Time and again, even amid their apostasy and wilderness wanderings, God miraculously provided for the children of Israel. That is, however undeserving they were (and often remained that way) God’s grace flowed out to them. We, too, today, are recipients of His grace, however much we are undeserving of it, as well. After all, it wouldn´t be grace if we deserved it, would it?
And, besides the abundance of food that the Lord had miraculously provided for them in the wilderness, another manifestation of His grace was the water, without which they would quickly perish, especially in a dry, hot, and desolate desert. Talking about that experience, Paul wrote: “And all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ”
(1 Cor. 10:4
, NKJV). Ellen G. White also added that “Wherever in their journeyings they wanted water, there from the clefts of the rock it gushed out beside their encampment.”
— Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 411.
Read Numbers 20:1-13
. What happened here, and how do we understand the Lord´s punishment for Moses because of what he had done?
On one level, it´s not hard to see and understand Moses´ frustration. After all that the Lord had done for them, the signs and wonders and miraculous deliverance, here they were, finally, on the borders of the Promised Land. And then — what? Suddenly, they are short on water, and so they begin to conspire against Moses and Aaron. Was it that the Lord could not provide water for them now, as He had done for them so often before? Of course not; He could have, and was going to do so again.
However, look at Moses´ words as he struck the rock, even twice. “Hear now, you rebels! Must we bring water for you out of this rock?”
, NKJV). One can all but hear the anger in his voice, for he begins by calling them “rebels.”
The problem wasn´t so much his anger itself, which was bad enough but understandable — but when He said “Must we bring water for you out of this rock?”
as if he or any human being could bring water out of a rock. In his anger, he seemed to forget at the moment that it was only the power of God, working among them, that could do such a miracle. He, of all people, should have known that.