Most of us reading this will immediately think of Genesis 1:26-27, “Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness;.. God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” This is definitely one of the foundational beliefs of our faith. However, it does not make us a child of God.
In God’s everlasting, unending love He gave us free will to make our own decisions, to choose right and wrong, to live in covenant with Him or to serve other gods. Other gods can be idols or addictions, TV, hobbies, interests that we put before God Almighty. He still loves us, even when we make the wrong choices, but because of that love, He also brings judgment and each of us will be held accountable for the choices we have made. “He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.” (John 3:36)
The heart of man is a very complicated matter. Jeremiah reminded us, “The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9) God is the only One who can understand our deceitful hearts and sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to become flesh among us, live as we live, teach the Word of God to bring God’s truth to us, and then to die the most horrendous death possible to pay for the sins of every single one of us. It is only through the blood of Jesus Christ that we can be saved and washed clean of our filth and shame. “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace”. (Ephesians 1:7) “Jesus *said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.’ ” (John 14:6)
So, many of us reading this will say “I am a child of God”, or “I am the bride of Christ”. But are we really living as such? Could we be acting more like rebellious teenagers than heirs to the King? In my devotions this morning I was again reading about the Israelites. God chose them to be His! However, God often referred to them as “stiffnecked” because of their untrusting, unbelieving, rebellious hearts. They moaned and groaned and complained about EVERYTHING. Only after God gave them what they wanted did they praise Him, and by three days later they had completely forgotten His faithfulness and love and were back to the same old ways. They continued to worship other gods the entire journey and none of them except Joshua and Caleb got to enter the Promised Land. Even Moses who was so faithful and interceded constantly for God not to destroy the people, was not allowed to enter because of one action out of anger and disobedience.
I believe it is important that we seriously look at this word and use it as a standard for our own lives. The Israelites are in the desert and complaining they are going to die because they don’t have water. Moses and Aaron went to the tent of meeting and fell on their faces and the glory of the Lord appeared to them. (Numbers 20:1-6) “and the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, ‘Take the rod; and you and your brother Aaron assemble the congregation and speak to the rock before their eyes, that it may yield its water. You shall thus bring forth water for them out of the rock and let the congregation and their beasts drink.’ ” (Numbers 20:7-8) Good so far? God’s glory brought God’s mercy and grace.
“So Moses took the rod from before the LORD, just as He had commanded him; and Moses and Aaron gathered the assembly before the rock. And he said to them, ‘Listen now, you rebels; shall we bring forth water for you out of this rock?’ ” (Numbers 20:9-10)
There are two major problems in verses 9 and 10 that we need to understand. First of all, Moses still has a bad attitude against the Israelites and addresses them in anger calling them rebels. Was that a true statement? Absolutely! Had God commanded Moses to correct or rebuke them? NO! Moses was tired and fed up with their bad attitude and hadn’t let it go even though he was just in the presence of the Lord and was now going to be the vessel God would use to be glorified! But God had not spoken any judgment, He spoke with compassion.
Brothers and sisters, does that strike a cord? It’s a good reminder for me. Oh, how easy it is to take an offense and carry it around! That resentment colors every thought and action and does not bring glory to God. It usually does the opposite, it is one of the reasons that the unbelievers call believers “hypocrites”. We may say the right words but we don’t say them in love or with the right attitude. I’ve been there where circumstances have so frustrated me that I wasn’t able to cover my feelings. People were not drawn to Christ through my actions, they wanted to get away as fast as they could! My words or actions said that I also wanted to get out of there as fast as I could! (We need to be honest about the whole effect we have on people if we are going to allow God to transform us into the image of His Son (Romans 8:29). The image of Christ is the Fruit of the Spirit! That is how we truly witness or proclaim the power of the gospel, in what is seen in us.
This wrong heart attitude came pouring out of Moses’ mouth and gives us a vivid picture of his heart. Read the following closely. I put the one word in bold, underlined it and made it larger so you wouldn’t miss it. “shall we bring forth water for you out of this rock?” Who is going to produce the water? Moses just took God’s glory upon himself!
Seriously, loved ones, think of the times you have felt like “you had to do everything because no one else would do it”. Or, “do I have to do everything around here?” Psalm 26:2 reminds us to, “Examine me, O LORD, and try me; test my mind and my heart.” Psalm 139:23-24 states, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me and know my anxious thoughts; and see if there be any hurtful way in me, and lead me in the everlasting way.” It is so easy to get caught up in the circumstances and events of our lives and get overwhelmed. I am so thankful that God is so faithful to restore us when we come to Him in our humility and transparency for His evaluation and correction.
“Then Moses lifted up his hand and struck the rock twice with his rod; and water came forth abundantly, and the congregation and their beasts drank. But the LORD said to Moses and Aaron, ‘Because you have not believed Me, to treat Me as holy in the sight of the sons of Israel, therefore you shall not bring this assembly into the land which I have given them.’ ” (Numbers 20:11-12)
We see the outcome of Moses’ attitude here as he strikes the rock twice! God told him to speak to the rock. Moses struck the rock! Twice signifies violent anger. “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.” (Ephesians 4:31) Anger is the state of mind desiring vengeance. The Lord warns us in Romans 12:19, "Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, 'Vengeance is Mine, I will repay.' says the Lord." We are told that we are not to grieve the Holy Spirit of God (Ephesians 4:30) and to put these things away from us. We must give it to the Lord and let Him deal with it.
“for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure. Do all things without grumbling or disputing; so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world,” (Philippians 2:13-15)
Look at the outcome for the sin which Moses committed, “therefore you shall not bring this assembly into the land which I have given them”. Why was this disobedience such as offense to God? The Rock of our salvation is Jesus Christ! What we see here is a “type and shadow” of Jesus Christ who is living water. When Moses struck the rock, he struck Jesus, our rock, in the spiritual realm. David praised God in the following Psalm, he was also prophesying to the coming of the Messiah, “I love You, O LORD, my strength. The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge; my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.” (Psalm 18:1-2) And the Apostle Paul spoke clearly that Jesus the Rock was with the Israelites in the wilderness (I Corinthians 10:1-3). "Moreover, brethren, I do not want you to be unaware that all of our fathers were under the cloud, all passed through the sea, all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, all ate the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank of that spiritual rock that followed them, and that rock was Christ."
As the Lord has lead me to learn a great lesson from Moses, did not Paul the Apostle tell us to learn a lesson from our Hebrew forefathers in I Corinthians 10:5-12? I urge you to stop and read that portion.
Paul spoke of dying daily in the following passage, "I affirm, brethren, by the boasting in you which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily. "(1 Corinthians 15:31) How do we do that? By saying NO to the urge the sin, flesh, old nature is pressing us to do. We are to turn our eyes immediately on Jesus. (Hebrews 12:2)
The Apostle Paul summarizes the will of God for us very clearly in the following verses, “Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Romans 12:1-2)
The Apostle Paul asks us this question in Romans 6:2, “How shall we who died to sin still live in it?” I believe that question is the question the Holy Spirit is asking today, “Who are you?”. Have you died to sin? As you study the scriptures you will learn that a true believer has died “to sin” but will “sin” by missing the mark at times because we are not perfect. When we sin, we quickly make it right, repent and turn away with the intent of never returning to that sin again. But if the life of one who states they are a believer, but yet is still enmeshed in sin as a daily part of their life, nothing has changed. I would hope that this word would turn us to God to search our hearts and see where the root problem is and be willing to die to ourselves.
When the Lord gave me my life verse, I knew that drastic changes were going to need to be made in me, but I loved Him so much that I was willing to consecrate myself and become pliable in His hand. Little did I know or understand the trials that I would face. I had to continuously look unto Jesus, the author and finisher of my faith in order to go on each day. Here is my life’s verse: “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.” (Galatians 2:20) That is the desire of God for each of us and it is a daily intimate walk with Him. It’s not easy, it is uncomfortable and it will break down every stronghold you have believed in. But it is so worth it! The truth is, we will never fully reach the goal while on this earth, but we should be pressing toward the goal every day by submitting ourselves to God. (Philippians 3:14)
I want to encourage you with a few words from Paul’s letter to the Romans as we end this time together today.
“Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; for he who has died is freed from sin. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, is never to die again; death no longer is master over Him. For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its lusts, and do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God.” (Romans 6:3-13)
How do we consider ourselves dead to sin? The definition of "dead or death" means to be separated from. Upon physical death the soul separates from the body and that is referred to the "first death" or "separation". The second death is found in Revelation 20 where death and hell (for unbelievers) are cast into the lake of fire. This is the same process that we are to use in "dying to self" as anger or other sin tries to overcome us! As we look unto Jesus we are reminded that we are separated unto Christ and that old nature is not in control because Jesus Christ is the LORD of our lives!
Almighty God, thank You for this reminder today. Each of us may not serve in a great position as Your servant Moses, but Your love and instructions are not based upon positions of importance, but on each one equally as an heir to Your throne! Open the eyes of our hearts to truly understand that we are as Moses in that we are called to be salt and light to the world (Matthew 5:13-16). May we remember that it is against You, and You only that we have sinned and done evil in Your sight. You are right to judge me (Psalm 51:4) and I thank You for Your love that covers me and protects me that You would care for me dearly and not allow me to continue in the evil ways! Thank You that You admonish me to walk the narrow way (Matthew 7:13-14). I love You Abba and bow my knee in reverence and awe for the blood of Jesus Christ which washed me clean. Thank You, Lord Jesus, for being my Advocate. Thank You, Holy Spirit for teaching me, convicting me, and guiding me in the righteous way. I pray all this in the blessed name of Jesus Christ! Amen.