tasks from. It's easy to compare our situation to that of someone else and feel as if we're the one who always has to carry the heavier load, or have the most responsibility, or endure more hardships and trials. It may seem as if everyone else is just along for the ride and being blessed, while we have to plow ahead and forge the way for them.
Prior to this, both Moses and Aaron had turned away from the people and went to the entrance of the Tabernacle, where they fell face down on the ground. While there, the glorious presence of the Lord appeared to them and the Lord gave Moses specific instructions on exactly what he needed to do; then in response, the Lord would respond by miraculously providing the needed water.
You would have thought after just having a glorious encounter with God, that Moses would have felt rejuvenated and spiritually refreshed and would have willingly obeyed the Lord's instructions. But when he got up off the ground and turned around and faced the people, he must have remember their words and accusations, and anger filled his heart; he then sinned by reacting out of that anger and not completely obeying the instructions given to him by God.
We can often do the same today. We can leave a church service where we heard an encouraging word from the minister or a particular song touched our heart or we felt the presence of God during a time of prayer, and on the way out of the building someone will look at us wrong or say something that hurts our feelings or we will overhear something and assume someone is talking about us or someone cuts in front of our car on the drive home, and we will get upset. In a split second we can change from feeling blessed and joyous to feeling hurt and anger. This will generally cause a reaction of some kind within us, and we will either say something judgmental and unkind or will think ungodly thoughts.
In spite of the disobedience of Moses in this instance, God didn't punish the people for Moses striking the rock instead of speaking to it. God sent a flood of water from a rock! It was enough to satisfy the need and thirst of all the people and livestock. What a miracle!!
We may fail and sin and mess up, but God can still work in spite of us. He is much bigger than our mistakes and failures and disobedient acts, and can cause good to happen regardless of us getting in His way.
I wonder if part of Moses's frustration was that only a few Israelites showed up.
I feel bad for ministers who have special services, expecting all the church members to come and to bring guests. They expect the church to be filled, but too often there are only a few people who come. That is, unless there is food served.
I admit it: we're one of those couples who show up almost any time the church has food, but don't attend many special services. I'm glad our church has special services, especially the neighborhood breakfast (they serve breakfast to anyone who wants to stop by).
Moses probably imagined having everyone show up, eager to see God work. But after trekking to the rock God had sent Moses to, he might have turned around to see that only 20 or 30 people were still behind him. He might have been shouting to the rest of the Israelites down the hill.
We all get expectations, especially when God is leading us somewhere. Of course we want to follow. And we expect everyone else to be just as eager. If they aren't as eager, it's all too easy to lose our own eagerness.
Peach Glazed Meat
1 cup peach jam
1-2 Tbsp. Worcestershire Sauce
Mix the jam and worcestershire sauce together; brush over both sides of meat. Grill or bake in oven. Halfway through cooking, brush more glaze on the meat. Salt and pepper, to taste. (I use Lawry's Seasoning Salt, which gives the meat a great flavor with the glaze.)
We have used this glaze with pork chops, chicken, ham, and salmon and it taste great with them all!
My great-niece, Abigail, calls me "Aunt Beretta". Her parents have tried to tell her my name is Loretta, but she will argue that no, they are saying it wrong, it is Beretta. A while back I was watching her play with another great-niece, who calls me "Aunt Retta". When she was talking to me and said, "Aunt Retta," Abigail piped up and said, "She doesn't even know how to say your name right! She said Aunt Retta and it's supposed to be Aunt Beretta!"
Conceit is an odd disease; it makes everyone sick but the one who has it. - unknown
We love you!
Loretta & Jon