John W. Godfrey Jr


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   Striking the Rock But Missing the Mark
by Immanuel Baptist Church on 

Numbers 20:11 can be counted as one of the magnificent miracles of provision that God performed for the Children of Israel during the ministry of Moses.  In this verse, we see the mighty power of God demonstrated by supernaturally suppling water out of the rock in the midst of the wilderness.  This was no small task!  Some have calculated that it would take a minimum of eleven million gallons of water each day just for the Israelites and their flocks to have enough drinking water.  This calculation does not even account for the gallons of water that would be needed for bathing.  Eleven million gallons could fill a train of tanker cars 1800 miles long!  No one can argue with the miraculous nature of this event.  No one could even begin to suggest that Moses produced the water by his own might.  No! This miracle was the act of God.  It was the blessing of God.  It was the supernatural provision of God.  Moreover, this miracle took place during the ministry of Moses.  In fact, if we were not privy to the behind the scenes context of this passage then based on the supernatural results we would conclude that God was pleased with Moses.  Sadly, nothing was further from the truth.  Yes, this event was a mighty miracle from God, but God was not using Moses. Nor was He pleased by Moses’s actions.  This chapter teaches us a valuable principle about God and His works with regards to our perception of blessing and reward. 

Miraculous, supernatural results are not always proof of God’s approval.

Understand, Christian, that God can do miraculous works not because of us, but in spite of us.  God was going to provide for His chosen people.  He was not going to forsake them to the misery of wilderness dehydration.  God loved His people and had promised to provide for them not because their actions merited it but because of the character of His divine nature.  The revelation of God’s heart is communicated in verse 12.  God condemned and severely punished Moses for his actions.  God’s condemnation of Moses consisted of two indictments.

First, Moses’s actions were in direct disobedience to the Word of God, and were a result of a lack of faith. (Because ye believed me not, - Num.20:12)  Moses chose in rebellion to strike the rock instead of speaking to it.  Moses relied on his previous experience and used a familiar method instead of obeying God’s Word.  He struck the rock because He failed to believe God.  In reality, Moses chose to perform God’s work his own way and demonstrated the same lack of faith before the rock that the congregation of Israel demonstrated at the banks of the Jordan River when they turned back with an evil heart of unbelief. 

The second indictment by God against Moses was that Moses failed to sanctify (to set apart, consecrate) God in the eyes of the people. (Num.20:12)  Just prior to Moses’s rebellious actions, Moses and Aaron gathered the people together In verse 10 and declared “Hear now, ye rebels; must we fetch you water out of this rock?”  Moses provoked the anger of God because he promoted himself and Aaron as the instruments of deliverance.  Moses took credit for the provision of water as though it was by his hand that the water would be “fetched”.  The glory of the miracle belonged to God.  If Moses had obeyed and spoken to the rock then the people would have witnessed the power of God and would have glorified God alone.  Because Moses employed the theatrics of striking the rock, His actions stole the glory that belonged to God.

God’s punishment for Moses and Aaron was that they were prohibited from entering into the Promised Land.  They lost the privilege and honor of their inheritance.  They forfeited their reward.  They in essence received the same sentence of exile as the rebellious congregation that they were leading.  Moses and Aaron were now doomed to wander in the wilderness until the unbelieving generation died.  God was so displeased that He revealed His judgment immediately after their actions.  Moses would see the Promised Land from afar but he would never experience it in his earthly ministry.


God was displeased with Moses and Aaron for their faithless rebellion and stolen glory, but He still supernaturally allowed water to flow from the rock.  Both the method and motivation of Moses’s action were ungodly and sinful, yet God still performed a miracle.  So what are the lessons that we as preachers/leaders/Christians can learn from this passage?


1.      Supernatural results do not necessarily validate methodology or motivation.


Just because you see people get saved or you see God provide miraculously does not mean that God has automatically sanctioned your methods or your motives. 


2.      True success is determined by God and not by the optics of results.


Despite the external appearance, Moses and Aaron had not pleased God.  In the eyes of man, their ministry was a success, but in the eyes of God, they stood guilty before God and in condemnation.  Those who men applaud because of results may one day stand ashamed before Christ at the Judgement Seat.  Just as Moses and Aaron lost their reward, so you and I will lose our reward if we live in disobedience to the Word of God.


3.      Disobedience to the Word of God will never please God even if it seems to produce supernatural results.


The end never justifies the means!  God may work because of His love for people and because His Word will never return void, but understand that disobedience to the Word of God will never be rewarded.  Methods do matter to God-- just ask Uzzah!


4.      The glory, consecration, and holiness of God must be preeminent in our methods and motives.


God will never share His glory.  Our ministries must always sanctify God in the eyes of the people.  The motivation of ministry must always be to glorify God, to lift high the cause of Christ, and to honor the King of Heaven.  If ministry is accomplished with any other motivation, then it is nothing but wood, hay, and stubble.  God is never glorified by sin or unrighteous methods.  God is never honored by worldly techniques and carnal practices.  If God is not sanctified in people’s eyes then He is not pleased.


There are many young preachers today that have bought into the erroneous ideology that results (even supernatural ones) are the “be all end all”.  Disobedience to the Word of God is excused and self-promoting motivation is accepted as long as people are getting saved and God is “blessing”.  Friend, do not be deceived!  God may be working miraculously around you because He is good, merciful, and not willing that any should perish - not because He is pleased with your methods and motivations.  How sad it would be to stand before Christ and realize that God was working in spite of you rather than through you.  The ultimate goal of every Christian should be to hear “well done”.


Copyright – February 20, 2019

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