Scripture: Numbers 20:1-13
Key verse: (13) “These are the waters of Meribah, where the people of Israel quarreled with the LORD, and by which he showed his holiness.”
Reflection: Today’s scripture passage begins on a sad note with the death of Moses’ sister, Miriam, but a greater concern was that there was no water. The people were thirsty; livestock were dying. They went to Moses and Aaron and quarreled with them asking the same question they had asked many times before: “Why did you bring us up out of Egypt to this terrible place?” After everything they had experienced so far, they still didn’t trust God. Moses and Aaron went to the Tent of Meeting to implore the LORD for help. Something that I think most leaders would do in a crisis. The LORD gave them instructions on what to do and water gushed out of the rock. Unfortunately, both Moses and Aaron were penalized for their actions because they didn’t do what the LORD told them to do. They dishonored God in front of the community when they called the people rebels and Moses hit the rock twice when he was instructed to speak to the rock. His anger got the better of him. The LORD didn’t ask him to shame the people. In doing so, he dishonored God.
I don’t know anyone who turns to the book of Numbers for their daily devotions, but there are great stories in this book about the trials and travails, the commands and the practices found in the wilderness wanderings. Another version of this story is found in the book of Exodus, and the story is referenced again in Numbers, Deuteronomy, the Psalms and Ezekiel all making the same point – there are consequences for unfaithfulness. Something we still deal with today. There are a lot of lessons in these ancient stories that challenge us to follow in God’s ways. What might happen if we followed God’s leading? Perhaps our community and world would see more clearly God’s love, acceptance, and forgiveness as we seek mercy and justice for all people through our daily choices and actions.
Prayer: Almighty God, ruler of the nations, forgive us for forgetting that you are holy and call us to be holy. Help us to follow in your ways, even when we are criticized; to trust you in the midst of our doubts; to show gentleness and persistence in addressing and relieving injustice. Give us the faith and trust, the determination and patience, to show the world through our actions, something of your love for all humanity. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
Author: Deborah Conner
[Scripture quotations are from New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved].