Moses sinned! The great man who led a grumbling, murmuring nation yet was marked by grace and compassion; Moses, the man who was silent when his own brother and sister vilified him; Moses, the man who rose to Christ-like heights when he was willing to die for an ungrateful people. Moses sinned!
When told to speak to the rock to provide water for the people, in a fit of anger he smote the rock (Num 20:1-12). And God said, as a result of the sin, that Moses could not enter the Promised Land with the nation. Moses sinned!
What was his sin? Some will suggest that he failed to obey God. Disobedience is likened to witchcraft and idolatry elsewhere because it sets up self will in total opposition to the divine will (1Sam 15:22, 23). Disobedience is what brought sin into the world (Rom 5:19) and what has marked every transgression since that time.
Another would suggest that Moses’ act spoiled a type. The rock had been smitten once back in Exodus 17 and we readily see in it a picture of the Lord Jesus smitten on Calvary that we might live. Now, in Numbers 20, the rock need only be spoken to for refreshment to flow to the people of God. The picture is that of a risen Christ, no more to be smitten, Who brings refreshment to His people as our living Savior. It is only in contrast to the action of Moses that we can appreciate the picture which God intended.
But could there be another level, an even deeper one, which marked Moses’ sin? Was God angry with Israel? Had God lost His temper? Was He reluctant to give them water? Was He marked by frustration? Perhaps the ultimate failure at the rock was that Moses failed to reveal and reflect the heart of God toward His people.
Leaders are responsible to convey the mind and message of God to the people of God. But the responsibility does not end there. As those who stand in God’s stead before an assembly, leaders should reflect the manner in which God deals with His people. God never reacts impulsively or in frustration. His anger, when it does arise, is righteous. We take unwarranted refuge in the claims that our anger is righteous when, in truth, it is due to our own frustration and impatience.
As leaders, we are to be motivated by what motivates the heart of God. All that He does, His every action toward us, is motivated by a longing desire for our good, not His vindication or self-assertion. It is impossible for God to act out of character, a character of love.
So often our message is correct. We convey accurately, punctiliously, and coldly, the mind of God. Yet we fail to display His manner and His motive. When we so act, we are failing to reflect Him before others and we stand with Moses – guilty of his sin and failure. The burden on leadership is awesome!