Spiritual Autopilot

I will stand before you on the rock at Mount Sinai. Strike the rock, and water will come gushing out. Then the people will be able to drink.” So Moses struck the rock as he was told, and water gushed out as the elders looked on. Exodus 17:6 NLT

11Then Moses raised his hand and struck the rock twice with the staff, and water gushed out. So the entire community and their livestock drank their fill.12But the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, “Because you did not trust me enough to demonstrate my holiness to the people of Israel, you will not lead them into the land I am giving them!”  Numbers  20:11-12 NLT


In both scriptural passages Moses strikes a rock to bring forth water, at Mount Sinai and at Kadesh.   In both situations the Israelites had been voicing their frustrations to Moses and Aaron. They accused Moses of leading them out of  Egypt to perish. Each time,  Moses went to God and received directions from Him to get water from a rock. Yet, the second time Moses' action comes with a punishment. He and Aaron will not see the promised land.
Have you ever asked God the question, "God, I did what you told me to do. Why does it feel like I am being punished?"  I have. And there have been times that I have fallen into the same spiritual trap that Moses did. The trap of being on "spiritual autopilot."  In Exodus 17, Moses was still  fresh from the initial emotional high from the parting of the Red Sea.  His ears and his spirit eagerly received every detail of God's direction, "Strike the rock."  He followed God's direction, and water flowed from the rock.  So what was it about this situation in Kadesh that resulted in God's punishment? Moses and Aaron went to consult God as they did before. They went to the rock at Kadesh as God told them to do. So what was different this time? Let's look at preceding verses:

8“You and Aaron must take the staff and assemble the entire community. As the people watch, speak to the rock over there, and it will pour out its water. You will provide enough water from the rock to satisfy the whole community and their livestock.”9So Moses did as he was told. He took the staff from the place where it was kept before the Lord. 10Then he and Aaron summoned the people to come and gather at the rock. “Listen, you rebels!” he shouted. “Must we bring you water from this rock?”

God did not tell Moses to strike the rock this time.  God told Moses to speak to the rock. I imagine Moses was emotionally, physically, and spiritually tired under the burden of the Israelites' ongoing bickering,fussing, and disbelief. Moses shouts at the Israelites, calling them rebels, confronting their disbelief  by asking one last time, "Must we bring you water from this rock?"  I believe it is in this moment that Moses' frustration took over. His frustration gave him "selective hearing" and "selective memory."   While at Mount Sinai God demonstrated His power through Moses' physically hitting the rock, this time His plan was to provide the water by Moses merely speaking to the rock in Kadesh.  God wanted the Israelites to understand that He was the source of their blessings, not Moses or Aaron.  God wanted the Israelites to mature in their faith beyond the physical idols they had become accustomed when in Egypt. Unfortunately, Moses' impatience and frustration with the Israelites made him  miss the change in God's  instructions  at Kadesh.  If we aren't careful, we too can ask God for direction, and in our haste put our own twist on the instructions, and implement a plan that is not God's will. As a result, we not only block our blessing, but also block the blessing of those God has given us responsibility for.

Prayer for the week: Father God, thank you for another day. Forgive me for the times that I come to you for guidance, yet  allow my impatience and frustration to get in the way of clearly hearing Your instructions. Please calm my spirit and give me the peace and discernment to hear clearly what You want me to do -- and then do it. Don't let my actions, thoughts, or words block your blessings for me or others.  This I pray in Your Son, Jesus Christ's, name -- Amen.


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