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  • William T. Howe Ph.D.

February 19, 2024

Read to Read …Again


Daily Reading:  Numbers   18-20


Numbers 20:8

Take 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.


So, it’s been about thirty-eight years in the wilderness wanderings. Another generation has come of age and will soon cross over into the promise land. Yet, this new generation also demanded water in the desert. On one hand, water is so vitally important to life, who could blame them? On the other, had they learned nothing from the previous generation of God’s miraculous watchcare over them? No doubt they heard the stories of the Lord’s powerful provisions, yet they seemed to have an unreal nostalgic remembrance of how things were in Egypt (vs. 5). They even claimed that Moses and Aaron had some diabolical plot to bring them out into the desert just to kill them (vs. 4).


It's been a long thirty-eight years. Moses has been dealing with their murmuring, complaining, and basic belly aching for a long time. But, in respect to their duty they appeared before the Lord enquiring as to what to do. He told them to 1) take the rod, 2) gather Israel, and 3) speak to the rock. Upon speaking to the rock water would flow out and this new generation would see with their eyes a miracle of God.


The first hint of the wrong spirit of Moses was his attitude toward those he served. Hear now ye rebels... Numbers 20:10 That seems odd in keeping with the meekness, spirit of intercession, and care Moses had demonstrated over the past thirty-eight years. Not only was his spirit dangerous, his self-importance and self-reliance came bursting through. Must we fetch you water out of this rock? As if he and Aaron had the ability to bring water from a rock. Or that they had the power to perform this miracle. Or that they were the heroes of the people not God. The motivation of why is unavailable to the reader, but the words of pride and arrogancy are. Something was wrong in the heart.


So, he hit the rock twice. Instead of speaking to it he hit it. Twice. Not only was this done in a wrong spirit and motivation, not only did his words rob God of His glory, it also confused the future Gospel. You see that rock is an Old Testament picture of Christ. 1 Corinthians 10:4 proves this. And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ. Christ was crucified once for all, Hebrews 10:10 is clear about that. By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. He was/is not crucified over and over and over again, He was crucified on that old rugged cross one time.


The picture of Moses speaking to the rock would represent the ever-present promise of Christ’s provision as found through prayer even unto today. But he didn’t speak to it, he struck it with the rod. Because of this, Moses would not enter the promise land, neither would Aaron. All because they had a bad day and seemingly to us made a harmless mistake. But to God this was a grievous error. It robbed God of His rightful preeminence and confused the future story of Christ’s Gospel.


Thirty-eight years of great leadership muddied by one simple act of frustration, pride, and lack of obedience to God’s clear cut command.


William T. Howe Ph.D.

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