“So Moses did as he was told. He took the staff from the place where it was kept before the Lord. Then he and Aaron summoned the people to come and gather at the rock. “Listen, you rebels!” he shouted. “Must we bring you water from this rock?” Then Moses raised his hand and struck the rock twice with the staff, and water gushed out. So the entire community and their livestock drank their fill.” – Numbers 20:9-11.
If you asked people for the Bible characters that come to mind, Moses would certainly be among them. Moses 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 since the Israelites left Egypt. So why wasn’t Moses allowed to enter the promised land? In a word anger.
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. But 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 me enough to demonstrate my holiness to the people of Israel, you will not lead them into the land I am giving them!” When you know the story behind all of that it’s pretty hard to blame Moses for getting upset. These people were chronic complainers. Nothing could please them. Miracle after miracle was not enough and Moses had been extremely patient with them. But enough was enough and 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.
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. 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)
- How do you deal with anger? What is the typical outcome of your anger?
- 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?