Blaine Robison, M.A.
Delivered 4 July 2020
Treat the Holy One as Holy
But ADONAI said to Moshe and Aharon, "Because you did not trust me to
treat Me as holy in the eyes of the sons of Israel, therefore you will
not bring this assembly into the land which I have given them." 13 Those
were the waters of Merivah, because the sons of Israel contended with
ADONAI, and He showed Himself holy among them." (Num
For additional information on this chapter see
my notes here.
To understand God's rebuke
of Mosheh we need to consider the context of this chapter. This was now the
fortieth year since Israel gained freedom from Egypt. They had journeyed into the wilderness of Zin, a barren wasteland
not far from the border of Canaan, and the people camped at Kadesh. The
narrative opens with a simple obituary "Miriam died there and was buried
The narrative goes on to
say that there was no water in that place. Many of the people held a public
protest against Mosheh and their emotional complaint is recorded in verses
three to five. They pointed out the land was not even fit to grow crops. As
usual Moshe and Aharon sought guidance from the LORD who instructed them to
take the rod of Moshe that had been used so many times before to perform
miracles and speak to a small hill of solid rock to produce its water. All
the previous miracles performed by Mosheh had involved physical action,
often using the rod, but speaking to an inanimate object? That made no
The very specific divine
instruction may well have been given as a test, and from God's point of view
the rock would sooner hear and obey His commands than the complainers.
Yeshua perhaps had this incident in mind when some Pharisees told him to
rebuke his disciples for crying out "Barukh habba b'shem ADONAI"
when he entered Jerusalem. And Yeshua, answered, "I say to you, if these
will be silent, the stones will cry out!" (Luke 19:40).
Sha'ul wrote in First
Corinthians 10 that the rock in the wilderness represented the presence of
Yeshua supplying the Israelites with water when they needed it [1Cor 10:4].
is often called the Rock of Salvation in the Tanakh. So the instruction
"speak to the Rock" could have a particular spiritual meaning of "believing
prayer." Yeshua would later state this as a principle: "whatever you ask for
in prayer, trust that you are receiving it, and it will be yours" [Mark
Mosheh did not take the
time to work out what the LORD meant. He was angry with the people, calling
them hamorim ("the rebellious ones"), and then taunted them, "must we
bring water out of this rock for you," meaning "you don't really deserve
water." So Mosheh struck the rock twice with the rod. And, water came forth
in abundance, enough for all the people and their animals.
But the LORD
responded with what may seem as a shocking declaration and rebuke. He
pronounced a judgment on both Moshe and Aharon for not speaking to the rock
as instructed (Num 20:8). Neither of these leaders would live to lead the
nation into the promised land. The severity of the punishment was due to the
fact that Mosheh did not treat the Holy One as holy in the presence of the
In other words, the
congregation had heard the instruction Moshe had been given and Mosheh
didn't show respect to the one who was in authority over him. Just imagine
if your boss at work told you to do something in the presence of your fellow
workers and you did the opposite. How would your boss feel about such open
defiance, and being "dissed" in the presence of all the workers?
From a human point of view
we can understand the emotional reaction of Mosheh, perhaps grieving over
the loss of Miriam and certainly frustrated with repeated anarchy by people
he had led out of Egyptian bondage. In fact, this was the fourteenth time
that people acted against Mosheh and tested the LORD.
Mosheh was fed up with rebellion in the ranks and so he used his rod in
anger. But, God has a simple standard. If you deliberately disobey Him, He
will punish you.
Hear what the Spirit says
to the people of God, the followers of Yeshua. We are citizens of the
republic of the United States and today we celebrate its founding and our
constitutional freedoms and show our appreciation for those who have served
our country and sacrificed to keep America free. Patriotic Americans also
show respect for our country's history, laws and traditions.
But, more importantly we
are citizens of Messiah's kingdom. We have a sacred history of redemption
and we have traditions and laws that Yeshua and his emissaries passed on for
us to follow. We have an obligation to our King to treat Him and His
expectations of us as holy. Sha'ul exhorted the congregation at Colossae "to
walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing
fruit in every good work" [Col 1:10 TLV]. We must not be complacent or
reckless about our obedience. If God would punish His servant Mosheh for
disobedience, He will surely punish us for not treating Him as holy. Let us
be wholly, that's W-H-O-L-L-Y, wholly His.
Copyright © 2020 by
Blaine Robison. All rights reserved.