1. GOD SUPPLIES ALL NEEDS
a. How were the Israelites supplied with water during their wilderness wanderings? Psalm 105:41; Isaiah 48:21.
“From the smitten rock in Horeb first flowed the living stream that refreshed Israel in the desert. During all their wanderings, wherever the need existed, they were supplied with water by a miracle of God’s mercy. The water did not, however, continue to flow from Horeb. Wherever in their journeyings they wanted water, there from the clefts of the rock it gushed out beside their encampment.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 411.
b. Who was the source of all their temporal as well as spiritual blessings? 1 Corinthians 10:4.
“[Christ] is the source of all power, the giver of all temporal and spiritual blessings. He employs human beings as coworkers, giving them a part to act with Him as His helping hand. We are to receive from Him, not to hoard for self-gratification, but to impart to others.”—The Review and Herald, April 4, 1907.
2. THE FAITH OF THE PEOPLE TESTED
a. What trial of faith did the people of God have when they again came to Kadesh, and what was their reaction? Numbers 20:1–5.
“Just before the Hebrew host reached Kadesh, the living stream ceased that for so many years had gushed out beside their encampment. It was the Lord’s purpose again to test His people. He would prove whether they would trust His providence or imitate the unbelief of their fathers.”— Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 413.
“Before God permitted them to enter Canaan, they must show that they believed His promise. The water ceased before they had reached Edom. Here was an opportunity for them, for a little time, to walk by faith instead of sight. But the first trial developed the same turbulent, unthankful spirit that had been manifested by their fathers. No sooner was the cry for water heard in the encampment than they forgot the hand that had for so many years supplied their wants, and instead of turning to God for help, they murmured against Him.”—Ibid., p. 414.
b. What did Moses and Aaron do when they heard the complaints of the people? Numbers 20:6.
c. What were Moses and Aaron directed to do to satisfy the needs of the people? Numbers 20:7, 8. What mistaken idea, still cherished by the people, was the Lord trying to correct?
“In all their wanderings, the children of Israel were tempted to attribute to Moses the special work of God, the mighty miracles that had been wrought to deliver them from Egyptian bondage. They charged Moses with bringing them out of the land of Egypt. It was true that God had manifested Himself wonderfully to Moses. He had specially favored him with His presence. To him God had revealed His exceeding glory. Upon the mount He had taken him into a sacred nearness to Himself, and had talked with him as a man speaks to a friend. But the Lord had given evidence after evidence that it was He Himself who was working for their deliverance.”—The SDA Bible Commentary [E. G. White Comments], vol. 1, pp. 1115, 1116.
3. MOSES AND AARON FAIL
a. How did Moses dishonor God when addressing the people? Numbers 20:9–11.
“By his rash act Moses took away the force of the lesson that God purposed to teach. The rock, being a symbol of Christ, had been once smitten, as Christ was to be once offered. The second time it was needful only to speak to the rock, as we have only to ask for blessings in the name of Jesus. By the second smiting of the rock the significance of this beautiful figure of Christ was destroyed.
“More than this, Moses and Aaron had assumed power that belongs only to God. The necessity for divine interposition made the occasion one of great solemnity, and the leaders of Israel should have improved it to impress the people with reverence for God and to strengthen their faith in His power and goodness. When they angrily cried, ‘Must we fetch you water out of this rock?’ they put themselves in God’s place, as though the power lay with themselves, men possessing human frailties and passions.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 418.
b. What punishment did Moses and Aaron bring upon themselves? Why? Numbers 20:12; Deuteronomy 3:23–27.
“God did not on this occasion pronounce judgments upon those whose wicked course had so provoked Moses and Aaron. All the reproof fell upon the leaders. . . . Moses and Aaron had felt themselves aggrieved, losing sight of the fact that the murmuring of the people was not against them but against God. It was by looking to themselves, appealing to their own sympathies, that they unconsciously fell into sin, and failed to set before the people their great guilt before God.
“Bitter and deeply humiliating was the judgment immediately pronounced. . . . With rebellious Israel they must die before the crossing of the Jordan.”—Ibid., pp. 418, 419.
“The transgression was known to the whole congregation; and had it been passed by lightly, the impression would have been given that unbelief and impatience under great provocation might be excused in those in responsible positions. But when it was declared that because of that one sin Moses and Aaron were not to enter Canaan, the people knew that God is no respecter of persons, and that He will surely punish the transgressor.”—Ibid., p. 420.
4. THE SMITTEN ROCK, A TYPE
a. Of whom was the smitten rock a type, and why was it wrong to smite the rock again? Isaiah 53:3–5.
“The smitten rock was a figure of Christ, and through this symbol the most precious spiritual truths are taught. As the life-giving waters flowed from the smitten rock, so from Christ, ‘smitten of God,’ ‘wounded for our transgressions,’ ‘bruised for our iniquities’ (Isaiah 53:4, 5), the stream of salvation flows for a lost race. As the rock had been once smitten, so Christ was to be ‘once offered to bear the sins of many.’ Hebrews 9:28. Our Saviour was not to be sacrificed a second time; and it is only necessary for those who seek the blessings of His grace to ask in the name of Jesus, pouring forth the heart’s desire in penitential prayer. Such prayer will bring before the Lord of hosts the wounds of Jesus, and then will flow forth afresh the life-giving blood, symbolized by the flowing of the living water for Israel.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 411.
b. On what occasion and how was the flowing of water from the rock celebrated by the Jewish people in the days of Christ? John 7:37–39.
“The flowing of the water from the rock in the desert was celebrated by the Israelites, after their establishment in Canaan, with demonstrations of great rejoicing. In the time of Christ this celebration had become a most impressive ceremony. It took place on the occasion of the Feast of Tabernacles, when the people from all the land were assembled at Jerusalem. On each of the seven days of the feast the priests went out with music and the choir of Levites to draw water in a golden vessel from the spring of Siloam. They were followed by multitudes of the worshipers, as many as could get near the stream drinking of it, while the jubilant strains arose, ‘With joy shall ye draw water out of the wells of salvation.’ Isaiah 12:3. Then the water drawn by the priests was borne to the temple amid the sounding of trumpets and the solemn chant, ‘Our feet shall stand within thy gates, O Jerusalem.’ Psalm 122:2. The water was poured out upon the altar of burnt offering, while songs of praise rang out, the multitudes joining in triumphant chorus with musical instruments and deep-toned trumpets.”—Ibid., p. 412.
5. A LESSON FOR US
a. What lesson should we learn from the mistake of Moses? Psalm 106:33.
“Moses was not guilty of a great crime, as men would view the matter; his sin was one of common occurrence. The psalmist says that ‘he spake unadvisedly with his lips.’ Psalm 106:33. To human judgment this may seem a light thing; but if God dealt so severely with this sin in His most faithful and honored servant, He will not excuse it in others. . . . The more important one’s position, and the greater his influence, the greater is the necessity that he should cultivate patience and humility.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 420.
b. What warnings are calculated to keep us from self-exaltation? James 4:6, 7; 1 Corinthians 10:12.
“However great one’s spiritual light, however much he may enjoy of the divine favor and blessing, he should ever walk humbly before the Lord, pleading in faith that God will direct every thought and control every impulse. . . .
“However great the pressure brought to bear upon the soul, transgression is our own act. It is not in the power of earth or hell to compel anyone to do evil. Satan attacks us at our weak points, but we need not be overcome. However severe or unexpected the assault, God has provided help for us, and in His strength we may conquer.”—Ibid., p. 421.
PERSONAL REVIEW QUESTIONS
1. How did God supply water for the Israelites as they traveled? How does He supply our needs today?
2. How did the people react when God tested their faith? What about me?
3. Where was the focus of Moses and Aaron when they failed? Where is my focus, and what will the result be?
4. How was the beautiful lesson of the smitten Rock ruined by Moses?
5. How can I be kept safe from self-exaltation?