Carmel Sermons Resources

Home / Carmel Sermons / Moses: Listen Very Carefully – Numbers 20

Moses: Listen Very Carefully – Numbers 20

Nov 26, 2023
video-link podcast-link download-link

Listen Very Carefully (Numbers 20)

Numbers covers the nearly 40 year period from the giving of the Law at Mt. Sinai until the eve of the conquest. Numbers 20 is the ending of the 40 years of wandering in the wilderness, and we see in verse 1 that the Israelites have taken 40 years to make an 11 day journey to Kadesh. This is because of the lack of faith that the spies had as they went and checked out the Promised Land. Ten of the spies came back and lived in fear, while Joshua and Caleb had faith that the land could be taken. Due to the lack of faith of the 10, an entire generation was affected! We see that Moses’ sister, Miriam, has just died and was buried at Kadesh. She was the only woman whose death was mentioned for this entire generation. Then, in verse 2, we see a repeat of the people with Moses. There was no water for the people or their livestock, so they assembled against Moses and Aaron. They quarreled with them and said it would have been better to be in Egypt instead of this desert. And they added, “why have you made us come up out of Egypt to bring us to this evil place?” Not only did they ask the rhetorical question concerning whether they were brought out of Egypt to die in the wilderness, as they had asked before, but they also expressed the wish that they had died as their rebellious brothers had before. To call the place where God had guided them as “evil” was dangerous ground for the people to tread. Moses and Aaron, as before, went to the tent of meeting and fell on their faces before the Lord. God clearly told Moses to:

  1. Take the staff
  2. Assemble the congregation
  3. Tell the rock before their eyes to yield its water.

Moses disobeyed. Instead, he:

  1. Took the staff
  2. Assembled the congreation
  3. STRUCK the rock twice and water flowed.

Moses also said, “Hear now, you rebels; shall we bring water for you out of this rock?” The prophet who previously had been called “more humble than any other man on the face of the earth” had acted in arrogance. Moses was told to strike the rock and obeyed (Ex 17:6) but in Numbers 20 he was only to speak to the rock (Nu 20:8) and he disobeyed (Nu 20:11-12). Here are some things to consider about why Moses might have been in a bad state of mind:

  1. His big sister has died
  2. He was frustrated
  3. He was angry
  4. He was tired of being blamed for everything that went wrong
  5. He had gotten them through one disaster after another
  6. He was continually interceding on their behalf to keep them out of trouble

We have seen that Moses has an anger problem. He killed an Egyptian, he left Pharaoh in anger after announcing the final plague, and he broke the tablets during the golden calf incident. With all this background knowledge, we can see why Moses had done the thing that worked 40 years earlier. God had told him to strike the rock before, but it was the wrong thing to do this time. What Moses had told the Israelites to do – to listen – he himself had not done. Sometimes in exhaustion or exasperation, we don’t pay close attention to God. We assume He will always work the same way, but He doesn’t. There was a dire consequence for Moses’ action. In verse 12, “And the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, Because you did not believe in me, to uphold me as holy in the eyes of the people of Israel, therefore you shall not bring this assembly into the land that I have given them.” There are consequences for sin. We are forgiven, but actions have consequences, so we need to think deeply about our decisions. The tragedy is that Yahweh could get them out of Egypt in one night, but couldn’t get Egypt out of them in 40 years. Moses was a pointer to Jesus. He was not the hero, He was flawed. He was an amazing leader, but he wasn’t the answer. Jesus is. Questions:

  1. Tell of a time when your emotions made you act in a way that you shouldn’t have. How do our emotions cloud our judgment? What should you do in those moments?
  2. Do you know when God is telling you to act, to speak, or to wait? Share a time when He has told you to do something. How did you know that it was the right thing to do?
  3. What is one step you are going to take to make sure you are obeying what God is saying to you?