Posted by: mikenicholsblog | March 24, 2010

a rock and a hard place

There have been many times in my life when my words and actions caused me great remorse. Your memory bank probably contains recollections that make you wonder, “How could I have said that, or how could I have done that”? Can you imagine if your lack of discretion was memorialized in print? Moses was a man to be admired, a man listed in what Christians call the hall of faith in Hebrews chapter eleven. But we see a vivid description of his failure when the Israelites were grumbling by the waters of Meribah.

Psalm 106:32-33
By the waters of Meribah they angered the Lord, and trouble came to Moses because of them; for they rebelled against the Spirit of God, and rash words came from Moses’ lips.

Beyond his words, was the lack of trust in smiting the rock when the Lord told him to speak to it! And having looked at this same event just one post ago, I believe we can glean more from this moment in time, and Moses’ later reactions. Two particular thoughts deserve our attention.

Being a humble servant, you would imagine that Moses would have deep remorse and repentance for his actions. You may be surprised to know that his lingering response modeled 21st century emotions.

Deuteronomy 3:23-26
At that time I pleaded with the Lord: “O Sovereign Lord, you have begun to show to your servant your greatness and your strong hand. For what god is there in heaven or on earth who can do the deeds and mighty works you do? Let me go over and see the good land beyond the Jordan—that fine hill country and Lebanon.” But because of you the Lord was angry with me and would not listen to me. “That is enough,” the Lord said. “Do not speak to me anymore about this matter.”

Notice that the Lord refused his request: he was not going into the Promised Land. Moses was also having a major struggle: he blamed the children of Israel for God’s decision to not allow him to enter the Land. Before we condemn Moses, we must admit that we would have probably begged with the Father for entrance. And isn’t it easy to blame others rather than accept the fact that we, ourselves, had failed?

Have you ever thought about why striking the rock was such a big deal? Disobedient, yes, but he was refused entrance to the Promise Land.  Speaking of the children of Israel: I Corinthians 10:3-4 says, “They all ate the same spiritual food and drank the same spiritual drink; for they drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them, and that rock was Christ.”  Although, I certainly don’t have all the answers, read the following words and seek to gain a sense of the moment.

“The events here contrast with those in Exodus 17. In the Exodus passage, God told Moses to smite the rock, picturing our Lord’s death on the cross. But here He told him to speak to the rock, for Jesus Christ died but once…Here is the explanation of why Moses was to speak to the rock and not smite it: Christ our rock has risen from the dead; He is our living High Priest; and He gives us the spiritual blessings we need as we ask for them. A person does not have to be saved over and over again, nor does the gift of the Holy Spirit have to be repeated”.

Warren Wiersbe, Wiersbe’s Expository Outlines on the Old Testament

Christ died once for our sins and did not need to be smitten again. So as we look a bit deeper at an Old Testament passage, we can glean two important truths: saints struggle, and Christ died once for our sins and that was enough! Seek the Word, admit your struggles and embrace the cross.


  1. Good devotion- very practical.
    Speaking to the rock the second time emphasizes I John 1:9 – speaking to the Rock(Christ) and asking forgiveness of our sin is all that is necessary, once He died for our sins.

  2. Praise Him for the indisputable, indescribable death and resurrection – 1 glorious event to wash and cover all for all time!!

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