Moses' Sin at Kadesh
Moses is certainly one of the great Bible examples of faithfulness throughout his life (Hebrews 3:2, 5; 11:24-29). Moses, like all other men, sinned at points in his life though (Romans 3:10, 23). The Bible records for us some of the failures of Moses so we can learn not to imitate these aspects of his life (1 Corinthians 10:11; Romans 15:4). One instance of sin in the life of Moses occurs near the end of the forty year period of wandering in the wilderness. We read about this failure in the life of Moses in Numbers 20:2-13. Let’s examine some lessons we can learn from Moses’ failure on this occasion.
- Past faithfulness does not guarantee future faithfulness. Moses had already demonstrated faithfulness multiple times before coming to this challenge. Moses trusted in God when deciding to side with the children of Israel rather than enjoy the passing pleasures of sin (Hebrews 11:24-26). Moses trusted in God when it came to crossing the Red Sea as they were fleeing from Pharaoh and his army (Hebrews 11:29). Moses trusted in God earlier when the children of Israel were in a very similar situation and complaining about a lack of water (Exodus 17:1-7). A person can demonstrate faithfulness in a variety of areas in life and yet still be susceptible to falling. A person can be successful against a temptation at one point only to fall for it at a future point. We need to not become overconfident in our abilities and faithfulness (1 Corinthians 10:12). Moses can help us all learn this valuable lesson.
- God’s commands must be obeyed exactly as they are given. God told Moses specifically what to do in order to bring forth water for the children of Israel. He said, “Take the rod; you and your brother Aaron gather the congregation together. Speak to the rock before their eyes, and it will yield its water; thus you shall bring water for them out of the rock, and give drink to the congregation and their animals” (Numbers 20:8, NKJV). Moses obeys aspects of this commandment: 1. He takes the rod (Numbers 20:9). 2. Moses and Aaron gathered the congregation together (Numbers 20:10). However, instead of speaking to the rock as God commanded him to do Moses struck the rock twice with his rod (Numbers 20:11). God will point out Moses’ actions on this occasion demonstrated a failure to believe God (Numbers 20:12). Whenever we decide to do something different than what God has commanded us, we are demonstrating a failure to believe God. True belief in God leads one to be careful to do things exactly the way God has commanded us to do things. Obedience and belief go together. One cannot truly be said to believe God who fails to obey God.
- Moses does not obey God on this occasion and yet, “water came out abundantly, and the congregation and their animals drank” (Numbers 20:11, NKJV). What are some possible lessons we can take from this part of the text? 1. This example may demonstrate for us the longsuffering of God with His people in providing for their needs even despite their failures. 2. Disobedience may bring about some momentary results but that does not mean it is approved by God. 3. We cannot use the standard of whether something accomplishes an intended result as to whether God is pleased with it or not. People today may want to argue using social events and activities to entice people to come to worship God is okay instead of relying upon the appeal of the gospel (Romans 1:16; John 6:44-45) because it results in people coming. Just because people are brought in by such efforts does not mean God is pleased just as the fact water came from the rock did not mean God was pleased.