The Consequence of Unbelief

Whitney Capps

Day: 20 | Plan: Numbers

Today's Reading: Numbers 20

Numbers 20:12 (NIV) “But the LORD said to Moses and Aaron, ‘Because you did not trust in me enough to honor me as holy in the sight of the Israelites, you will not bring this community into the land I give them.’”

Moses has come a long way from fearful shepherd to faithful leader. The years spent in Midian tending the flock of his father-in-law must have been good preparation for shepherding the whiny, stubborn Israelites. Moses trusts God’s provision even as the people constantly complain and doubt.

How quickly faith can falter.

Once again the Israelites are complaining, this time about a lack of water. In Exodus 17 they voiced the same complaint. Then, God instructed Moses to strike the rock in front of the people. Now, God tells Moses to take his staff and go out, speak to the rock and water for the people will flow.

Moses kind of obeys. He gets it almost right. He stops shy of full obedience. Let’s learn from Moses’ example two important faith principles:

  • God never excuses sin.
  • Partial obedience is disobedience.

First, Moses and Aaron walk out in front of the people and ask, “ Listen, you rebels, must we bring you water out of this rock?” (Numbers 20:10). Now, he’s totally right about the “rebels” part. But it’s not Moses and Aaron that bring water from the rock. Right from the beginning, we see the condition of Moses’ heart; pride has taken root. Perhaps it’s frustration. Perhaps it’s exhaustion. Why does Moses act so out of character? We don’t know. What we know for sure is that Moses and Aaron take credit for God’s miraculous provision. No matter the motive, God does not excuse sin.

Secondly, Moses strikes the rock rather than speaking to it. And just to make sure we recognize the willful neglect of God’s command, the Bible records that Moses struck the rock twice. This may seem like a small thing, but again, God does not excuse sin, and partial obedience is disobedience.

For this offense God tells Moses that neither he nor Aaron will enter the Promised Land. All this time spent shepherding these people, listening to their complaints, interceding for them before the Lord and their sin will keep them from the Promised Land. Does this seem terribly harsh to you? I mean, poor Moses and Aaron.

And there’s my problem. I act like some sins don’t matter, but God never excuses sin. When He judges, He judges rightly.

God says it was their lack of trust and refusal to honor Him. Are we guilty of trying to hijack God’s glory for ourselves? Do we want to control a situation rather than trusting God’s process? And finally, do we wonder why God doesn’t just look the other way when we offend Him or give us a pass when our pride trumps our faith? God never excuses sin, and partial obedience is disobedience.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, this is such a hard part of Moses’ story for me to read. I guess because it reminds me of my own story. I know I’ve let my pride make poor choices. I know that I’ve wondered why sin has to be such a big deal. I know I try to pretend to give myself a pass on sin when clearly You are offended. I want to fully obey whatever You command, not try and take the easier path or excuse my behavior. In Jesus’ name, amen.

More Moments:

Moses was not allowed to enter into the Promised Land with the faithful generation. He would die... Read More

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