It’s been almost 40 years and the Israelites have wandered through the desert wilderness and have ended up back where they started in Kadesh. Right on the edge of the Promised Land where they sent the 12 spies, but they didn’t trust God enough to go in and face the inhabitants. What now?
It seems the younger generation who will inherit the Promised Land is doing OK. It’s the older folks that continue rebelling. Again, they complain, and again God provides. However, this time it’s Moses and Aaron who don’t follow God’s instructions to the letter and suffer the consequences. Let’s dig in…
Numbers 20 – Speak to the Rock
In the first month of the year, the whole community of Israel arrived in the wilderness of Zin and camped at Kadesh. While they were there, Miriam died and was buried.
2 There was no water for the people to drink at that place, so they rebelled against Moses and Aaron. 3 The people blamed Moses and said, “If only we had died in the Lord’s presence with our brothers! 4 Why have you brought the congregation of the Lord’s people into this wilderness to die, along with all our livestock? 5 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!”
6 Moses and Aaron turned away from the people and went to the entrance of the Tabernacle, where they fell face down on the ground. Then the glorious presence of the Lord appeared to them, 7 and the Lord said to Moses, 8 “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.”
9 So Moses did as he was told. He took the staff from the place where it was kept before the Lord. 10 Then he and Aaron summoned the people to come and gather at the rock. “Listen, you rebels!” he shouted. “Must we bring you water from this rock?” 11 Then Moses raised his hand and struck the rock twice with the staff, and water gushed out. So the entire community and their livestock drank their fill.
12 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!” 13 This place was known as the waters of Meribah (which means “arguing”) because there the people of Israel argued with the Lord, and there he demonstrated his holiness among them.Numbers 20:1-13 NLT
A Symbol of Jesus
Jesus is the Rock. He gives us Living Water, which is the Holy Spirit. Back in Exodus, God told Moses to strike the rock and water poured out. Moses didn’t have to strike the rock again, but just speak to it. In anger towards the people, Moses struck the rock, disobeying God. He let his emotions cloud his judgement.
How many times do we let our emotions cloud our judgement? How many times do we do things when we knew better? How many times do we let pride, greed, vanity, lust, etc. get between us and God?
If we put Jesus first, if we seek HIM above all else, He WILL PROVIDE what we NEED!
33 Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.Matthew 6:33 NLT
Another point here is that Jesus died once. We all die once. Jesus is represented by the Rock which Moses hit the first time to get water. He didn’t need to hit the rock again. Let’s take a look at Hebrews 9…
24 For Christ did not enter into a holy place made with human hands, which was only a copy of the true one in heaven (the temple). He entered into heaven itself to appear now before God on our behalf. 25 And he did not enter heaven to offer himself again and again, like the high priest here on earth who enters the Most Holy Place year after year with the blood of an animal. 26 If that had been necessary, Christ would have had to die again and again, ever since the world began. But now, once for all time, he has appeared at the end of the age to remove sin by his own death as a sacrifice.
27 And just as each person is destined to die once and after that comes judgment, 28 so also Christ was offered once for all time as a sacrifice to take away the sins of many people. He will come again, not to deal with our sins, but to bring salvation to all who are eagerly waiting for him.Hebrews 9:24-28 NLT
The Roman Catholic Church crucifies and kills Jesus each time they “celebrate” the Eucharist. This is so wrong! Check out the research I did on the Catholic Mass.
Next, they ask a favor from the king of Edom. All they wanted to do is to take a shortcut through Edom. They say that they will stick to the main trade route — King’s Road — and even pay for any water that their livestock drinks. But the King of Edom is adamant and says no. This may stem way back to the ancestors of both groups — twins Esau and Jacob. Remember back in Genesis, Jacob stole Esau’s birthright and blessing. The king of Edom wasn’t being very brotherly to his “brother”. It seems the animosity still stands — maybe even today. Edom is part of modern-day Jordan. You can read about it here.
The Death of Aaron
22 The whole community of Israel left Kadesh and arrived at Mount Hor. 23 There, on the border of the land of Edom, the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, 24 “The time has come for Aaron to join his ancestors in death. He will not enter the land I am giving the people of Israel, because the two of you rebelled against my instructions concerning the water at Meribah. 25 Now take Aaron and his son Eleazar up Mount Hor. 26 There you will remove Aaron’s priestly garments and put them on Eleazar, his son. Aaron will die there and join his ancestors.”
27 So Moses did as the Lord commanded. The three of them went up Mount Hor together as the whole community watched. 28 At the summit, Moses removed the priestly garments from Aaron and put them on Eleazar, Aaron’s son. Then Aaron died there on top of the mountain, and Moses and Eleazar went back down. 29 When the people realized that Aaron had died, all Israel mourned for him thirty days.Numbers 20:22-29 NLT
God graciously allowed Aaron to see his son take his place. Nevertheless, it’s sad that he wouldn’t get to see the Promised Land.
The Canaanite king of Arad, who lived in the Negev, heard that the Israelites were approaching on the road through Atharim. So he attacked the Israelites and took some of them as prisoners. 2 Then the people of Israel made this vow to the Lord: “If you will hand these people over to us, we will completely destroy all their towns.” 3 The Lord heard the Israelites’ request and gave them victory over the Canaanites. The Israelites completely destroyed them and their towns, and the place has been called Hormah ever since.
The Bronze Snake
4 Then the people of Israel set out from Mount Hor, taking the road to the Red Sea to go around the land of Edom. But the people grew impatient with the long journey, 5 and they began to speak against God and Moses. “Why have you brought us out of Egypt to die here in the wilderness?” they complained. “There is nothing to eat here and nothing to drink. And we hate this horrible manna!”
6 So the Lord sent poisonous snakes among the people, and many were bitten and died. 7 Then the people came to Moses and cried out, “We have sinned by speaking against the Lord and against you. Pray that the Lord will take away the snakes.” So Moses prayed for the people.
8 Then the Lord told him, “Make a replica of a poisonous snake and attach it to a pole. All who are bitten will live if they simply look at it!” 9 So Moses made a snake out of bronze and attached it to a pole. Then anyone who was bitten by a snake could look at the bronze snake and be healed!Numbers 21:4-9 NLT
Next, they wander to Moab, to the land of the Amorites. They requested passage through the land from King Sihon, but he also refused. The king, however, mobilized his army and attacked them. The Israelites beat them and set up occupation in their territory. At Bashan, the same thing happened. You can read the story here.
Now, back to Jesus….
I’m going to borrow from the Bible study from Spoken Gospel again. Find it in the free YouVersion bible app.
In the Gospel of John, Jesus says that he is like the bronze serpent (John 3:14-15). He too will be lifted up on a cross like the serpent was lifted up on a pole. He too will take the poison of sin that is killing the world on himself.
And when we do look at him and believe, not only do the snakes of sin and death lose their sting, we get nourished with fresh water in the wilderness. For the New Testament also tells us that Jesus is the fulfillment of the rock in the wilderness (1 Cor 10:4). For he was struck like the rock to provide abundantly for a grumbling people who don’t deserve it.
We deserve the punishment of Aaron, Moses, and the older generation. But God sent his son into the world to raise up a new generation of people who do not perish, who will triumph over the true enemies of God through truth and love, and who will enter into the final Promised Land.“Jesus in all of Numbers” by Spoken Gospel
Let’s review what Jesus said in John 3…
13 No one has ever gone to heaven and returned. But the Son of Man has come down from heaven. 14 And as Moses lifted up the bronze snake on a pole in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, 15 so that everyone who believes in him will have eternal life.
16 “For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. 17 God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him.John 3:13-17 NLT
God does look at ALL of our actions SERIOUSLY! Don’t think you can hide from Him — you can’t. You can’t follow or obey God if you don’t TRUST God! To trust Him fully, you MUST surrender your life to Him. Before you can do that, you must repent of your sins. A sinful person will never enter Heaven — only FORGIVEN people will!
If you’re not sure if you’re saved or not, if you truly want to be born again and have the assurance of salvation, receive the Holy Spirit, and get a 1-way, non-stop ticket to Heaven after you die, or that you won’t be left behind at the Rapture, which can happen at any moment, this is what you have to do…
Believe. Repent. Be Baptized. Receive the Holy Spirit.
- Believe — have Faith — that Jesus is the Christ and He died taking your sins away forever and that He rose from the dead 3 days later.
- Repent of your sins — stop sinning! Do a complete 180 degree turn in your life and surrender your life to Him.
- Be Baptized — show the world and yourself that you have died to your old life and are born again in Christ.
- Receive the Holy Spirit in your heart.
God So Loved the World
Soli Deo Gloria! To God Alone Be the Glory!
Top image by Sweet Publishing from FreeBibleImages.org, (CC BY-SA 3.0)