Bible Readings for May 11th

Numbers 20 | Psalms 5859 | Isaiah 9 | James 3

It takes only four verses here in Numbers 20 to disqualify the great Moses from entering into the Promised Land. It wasn’t that there was anything wrong with Moses’s striking the rock with his staff to bring forth water, since he had previously done that in strict accordance with God’s own commandment back in Exodus 17:1–7.

But this time was different. We don’t know what provoked his frustration, but Moses and Aaron rise up to defy the people of Israel, saying, “Hear now, you rebels: shall we bring water for you out of this rock?” (Num. 20:10). In a moment of hot anger, Moses and Aaron stole the glory from Yahweh as the holy God who gave his people water to drink. The two essentially said, “You ingrates! Do you not recognize how much we have given to you these long years?” And in response, Yahweh swore that Moses and Aaron would never enter into the Promised Land because of what they had done.

As we reflect on this story, we should first be reminded to pray for our spiritual leaders. Do not too quickly overlook Moses’s longsuffering patience throughout his leadership of Israel through the wilderness, despite their many grumblings and personal attacks against him along the way. Up to this point, through everything Moses had endured, he had never failed to uphold Yahweh as holy. Similarly, our pastors, elders, and deacons carry a heavy burden, and yet they labor selflessly for years to present us complete in Christ on the last day. Nevertheless, a long, faithful ministry can fall to pieces in a single, sinful moment. Pray that God would give our leaders grace not to stumble as Moses did.

Second, we should take heed of the fact that not even Moses escaped judgment for profaning Yahweh’s holiness. Moses was not an indispensable part of God’s plan for this world, and if he wasn’t, then you and I should recognize that we aren’t either. God knows all that we do—especially if he has granted us positions of leadership—and his judgment will surely come for those who do not repent.

But finally, we should not miss the glimmer of gospel light shining from this story. Moses sealed his fate by striking the rock so that water poured out, but Paul tells us that Jesus was the Rock (1 Cor. 10:4). John, then, bears witness that when Jesus was struck while on the cross, water poured out from his side along with his blood (John 19:31–37).

Because Jesus has ultimately succeeded, we cannot fail, because God credits his Christ’s righteousness to the account of all who believe on him. Therefore, those who trust in Christ will never be excluded from the ultimate promised land—that is, the New Jerusalem that will come down from heaven on the last day (Rev. 21).

Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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