211 – Numbers 20 – Two out of three

Last time we saw the nation of Israel without water in the wilderness. They complained against Aaron and Moses accusing the brothers of wanting to see them and their cattle die (vs. 4) of thirst. We pick up the account with Moses and Aaron prostrating themselves before Yahweh.

Numbers 20:6

6       And Moses and Aaron went from the presence of the assembly to the doorway of the tent of assembly. They fell on their faces, and the glory of Yahweh appeared to them. 


Obvious among our observations is the sharp contrast between how the entire nation of Israel responded to the water crisis as opposed to the way Moses and Aaron responded. The nation responds fatalistically and is quick to point their collective finger of blame – “it’s your fault Moses and Aaron!” The brothers understand the seriousness of the dilemma, but instead of defending themselves to the nation, they turn from them and toward God. They fall flat on their faces. 

Maybe asking the question is unnecessary because of how obvious the answer is, but let’s work through the question and answer anyway. Shouldn’t we go with the majority opinion? How could only two out of upwards of 1.5 million people be right? Well if the majority is always right then let’s just be fatalistic with the rest of them! They are all gonna die and Moses and Aaron are to blame, end of story!

But that’s not the end of the story. Rarely, even in today’s world is the majority opinion the right one! But why don’t we let the scriptural account speak for itself?

Numbers 20:7

      7       Yahweh spoke to Moses, saying, 


Who did Yahweh speak to, the complaining blaming masses or the party laying prostrate before Him? You know there is a very popular misnomer floating around our modern-day culture. It says, “God helps those who help themselves”. If you’ve fallen prey to repeating that phrase I hope you’ll consider the scriptures. If you do, I believe you will rip that lie from your list of mantras.

Is God helping Moses because Moses is helping himself? No, Moses is on his face prostrate (helpless) before Yahweh! God doesn’t speak to the complaining million, he speaks to helpless Moses and gives him a plan.

Numbers 20:8

      8       “Take the staff and summon the community, you and Aaron your brother, and speak to the rock before their eyes, and it will give water. Bring out for them water from the rock, and let the community and their livestock drink.” 


Easy peasy instructions. No requirement of superhuman abilities.

  1. Take the staff.
  2. Summon the community.
  3. Speak to the rock before their eyes.

What does Moses do? Take the staff? Check. Summon the community? Check. Speak to the rock before their eyes? Nope. Well two out of three aint bad, right? Maybe by human standards, but not in God’s economy.

Let’s consult the text.

Numbers 20:9-11

      9       So Moses took the staff from before Yahweh just as he command him, 

           10       and Moses and Aaron summoned the assembly to the presence of the rock, and he said to them, “Please listen, you rebels; can we bring out water for you from this rock?” 

           11       Then Moses lifted up his hand and struck the rock with his staff twice. And abundant water went out, and the community and their livestock drank. 


What happened Moses? Why did you disobey God? You spoke to the people and hit the rock! You were just supposed to speak to the rock, but no, you hit it, twice??

Numbers 20:12

      12       But Yahweh said to Moses and Aaron, “Because you have not trusted in me, to regard me as holy in the sight of the Israelites, you will not bring this assembly into the land that I have given to them.” 


What happened? Moses didn’t trust God.

But I want to show you something. Moses disobeyed God and suffered God’s punishment. That could be the end of the matter. But God does something that demonstrates one of His attributes. Yahweh demonstrated His propensity to give His grace to man. Look at the last chapter of Deuteronomy, probably about 36 years or so after Numbers 20, just before the nation is to enter the promised land.

Deuteronomy 34:4

     Then Moses went up from the desert plateau of Moab to Mount Nebo, to the top of Pisgah, which is opposite Jericho, and Yahweh showed him all of the land, Gilead all the way up to Dan, 

           2       and all of Naphtali and the land of Ephraim and Manasseh and all of the land of Judah, up to the western sea, 

           3       and the Negev and the plain of the valley of Jericho, the city of palms, on up to Zoar. 

4       And Yahweh said to him, “This is the land that I swore to Abraham to Isaac and to Jacob, saying, ‘To your offspring I will give it.’ I have let you see it with your eyes, but you shall not cross into it.” 


God is so loving, patient, and kind! The only place you will see His character and nature revealed is within the pages of His Holy Word so lovingly delivered to us. Shouldn’t you and I hold His word in higher regard than we do? Shouldn’t we spend more time reading, studying, and walking in its truth?

God truly is worthy of all praise, worship, and adoration.


All Scriptures quotations from Harris, W. Hall, III et al., eds. The Lexham English Bible. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2012. Print.

No Replies to "211 - Numbers 20 - Two out of three"

    Got something to say?

    Some html is OK