Sunday, July 01, 2012

Angry Obedience

 32They angered him also at the waters of strife, so that it went ill with Moses for their sakes:
 33Because they provoked his spirit, so that he spake unadvisedly with his lips.

Angry Obedience

As Psalm 106 continues the narrative of the sojourn of the children of Israel through the wilderness, just two verses of the Psalm are used to remind the readers of Moses' angry obedience and the dire consequences it held for him. Earlier in their wilderness wanderings the nation of Israel was without water in the hot desert. In answer to Moses' pleas to God for help, God instructed Moses to take his staff and strike a rock, out of which gushed forth water.

However in this similar situation, God's instruction were different. Here is the account as given in Numbers 20.
  7And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
 8Take the rod, and gather thou the assembly together, thou, and Aaron thy brother, and speak ye unto the rock before their eyes; and it shall give forth his water, and thou shalt bring forth to them water out of the rock: so thou shalt give the congregation and their beasts drink.
 9And Moses took the rod from before the LORD, as he commanded him.
 10And Moses and Aaron gathered the congregation together before the rock, and he said unto them, Hear now, ye rebels; must we fetch you water out of this rock?
 11And Moses lifted up his hand, and with his rod he smote the rock twice: and the water came out abundantly, and the congregation drank, and their beasts also.
 12And the LORD spake unto Moses and Aaron, Because ye believed me not, to sanctify me in the eyes of the children of Israel, therefore ye shall not bring this congregation into the land which I have given them.
 13This is the water of Meribah; because the children of Israel strove with the LORD, and he was sanctified in them.

(Numbers 20:7-13, King James Version)
What did God command Moses to do? How did Moses respond? God commanded Moses to speak to the rock, but, instead, Moses struck the rock twice with his rod. Interestingly enough, water did flow out of the rock, but God charged both Moses and Aaron saying, Because ye believed me not, to sanctify me in the eyes of the children of Israel, therefore ye shall not bring this congregation into the land which I have given them.

It does not seem to be such a great sin to us, does it? However that particular sin kept both Moses and Aaron out of the Promised Land. How do we fare on God's scale of obedience? How particular are we about the details of our obedience or lack of obedience to the commandments of God? Are we prone to change the details of God's commandments so they better suit our ability or desire to be obedient to them?

Are we quick to change the terms of God's commandments to make them more palatable to the culture in which we live? Years ago a song was quite popular in Christian circles entitled, "He'll Understand and Say, 'Well Done!'" I have often been uncomfortable with that line of reasoning. Is that really what God will say? If we sometimes obey God, or mostly obey God, will He really understand and say, "Well Done"? 

Moses was not really angry with the Lord, he was angry at the unbelief and continual complaining of the children of Israel. Did his frustration and anger with the people justify his disobedience? Not in the eyes of God. Though Moses later plead with God that He allow Him to enter the Promised Land, God never relented. He only allowed Moses to view the Promised Land from the tops of the nearby mountains.

Let us remember that God is God, and we are not! By His grace, love, and mercy, may we find ourselves zealously obeying the Lord our God, even in the tiniest details.

Oh what a wonder that Jesus found me.
Out in the darkness, no light could I see.
Oh what a wonder! He put His great arm under,
And wonder of wonders, He saved even me!

God Bless You,

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