Talk to the Rock

By A. A. Meeks, Sr.

When the second book of the Bible (Exodus) begins, the Israelites are slaves in Egypt. Many years before, God had promised these people a land of their own — a land where they would be free to live and conduct their affairs in the way that God would have them to do. Moses was called by God to be their leader on their journey to the “Promised Land.”

The Egyptian Pharaoh did not want to lose his slaves, so they were forbidden to leave. Finally, Moses led them across the Red Sea and into the desert.

It has been estimated that there were well over a million people in this congregation. They also had cattle, sheep, goats, and probably other kinds of livestock. That means they would need a large amount of food and water. When they needed food, God gave them manna and quail to eat. When they needed water, He provided that also.

On one occasion, while camped at Rephidim, there was no water. The people complained against Moses and Aaron. They were so angry, Moses was afraid they were going to stone him. God told Moses to gather the people before a rock and to strike the rock with his rod. When he did so, water came from the rock (Exodus 17:1-6).

At another place (Kadesh) and another time, the people were without water again. Again the people complained against Moses and God. God told Moses to gather the people before a rock and speak to the rock, and water would come forth. With the people all  together, Moses said, “Hear now, you rebels!  Must we bring water for you out of this rock?” (Num. 20:10). Then Moses struck the rock. Water did come from the rock, and the people and their stock had plenty to drink. But God said to Moses, “Because you did not believe Me, to hallow Me in the eyes of the children of Israel, therefore you shall not bring this congregation into the land which I have given them” (Num. 20:12).

When Moses was 120 years old, he had led the people to the very border of the land they were to receive as their homeland. God called Moses up into Mount Nebo. From there he was allowed to look across the river into the Promised Land. But he died, and God buried him in the mountain. He was never allowed to enter the land toward which he had been going for forty years.

Moses was a great man and a great leader. He shepherded a great throng of God’s people through forty years of wilderness wandering. Surely God must have been pleased with his work. But because Moses had not obeyed God at Kadesh, he was not permitted to enter the Promised Land.

When God, in His word, tells people to do something, He neither wants nor expects something else. Nothing else is as good as what God commands.

Those who live today must be careful not to substitute some other action for what God commands. That can never be pleasing to our Heavenly Father.