Striking the Rock

Scripture Passage: 
Numbers 20:1-29

INTRODUCTION: This lesson is filled with troubles and trials. The people continue to murmur against Moses and Aaron concerning a lack of water and the death of their brethren. It is also in this chapter where we find that Miriam and Aaron die and Moses rebels against the Lord. In the midst of all this, we find a wonderful picture of the Lord Jesus and His grace toward us.

  1. THE MURMURING OF THE CONGREGATION (Numbers 20:1-6)
    1. The People Abide in Kadesh (Numbers 20:1).
      1. The Israelites had already been in Kadesh and now they have returned (Numbers 12:16; Numbers 13:26).
      2. Kadesh was a place of great failure.
        1. The Israelites gave the evil report concerning the land of Canaan in Kadesh.
        2. Miriam died in Kadesh.
        3. Moses smote the rock in disobedience in Kadesh.
        4. Aaron died in Kadesh.
      3. Kadesh was also a place of great victory (Joshua 10:40-43).
    2. The People Murmur for Lack of Water (Numbers 20:2-5)
      1. The reason for the murmuring – no water (Numbers 20:2)
      2. The recipient of their murmuring
        1. Moses (Numbers 20:3)
        2. The LORD (Numbers 20:13)
      3. The reality of their murmuring
        1. Their marred viewpoint
          1. We wished we would have died when our brethren died.
            1. Could be a reference to the death of the spies (Numbers 14:37)
            2. Could be a reference to the death of Korah (Numbers 16)
          2. They think Moses is the reason they are in the wilderness.
        2. The truth
          1. They obviously could have followed in either of the above mentioned rebellions and received judgment from God. These people, however, must have kept their mouths shut at that point.
          2. They could have already been in possession of a land flowing with milk and honey, but they could not trust God enough.
    3. Moses and Aaron Go before the Lord (Numbers 20:6).
      1. They leave the presence of the assembly.
      2. They come to the door of the tabernacle.
      3. They fall on their faces before God (Numbers 14:5; Numbers 16:22, 45).
      4. The glory of the Lord appears to them (Numbers 14:10; Numbers 16:19, 42).
  2. THE SMITING OF THE ROCK (Numbers 20:7-11)
    1. The Command To Speak to the Rock (Numbers 20:7-8)
      1. Take the rod (Exodus 4:2 – consider the history of this rod).
      2. Gather the assembly together.
      3. Speak unto the rock before their eyes.
      4. It shall give forth water.
      5. Thou shalt bring forth to them water out of the rock.
      6. Thou shalt give the congregation and their beasts drink.
    2. The Disobedience of Moses and Aaron (Numbers 20:9-11)
      1. Moses took the rod as commanded (Numbers 20:9).
      2. Moses and Aaron gathered the congregation as commanded (Numbers 20:10, 8).
      3. Moses then exploded in anger at their rebellion (Numbers 20:10; Ephesians 4:26; Genesis 49:5-6).
      4. Moses smote the rock two times [totally destroying the typology] (Numbers 20:11).
      5. God in His grace remained faithful by giving the water (Numbers 20:11).
    3. Interesting Facts about this Rock
      1. The rock itself
        1. There must have been a certain rock.
        2. The scriptures address it as “the rock” (Exodus 17:6; Numbers 20:8, 11; Deuteronomy 8:15; Nehemiah 9:15; Psalm 78:15-16; Psalm 105:41; Psalm 114:8; Isaiah 48:21).
      2. The rock seemed to have followed them.
        1. In Exodus the rock is located in Horeb (Exodus 17:6).
        2. In Numbers the rock is located in Kadesh (Numbers 20:1, 14).
        3. The Bible says the rock followed them (1 Corinthians 10:4).
      3. The vastness of the water received from the rock
        1. The congregation drank and their beasts also (Numbers 20:11).
        2. Streams and rivers (Psalm 78:15-16; Psalm 105:41)
        3. Standing water or a fountain of waters (Psalm 114:8)
  3. THE JUDGMENT OF MOSES AND AARON (Numbers 20:12-13)
    1. The Sins of Moses and Aaron (Numbers 20:12)
      1. Disobedience (Numbers 20:11)
      2. Unbelief (Numbers 20:12)
      3. Rebellion (Numbers 27:14)
      4. The sin of the tongue (Psalm 106:32-33)
      5. Note: Moses was angry with the Israelites for their rebellion against God as seen in his question, “ye rebels; must we fetch you water out of this rock?” The very sin that he was angry over is the one that he committed here and is the sin which kept him from going into the land of promise.
    2. The Judgment on Moses and Aaron (Numbers 20:12; Deuteronomy 3:23-26)
    3. Called the water of Meribah (Numbers 20:13)
      1. Because the people strove with the Lord; Meribah means strife.
      2. The place where God was sanctified in His people
  4. THE CONFRONTATION WITH EDOM (Numbers 20:14-21)
    1. Israel Requests To Pass by the King’s Highway (Numbers 20:14-17).
      1. Moses sends messengers to the king of Edom (Numbers 20:14).
      2. Edom the brother of Israel (Numbers 20:14)
        1. The Edomites are descendants of Esau (Genesis 25:30; Genesis 36:1, 9).
        2. The Israelites are descendants of Jacob (Genesis 32:28).
        3. Jacob and Esau were brothers.
      3. The plea for pity (Numbers 20:14-16)
        1. Our past bondage
          1. You know all of the travail that has befallen us.
          2. Our fathers went down into Egypt.
          3. We have been there a long time.
          4. They vexed us and our fathers.
          5. We cried unto the Lord.
          6. He heard us and delivered us.
        2. Our present position
          1. Now we are in Kadesh.
          2. A city in the uttermost of thy border
      4. Israel’s first request for passage (Numbers 20:17)
    2. Edom Threatens War if They Try to Pass (Numbers 20:18-21).
      1. Edom’s refusal of Israel’s request (Numbers 20:18; Genesis 25:21-26).
      2. Israel’s second request for passage (Numbers 20:19; Deuteronomy 2:4-6).
      3. Edom’s hostile refusal of Israel’s request (Numbers 20:20-21).
  5. THE DEATH OF AARON (Numbers 20:22-29)
    1. The Congregation Comes to Mount Hor (Numbers 20:22).
      1. The whole congregation journeys.
      2. From Kadesh to Mount Hor
      3. Mount Hor is by the coast of the land of Edom (Numbers 20:23).
    2. Aaron’s Priestly Garments Are Put on Eleazar (Numbers 20:23-28).
      1. Pronouncement of Aaron’s death (Numbers 20:23-24)
        1. Aaron shall be gathered unto his people.
          1. Aaron was not going to be buried with his parents, sister or brother.
          2. What does it mean that he was going to be gathered unto his people?
          3. Consider those who were to be gathered unto their people or the fathers:
            1. Abraham (Genesis 25:8)
            2. Ishmael (Genesis 25:17)
            3. Isaac (Genesis 35:29)
            4. Jacob (Genesis 49:33) – not buried until Genesis 50:13
            5. Aaron (Numbers 20:24)
            6. Moses (Deuteronomy 32:50)
            7. The people who served the Lord the days of Joshua (Judges 2:10)
            8. Josiah (2 Kings 22:20)
          4. Consider the end of the gathering unto the people (Genesis 49:10).
        2. He shall not enter the land.
        3. He was alongside of Moses.
      2. The passing of the garments (Numbers 20:25-28)
        1. Eleazar to take over the work.
        2. Strip Aaron of his garments.
        3. Put them upon Eleazar.
    3. Aaron Dies and the People Mourn (Numbers 20:29).
      1. The congregation sees that Aaron is dead.
      2. Aaron dies at the age of 123 (Numbers 33:39).
      3. They mourn for him thirty days.

CONCLUSION: Rebellion always leads to a miserable end. People never change; the rebellious heart of the Israelites abides in us today. Will we learn from their failures? Will we trust the Lord as we ought?

David Reagan and Andrew Ray

Daily Proverb

Proverbs 19:24

A slothful man hideth his hand in his bosom, and will not so much as bring it to his mouth again.