Published on
January 4, 2024

Numbers 20

“The entire Israelite community entered the desert of Zin in the first month, and they settled in Kadesh. Miriam died and was buried there.”

Author Photo
Steve Wiggins
Author Photo
Steve Wiggins
Read Time
4 minutes
Numbers 20
“The entire Israelite community entered the Wilderness of Zin in the first month, and they settled in Kadesh. Miriam died and was buried there.”  Numbers 20:1 (HCSB)

“The Lord spoke to Moses, ‘Take the staff and assemble the community. You and your brother Aaron are to speak to the rock while they watch, and it will yield its water.’”  Numbers20:7-8a (HCSB)

“So Moses took the staff from the Lord’s presence just as He has commanded him. Moses and Aaron summoned the assembly and said to them, ‘Listen you rebels! Must we bring water out of this rock for you?’  Then Moses raised his hand and struck the rock twice with his staff, so that a great amount of water gushed out, and the community and their livestock drank.”  Numbers 20:9-11 (HCSB)

“But the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, ‘Because you did not trust Me to show My holiness in the sight of the Israelites, you will not bring this assembly into the land I have given them.’”  Numbers 20:12 (HCSB)

“Take Aaron and his son Eleazar and bring them up Mount Hor.  Remove Aaron’s garments and put them on his son, Eleazar. Aaron will be gathered to his people and die there.’”  Numbers 20:25-26 (HCSB)

I have included so much Scripture here so you can see Numbers 20 as a complete thought. Generally, all these instances (combined with Edom’s refusal to let Israel pass through) are taught as individual lessons. The general theme of Numbers 20 is the end of the Mosaic era and the continuance of God’s leading. The central lesson is gleaned from the story of Moses’ drawing water from the rock at Meribah. Moses’ sister, Miriam, has just passed away, no doubt prompting Moses to question his own mortality and his legacy. Up to this point, whenever a miracle was performed, it was at Moses or Aaron’s hand, through their staffs.

The “staff of Moses” had become more synonymous with Moses’ power than God’s. In a greater sense, it represents how men worship the “leader” of worship over the “object” of worship (The Lord). The Lord instructed Moses to do a NEW thing: Take the staff, but don’t use it. “Speak forth” the water. The preacher may pass away, but the Word of God endures forever. (Isaiah 40:8; 1 Peter 1:24-25) It sustains the generations, regardless of the persona, charisma, or gimmicks of any leader.

Sensing his impending mortality, Moses decided his legacy and reputation among the Israelites would be something fantastic…and decidedly from Moses! He disobeyed God, literally trying to upstage Him by striking the rock twice to cause a GREAT flow of water. Moses achieved his desired result but to his own self-determined fate. He never entered Canaan. Aaron did nothing to stop Moses or explain to the people how Moses sinned. They would go down in history as Israel’s “dynamic duo,”… yet they didn’t finish well. It would be faithful Joshua whom the Lord chose to lead Israel into the Promised Land.

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