Water from the Rock
Numbers 20:7 The Lord spoke to Moses: 8 “You and Aaron your brother, take the staff and assemble the community. In their presence, tell the rock to provide water. You will produce water from the rock for them and allow the community and their animals to drink.”
Numbers 20:10 Moses and Aaron gathered the assembly before the rock. He said to them, “Listen, you rebels! Should we produce water from the rock for you?” 11 Then Moses raised his hand and struck the rock with his staff twice. Out flooded water so that the community and their animals could drink.
There’s a scene from the Bible that I haven’t been able to get out of my head recently. All throughout Lent, we used these words to open worship:
Lent came and went, but this story of the water from the rock stayed with me. It came up again recently in our confirmation class. We were watching a little video about the life of Moses, and it ended with remarking how the Israelites made it to the Promised Land, but Moses never did. He died on the other side of the Jordan River. God wouldn’t let him cross. And why? Because he hit a rock and water came out of it. The narrator stated this with a very confused voice, and then the video ended.
It’s true, God cites this event as the reason why Moses and Aaron can’t enter the promised land. God says to them, “Because you didn’t trust me to show my holiness before the Israelites, you will not bring this assembly into the land that I am giving them.” And why? How did they not trust God? Was it because Moses struck the rock twice instead of just telling it to provide water? Was it because he claimed the miracle for himself and Aaron instead of attributing it to God? Or was it the state of their hearts that was false?
This is a strange, weird story. It’s a story of both miracles and promise, but also doubt and punishment. But it demonstrates an important point: It takes trust to experience the Promised Land. God promises us this Promised Land too. We often call it the “Kingdom of God” and seek it “on earth as it is in heaven”. This is the promise to us of life unafraid of death, of hope unaffected by setbacks, and of love unafraid of enemies and strangers.
It takes trust to experience these Promises. Trust that love prevails. Trust that the moral arc of the universe bends towards justice. Trust that goodness is stronger than evil. Trust that we live in the middle of God’s Story, a story where the end is already written and the adventure is just figuring out how we’re going to get there.
Let’s work on trusting God together. Let’s put our trust in the Lord.
Pastor Rory Philstrom