Posted by: mikenicholsblog | February 18, 2015

contradictions

My life is often such a contradiction. One moment, I am seeking to live out God’s principles, and the next I am seeking my own way. Some days I listen well, and on other days, my selfishness and noisy mind refuse to heed my Father’s wishes. There are sunny days filled with good decisions and thoughtful moments, but often cloudy days of quick reactions and ill-timed words still frustrate me. When I read about a wonderful man named Moses, I can see a life that had its own share of contradictions.

Talk about an adventuresome life! Moses’ journey takes us from the riches of Egypt to the backside of the desert. Through the lens of Scripture we see Him at the burning bush and leading the children of Israel through the Red Sea. He spent time on the mountain with God, and brought back the Ten Commandments. Leading a band of people who were easily disgruntled would have been quite the adventure.

As we follow Moses’ life and leadership through the pages of God’s Word, we see him as a man deeply dedicated to the Lord, but also with great weakness and sin. It is stunning to me that late in the wilderness journey the unthinkable (at least, to me) happened — an event that kept Moses from going into the Promised Land. Have you ever wondered why?

Numbers chapter twelve tells us that Moses was more humble than anyone else on the face of the earth. But in Numbers chapter twenty, we see an indignant man who acted rashly and lost his opportunity to lead his people into the Promised Land. The Israelites were grumbling again about the lack of water. Moses was instructed to take his staff and speak to the rock. God told him it would pour out water. Remember at an earlier time when the children of Israel were unhappy about the lack of water, Moses was instructed to smite the rock. He had done as God commanded and water flowed, but this time, he disobeyed and instead of speaking, he smote the rock twice.

He and Aaron gathered the assembly together in front of the rock and Moses said to them, “Listen you rebels, must we bring you water out of this rock?” Then Moses raised his arm and struck the rock twice with his staff. Water gushed out, and the community and their livestock drank. But the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, “Because you did not trust in me enough to honor me as holy in the sight of the Israelites, you will not bring this community into the land I give them.”
Numbers 20:10-12

A man known for humility was overtaken by rash, angry words. He said, “must we bring you water out of this rock?” Although there can be varying opinions on why this was such a glaring failure, there is no question that Moses directly disobeyed God’s design and desire, and in his own power, struck the rock. Centuries later, we struggle with the same problem, taking God’s design and doing it our way. Whether we do it out of reaction or rebellion, we choose our own means and method.  God has always placed a high value on obedience, whether it was smiting a rock or living our way in the 21st century.

It’s still hard for me to look at this incident and not say, “Moses, you knew better!”  It’s also hard for me to look at my own failures and not say, “Mike, you knew better!” Lessons learned from this scene can be very helpful to any Christ follower. The Father wants obedient children; He does know best! Even as we see contradictions in the life of Moses, he was a great man of faith. The same can be said of you and me. Will it?

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