Wait in the Wilderness – Water from a rock – Moses grieves God

AndyBible History2 Comments

Bible History – C. 1445-1407 BC

This is the famous period of the 40 years in the wilderness. When we read these chapters in the Book of Numbers we easily loose track of time. Although the Pentateuch follows a solid chronological order, the priority on its format was not historical. So it is easy to read 10 chapters that describe the incidents of one year and then one chapter in which 20 years go by in a blink so we always try to clearly emphasize on elapsed periods of time. The proposed dates are based on archaeological evidence and Rohl’s NewChronology models combined with the Biblical accounts.


Scripture: Numbers 18-20:1-13

Bible Timeline: Escape from Egypt – Wilderness – Joshua

Geography: Desert of Zin.

Biblical personalities: Moses, Eleazar.


Enhancing Authority

Authority only functions properly when we are properly submitted. Moses failed to be totally submitted by
departing from God’s perfect provision when he took on extra helpers, some of which not entirely trustworthy. Consequently, his own authority over the people dwindled and they followed Korah in revolt (c 1426 BC).
Subsequently Moses wisely re-established strict regulations and got the people focused back on the motions and discipline which had kept them safe until then (Numbers 17-18). Moses reminds the people that authority is a good thing and a gift from God. Authority brings freedom and not restriction.
Moses asserted the place of the Levite priests (headed by Eleazar) within the community and emphasizes tithing to them. The tithing is really the showing of honour to God but is must be done through the priests, who have spiritual authority over the people. God honors authority.

Submission to authority

Authority can be used for good or for bad, it can be used or abused. Heavenly authority is divinely given to provide blessings. God can and does bless anyone any way He wants but He reserves certain types of blessings for submission to authority.

With submission the spiritual leader comes protection. The Bible is honeycombed with examples of the results of submitting (or not) to the authority of God – directly and through the leaders He established. In fact, this is, arguably, the central theme of the Old Testament. Jesus himself speaks at length about this.

Matthew 12:50: For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother.

Matthew 7:21Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.

Jesus (God the son) himself served as an example of this by placing himself under God the Father.

Specific blessings of authority 1

Ezekiel 34 shows importance to be rightly connected to the church body and to receive a pastor, as your pastor. There are 10 blessings that we have just because we are submitted to a Pastor who loves us and is submitted to authority, like us:

  1. Peace
  2. Divine protection
  3. Showers of blessing
  4. Financial increase
  5. Yokes of bondage will be broken
  6. Deliver you from Believers who have mistreated you
  7. Deliver you from heathen that have mistreated you
  8. No fear
  9. Dramatic financial increase
  10. No shame, God will be with you and they shall know that He is the Lord God almighty!

Essential for the anointing

God created the model of authority. That is why He goes to such great detail about it in His word. It is all to benefit us, His creation. The anointing is the holy “oil” that the “machinery” of godly ministry works through. We all need it to accomplish what God had for us. Moses and all the prophets and leaders of Scripture clearly had it. That is how they did their miracles. The anointing is needed at all levels of ministry. The Apostle Paul, for instance, had Timothy under him but Peter over him. Authority is, most of all about preservation and about partaking of the anointing that flows downward. We need to be under authority no matter who we are because there needs to be an inflow of anointing for us to have an outflow of it. In essence, there is no good authority in the world anyway because it all falls short. So if God did not want us to learn about authority He wouldn’t have left us to live out our natural life before going to Heaven.  Submitting to authority is submitting to God.


Waters of Meribah

At the end of the period in the wilderness, around 1407 BC, the Bible records another instance where again God asked Moses to provide water from a rock. The first time had been before the Battle of Rephidim in Sinai four decades earlier. At that time God had asked Moses to strike the rock and water flowed out. Now, a year later, at Meribah, Moses again struck the rock two times with his staff however, this time, no water flowed out. The particulars of this episode often go unnoticed in Scripture studies.

This second instance God had instructed Moses to speak to the rock, not to strike it. It is well known that the Beduin have struck rocks in the desert and water had flowed from them. This is because there is sometimes years of calcified sediment over a source of water which, when broken by a staff, will release the water. Whether or not the first water from the rock at Rephidim was such a case it is irrelevant. What matters is that Moses did not follow God’s instructions to the letter. Also, there is the mild implication that it takes more faith to speak to a rock and produce water than to hit a rock.

The 40 years in the wilderness, dealing with an unhappy population on the verge of mutiny took a toll on Moses faith himself. We see, earlier, how the circumstances were already weighing on physical body. Now his emotions had begun responding. The great prophet had disregarded God’s instruction.

Why was God so grieved with Moses? 2

Moses had paid no notice and instead struck the rock as he had done before instead of speaking. This had lifelong repercussions for him: God did not allow him to go into the Promised Land, even though he had obeyed all other commands and had fought so hard during this migration. God is not mean. God is just.

There are 3 proposed reasons God was angry. Each reason is deeper:

  1. Moses disobeyed God.
  2. Striking the rock represented killing Jesus and thus striking it twice was killing Jesus twice (Hebrews 6).
  3. Moses failed to believe in the use of our “secret weapon”: the tongue.

Moses was one of the most faithful persons in the Bible, patient, long suffering leader. The violation was so grave that, just for that, God kept Moses out if the promised land.

Two strikes and out



This makes it clear that Jesus was that rock, even all the way back in Deuteronomy. The rock had been struck and wasn’t going to be struck twice. Jesus had already died and wasn’t going to die twice.

When Moses stuck the rock this meant that Moses did not set God aside aspowerful. God is speaking of holiness but this is the same as power. In other words, the power to forgive sins is the same as the power for all other miracles.

Jesus makes this connection when he says:

Luke 5:23-24: Whether is easier, to say, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Rise up and walk? [24] But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power upon earth to forgive sins, (he said unto the sick of the palsy,) I say unto thee, Arise, and take up thy couch, and go into thine house.

God was not showing His power by having water come out. He had already done that at Rephidim.  This time, 40 years later, for the first time, God was educating people about the power of the tongue; the power of faith. After knowing God up close for twice as long as the Hebrew people Moses did not believe that words were enough. The power was not the water, the power was the power of the tongue. God was teaching that when we speak, as He spoke the world into existence, miracles happen!

God is looking for a higher standard with our words. Even being in The New Covenant, if we don’t speak right we will be kept out of our “promised land”, meaning, out of our promises.

Warning for today

The difference between striking and speaking to the rock is so important that the Apostle Paul would later bring it up to admonish the church in Corinth (1 Corinthians 10:1-11) where he urges the church not to be ignorant of this history, pointing out that their ancestors were all under the cloud and all passed through the sea, being figuratively baptized into Moses. They all took the same spiritual nourishment from the spiritual rock that followed them. 3


The time spent in these barren deserts gave the people a chance to take stock of what they had done. This was probably the time were morale was the lowest. By this time the people had:
  1. Spent weeks grumbling since crossing the Red Sea;
  2. Rebelled against Moses;
  3. Not trusted God’s provisions;
  4. Taken actions in their own hands under their own steam, under the flesh, instead of God.
The Hebrew people chose the path that led to the walk in the wilderness. It was not God that condemned them to it. For us today, the church, in our present dispensation of grace, this is warning to keep our heart from evil. We should take this guideline very seriously: not to test or provoke God and not to grumble.

BIBLE HISTORY on LOCATION – the Wait in the Wilderness

Desert mountains



in the Wilderness of Zin


Wilderness of Paran


Southern Paran after sunset

[next time: “Victory at Hormah“]


Foundations of Jewish Life - Second Census - Jewish Calendar - Sacrificial Offerings - Jewish Feasts
Civilization in the Wilderness - First Census - Army of God - Canaan
  1. Notes taken from sermon: Craig Field, Promise of Life Church
  2. Notes taken from sermon: Craig Field, Promise of Life Church
  3. Allusion to a rock that physically followed the Hebrews in the Wilderness; recorded in Deuteronomy 1.

2 Comments on “Wait in the Wilderness – Water from a rock – Moses grieves God”

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