So Moses took the staff from the Lord’s presence, just as he commanded him. He and Aaron gathered the assembly together in front of the rock and Moses said to them, “Listen, you rebels, must we bring you water out of this rock?” Then Moses raised his arm and struck the rock twice with his staff. Water gushed out, and the community and their livestock drank.” – Numbers 20:9-11.

One of the first people you think about in the Old Testament is Moses. Moses is mentioned 772 times in 710 verses in the Old Testament. And he is mentioned in 79 verses in the New Testament. Those numbers are second only to David. Moses is revered in the Bible. He had a front row seat to the signs and wonders God performed against Pharaoh, including the parting of the Red Sea. He received the 10 commandments from God on Mt Sinai. Moses protected, guided, taught, encouraged, rebuked, prayed for and was responsible for an entire nation through the good times, bad times and all the times in between.

So why didn’t Moses get to enter into the promised land? In chapter 20 of Numbers, Moses is attempting to lead the people of Israel through a desert, there is little to no water to drink and the people and the animals are all very thirsty. Moses goes to God and asks for help and God responds with a specific set of instructions with a limited number of steps: Take your rod; get your brother Aaron; gather the people before the rock, speak to the rock, give everyone a drink.

In Numbers 20 Moses lost his temper and struck the rock twice even though God had told him to simply speak to the rock. That act of anger cost Moses dearly. Numbers 20:12 says, “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.” When you know the story behind all of that it’s pretty hard to blame Moses for getting upset. These people had murmured and complained the whole time. Nothing could please them. Miracle after miracle was not enough and Moses had been extremely patient with them. So he reached his breaking point and flew off the handle.

Rather than fully trusting God to handle the situation, Moses took matters into his own hands. When we try to fix situations ourselves rather than trust God to fix them we are prone to become frustrated and angry. It was not just the immediate frustration that got to Moses. It was the continual dripping of their complaining.

We all get angry. It’s unavoidable. There’s really no way to not get angry. Anger doesn’t want you to pause, it demands a reaction. It wants you to throw caution to the wind; say what you want to say and do what you feel like doing. The key is to deal with your anger…appropriately. When you detect anger in yourself, slow down, step back, zip up the lips and take control of your mind. Take some time to think about where your anger is coming from. What is causing anger in you? What started it? Also reflect on the consequences of your anger. What damage will you do to yourself and others if you let it go unchecked.

Then turn your disappointments, offenses, frustrations and hurts and the anger they cause over to God. Determine that you will do whatever is necessary to make sure that anger doesn’t control you. Forgive people. Accept disappointments and delays patiently, trusting God’s plan and timing. Try to let it go.

“Stop being angry! Turn from your rage! Do not lose your temper – it only leads to harm.” – Psalm 37:8.” (NLT)

Discussion Question:

  1. Despite his years of service, Moses’ disobedience and anger kept him from entering the promised land. Do you agree with the punishment? What does this teach you about God’s expectations for leadership?
  2. How do you deal with anger? What is the typical outcome of your anger?
  3. What is the difference between anger and aggression in your mind?
  4. Proverbs 14:29 says: “Whoever is slow to anger has great understanding, but he who has a hasty temper exalts folly.” What does that verse mean to you?
  5. Pray and ask God to help you control your anger.