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Speak to the Rock!

“And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, Take the rod, and gather the assembly and speak unto the rock before their eyes; and it shall give forth his water… and Moses took the rod from before the LORD… and said unto them, Hear now, ye rebels; must we fetch you water out of this rock? And Moses lifted up his hand, and with his rod he smote the rock twice: and water came out abundantly, and the congregation drank.”

Numbers 20:7-11


In our passage, Moses was instructed to “speak” to the rock. Instead Moses in anger spoke to the people, and smote the rock disobeying the LORD God.

Now think with me!  Is not Moses at fault?  So why would God command Moses to take the rod if he was commanded only to “speak” to the rock? Understand that the rod of God was identified with judgment. It was the same rod used in judgment against the Egyptians. Also the rod was used to strike the rock some thirty-eight years earlier (Exodus 17), which pictured the judgment that was to come upon Christ “our Rock” (1 Corinthians 10:4).

Moses was commanded to “speak” to the rock in order to show grace, but instead he struck the rock with the rod of judgment and that was emblematic of re-crucifying Christ.   God is not pleased with man-made religious rituals that re-sacrifice His Son. God’s children are “sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all” (Hebrews 10:10). Only one sacrifice for sin and therefore the rock was to be smitten only once.

Clearly, this is teaching that judgment is in the background when grace is given. If judgment did not lurk in the background then how would we understand God’s amazing and sovereign grace? Israel seeing the rod may fear, yet if Moses spoke to the rock it would produce a river of grace. Moses in anger struck the rock – but God graciously did not withhold water from the people.   Nevertheless, the reaction of Moses was not without consequences. Moses did not sanctify God’s holiness before the people and therefore he was not allowed to enter the Promised Land (Numbers 20:12).

We all need to be reminded that God’s holiness will never be compromised. Wonder of wonders it is that God in His sovereign purpose gives grace to the lost in a way that does not violate His holiness and His purpose, through His Son Jesus Christ. That is why Christ “our Rock” was smitten on the cross, which both satisfies God’s holy justice and reconciles lost sinners. What a plan! The Holy God remains holy, and sinners receive abundant grace. I hope you can see that it is a joy for God to pour out abundant grace for those who “speak” to the Rock.    (Printed in the Marshall County Tribune)


David C. Hale, pastor

New Life Community Church

Lewisburg, TN 37091

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