Grace over Judgment

LifeLink Devotional

Thursday, May 9, 2019

The Israelites are nearing the end of their forty years of wandering the desert. The previous generation made a faithless choice to not enter the Promised Land. Their wandering was God’s discipline to train them to walk by faith.  Most of those responsible for that choice have now died, and the next generation of people is ready to begin their advance towards the land God promised them. But as we mentioned yesterday, this new generation carries on the practice of grumbling when things go wrong. God needed to teach them another lesson of faith.

Numbers 20:6-12 Moses and Aaron went from the assembly to the entrance to the Tent of Meeting and fell facedown, and the glory of the LORD appeared to them. The LORD said to Moses, “Take the staff, and you and your brother Aaron gather the assembly together. Speak to that rock before their eyes and it will pour out its water. You will bring water out of the rock for the community so they and their livestock can drink.” So Moses took the staff from the LORD’S presence, just as he commanded him. He and Aaron gathered the assembly together in front of the rock and Moses said to them, “Listen, you rebels, must we bring you water out of this rock?” Then Moses raised his arm and struck the rock twice with his staff. Water gushed out, and the community and their livestock drank. But the LORD said to Moses and Aaron, “Because you did not trust in me enough to honor me as holy in the sight of the Israelites, you will not bring this community into the land I give them.”

Notice God’s grace in this well-known story. When Moses and Aaron approach God with the complaints of the people there is something different about His response from previous instances of grumbling. God gives Moses a solution to the problem without any consequences to the people. In the past, with the previous generation, consistent grumbling from faithless hearts was dealt with severely by God. But this was a new generation of people and God dealt gently with them. As the old leadership has died off, this younger generation is taking on new roles. They are inexperienced, and have only the past grumblers as an example of how to lead.

God understands this. Moses did not. Moses allowed the hurts of the past to be resurrected and his pride to become the motivator of his actions. Look at what Moses did:

  1. He directly disobeyed God by speaking to the people and not to the rock. He had been given no permission or authority to use this opportunity as a time to correct the people. He was simply told to speak to the rock and let them observe the power of God. How many times do we overstep our boundaries with people by attempting to correct them from the outside rather than letting the Holy Spirit correct them from the inside by letting them see God’s grace in us?
  2. He also directly disobeyed God by striking the rock rather than speaking to it. Moses seemed to think the people needed to see the justice of God rather than the grace of God. That is not what God wanted them to see at this time. There is a place for that, as the last generation had experienced, but not with this new group of people. God knew that they needed to see His mercy and grace, not judgment. In his arrogance, Moses thought he knew better than God. He reacted emotionally rather than with sensitivity to the people and to God’s plan. I know that we do the same in our relationships with people. We judge and condemn quickly, when God would have us show the world His grace and love.
  3. His pride was the cause of his choices. God tells Moses what he did wrong:
    1. Your faith in Me is still too small in that you did not trust My way as being the best way to bring these people along in their faith.
    2. You did not honor Me in the sight of the people. You claimed power for yourself that is rightfully Mine. It was I who would bring the water out of the rock, not you.
    3. You did not give the people a proper perspective of My holiness because you skipped the grace and mercy and went right to the judgment.

As a result of his actions, after over 40 years of faithful leadership of the people, Moses was told that he and his brother Aaron would not be allowed to enter the Promised Land. Moses was judged by God by the same standard he had used to judge the people. God had not called the people “rebels”. Moses had.  God said Moses was the rebel. Those guilty of rebellion were not allowed to experience the Promised Land.

Let’s be careful that before we look at the speck in someone else’s eye we make sure we don’t have a log in our own. Let’s be people of obedience, honoring the holiness of God before people, and understand that it is grace and love that win the hearts of man.

Pastor John