I am sure that all of us have been pushed to our limit at some point. The danger of being in this zone is that we often don’t respond properly. Think about the last time that you let frustration get the better of you. The Bible reminds us that there are consequences when we let frustration direct our words and actions.
Many of you know the story behind why Moses was not allowed by God to enter the promised land. It was because he struck the rock rather than speaking to it. It is easy to be tempted to think that the punishment was a little heavy handed. But was it? Let’s do a quick dive into the account.
The “Rock” incident was actually the culmination of a number of frustrating events for Moses. It seems, that like us, he let them build, until he acted in a way that he would later regret. The people of Israel, like us, were not the easiest to work with. The year and a half that they spent journeying to the promised land was challenging for Moses to say the least. Now, we understanding that God was using these frustrations to help Moses grow in dependence with Him. The challenges of walking with the Lord is that life challenges grow progressive more challenging. The only solution is to learn to be more dependence on the Lord.
The first attempt, yes there was a failed first attempt, to enter the promised land resulted in a redirection of God’s people to spend 40 years in the dessert until the generation of adults, 20 years and older had passed away. If that was not enough, there were outright challenges by a split lead by Korah that challenged Moses authority. It seemed like at each turn the people found something new to be obsessed over to the point of blaming Moses for trying to kill them off in the desert. Then in Numbers 20 they travel to an oasis, a place they had been before, but this time there was no water.
It is an understatement to say that this is a problem when you need water for over 2 Million people. Let’s just say they were not happy campers. So, Moses turned to the Lord for help and God instructs him to take his staff and speak to the rock, but Moses instead strikes it. “And Moses lifted up his hand and struck the rock with his staff twice, and water came out abundantly, and the congregation drank, and their livestock.” (Numbers 20:11)
God supports Moses’ authority before the people and sends water after the second strike. But Moses crossed the line. “And the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, “Because you did not believe in me, to uphold me as holy in the eyes of the people of Israel, therefore you shall not bring this assembly into the land that I have given them.”” (Numbers 20:12)
The challenge here is that Moses allowed His frustration with the “kids” to sidetrack Him from obeying the Lord. The phrase that Moses does not “uphold me as holy in the eyes of the people of Israel” speaks of Moses putting himself first before the Lord. He allowed His frustration to lead to sin. The sin was in doing what He wanted to do, to demonstrate to the people who He was. The problem was, when he did that, he stole God’s glory. The miracle provision was from God, not Moses.
The challenge for you and me is to not allow frustration to push us to act in a self-focused way. Because when we do, we rob God of His glory, and fail to “uphold Him as holy!” How often are we robbed of God’s blessing by our own frustration?
-Pastor Joe Parkinson