Exodus 17:4 And Moses cried unto the LORD, saying, What shall I do unto this people? they be almost ready to stone me.
5 And the LORD said unto Moses, Go on before the people, and take with thee of the elders of Israel; and thy rod, wherewith thou smotest the river, take in thine hand, and go.
6 Behold, I will stand before thee there upon the rock in Horeb; and thou shalt smite the rock, and there shall come water out of it, that the people may drink. And Moses did so in the sight of the elders of Israel.
7 And he called the name of the place Massah, and Meribah, because of the chiding of the children of Israel, and because they tempted the LORD, saying, Is the LORD among us, or not?
I suppose everyone that is reading this has heard of the car that was involved in an incident at the Rainbow Bridge at Niagara Falls, yesterday. The car was destroyed and the two people in it died. At first it was reported that this was a terrorist attack. Apparently the officials said they had never seen a vehicle disintegrate in this fashion without there being explosives involved. After about an hour, they “walked back” that statement and since then most reports have downplayed the matter to a traffic incident. There is some information available that I am not prepared to share at this time, but we will see how this develops. We want to keep people informed of what is going on and how it fits with God’s Word. We do not want to be guilty of spinning stories for the “thrill factor”. We do need to pray for those involved around this incident.
We are continuing our study of the false doctrine of “second chances”. I want to be clear that I do believe that God forgives repentant sinners. Adam did not physically die the moment he ate the forbidden fruit. Cain did not die the moment he made a wrong offering and then later murdered his brother. Adam died spiritually the moment he sinned and his body began dying at that moment as well. Cain was already spiritually dead and his body too was dying as we all are due to sin. Skin cells are dying and being replaced all the time. Children develop baby teeth which fall out and they receive their permanent teeth. We all lose hair on a daily basis. These are things that began to take place as the result of Adam’s sin.
As we have mentioned, forgiveness does not mean there are no consequences for sin. Adam and Eve were driven out of the Garden due to their sin. They were naked before the LORD due to their sin. An animal needed to be killed and the blood shed as an atonement for their sin. The skin of the animal was needed to make coats for Adam and Eve. Things drastically changed with the fall. Those things will never come back. Heaven will be a better place than the Garden was. However, in Heaven those who will be there will be reminded that we are there due to the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ. His wounds will be visible to all that are in Heaven. We will not mourn His sacrifice, but we will be grateful for His sacrifice that alone made it possible for us to be in Heaven.
In our text, Moses was God’s chosen leader for the nation of Israel. He was not elected. He was appointed by God. That is a reminder of the “Theocracy” under which God designed the world to function. Democracy is certainly not an improvement on God’s design. It is a major flaw that many have been brainwashed into believing is a good thing.
Moses was chosen to lead the nation of Israel out of Egyptian bondage. He was directed by God to demonstrate to the nation of Israel and the nation of Egypt that He is the LORD. The Egyptians suffered greatly for rejecting that fact. Israel stubbornly refused to believe that fact as well.
The context of our verses was in the early days of Israel’s time on the other side of the Red Sea. They were no longer in Egyptian bondage. They were in bondage to their own sinful nature. A few believed in the true God, but most were stuck in their unbelief. God tested them from time to time to give them opportunity to repent and trust in Him. God keeps the ungodly off balance and He uses that to show them their need to turn to Him. Moses was directed by God to constantly remind the people of their need to turn to the true God.
Moses’ task was not an “easy” task. However, it was a task he could handle in the power of the LORD.
In our text, the people were upset because they had no water. This was not their first encounter with this problem. God wanted them to trust Him to provide them with water. This was a picture of the fact that He is the true water they need. This would be revealed further and the Lord Jesus Christ would reveal that He is the source of living water.
The people did not have much tolerance for life. They were quite quick to want to kill Moses. They were also quite quick to want to go back to Egypt. They were willing to put up with all the suffering they had in Egypt, so long as they could have some of the “comforts” they had back there. Of course that would only be true until they were actually back in that bondage again. Keep in mind that they had been crying to the LORD while in bondage. They wanted deliverance from that.
Moses cried out to the LORD in this current situation and God instructed him on the solution. There was a particular rock he needed to take the people to and he needed to strike that rock and God would give water for all the people and all the livestock from that rock.
Moses believed God and he did as he was told and God miraculously gave water for the people. After that the nation faced an attack from Amalek. God not only blessed them with water, but He also blessed them with victory over Amalek.
Water is something that we need on a daily basis. We cannot survive long without water. God tested the nation several times with the need for water. In Numbers 20 we read of another time Israel was in need of water. They again came to Moses, demanding that he provide them with water. Moses again went to the LORD and the LORD instructed him with the solution.
Numbers 20:10 And Moses and Aaron gathered the congregation together before the rock, and he said unto them, Hear now, ye rebels; must we fetch you water out of this rock?
11 And Moses lifted up his hand, and with his rod he smote the rock twice: and the water came out abundantly, and the congregation drank, and their beasts also.
12 And the LORD spake unto Moses and Aaron, Because ye believed me not, to sanctify me in the eyes of the children of Israel, therefore ye shall not bring this congregation into the land which I have given them.
This time, Moses was to take the people to the rock and speak to the rock and God would give them water. God gave specific instructions to Moses. Moses was frustrated with the people. He was angry with them. He heard what the LORD said, but he chose to act on his emotions. God gave water out of the rock, but God also addressed Moses and Aaron regarding their disobedience. Neither of them would be able to enter the promised land due to this sin. There was no second chance offered to them. We know that Moses understood his sin. He knew he had done wrong. He later pleaded with God to change His mind on this matter. In Deuteronomy 3 God rebuked Moses on this matter.
Deuteronomy 3:26 But the LORD was wroth with me for your sakes, and would not hear me: and the LORD said unto me, Let it suffice thee; speak no more unto me of this matter.
Moses knew God meant what He said. Moses knew this was an important command that must be obeyed. Moses chose to ignore the important lesson God was seeking to bring to bear upon the people and the result was an attempt to corrupt God’s plan of salvation. Moses, unintentionally, but not innocently, assisted the Catholics and other pagan religions in their heretical teaching.
Jesus Christ went to the cross once. He suffered and died once for our sins. He shed His blood once for our sins. In order for anyone to be forgiven and saved, that person must come to God and pray to God for forgiveness and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation. The Work of salvation was completed by the Lord Jesus in His one sacrifice. Moses spoiled that picture and that act needed the necessary punishment.
Salvation is an important and necessary gift of God. There is only One Way of Salvation. All people needed to know this. No one will ever be saved by works. No one can “re-crucify” the Lord Jesus Christ. He is seated on the right hand of His Father in glory today. The repentant sinner must turn to God by faith and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation.
Moses’ burst of anger spoiled that picture. By God’s mercy and grace, we can see that Moses spoiled the picture, but he did not spoil the truth the picture was to paint. We can know that salvation is by faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ. We do not need to re-enact that work. We do not need a cross to bow before. We do not need a wafer to swallow to make us clean.
The Lord’s Supper is a God-designed picture that is symbolic of the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ. It does not substitute for Jesus Christ. It does not save anyone.
Moses missed a blessing due to his emotional outburst. He could not go back and re-do that moment. He could be forgiven, but he also needed to suffer the consequences for that sin. There was no second chance.
God’s Word is clear. Pastors need to preach and teach God’s Word carefully. They need to remind people of the truth. Pastors do not help anyone when they twist God’s Word to suit the “sensitivity” of the people. Hell will be a stark wake-up for the many who are too proud to hear and believe the truth. Be sure you trust in the truth and that you also teach the truth to others.