Numbers 20 should be a wake up call for all of us. Before I continue, please ask yourself: what have I not believed that has caused me to take matters into my own hands? The narrative is another test for the children of Israel and their leaders. Contention arose because there was no water. Verse 3 says, “And the people contended with Moses…”
In their contention, they brought up their past again. Verse 5 says, “And why have you made us come up out of Egypt, to bring us to this evil place? It is not a place of grain or figs or vines or pomegranates; nor is there any water to drink.” They had totally forgotten about the other time there was no water. Moses had struck the rock and water came out for everyone.
The Lord instructed Moses and Aaron to gather the congregation. Verse 8 says, “…Speak to the rock before their eyes, and it will yield its water…” Watch now how the scene played out. In verse 10 Moses took matters into his own hands. His hidden anger at the people was revealed. It says, “…Hear now you rebels! Must we bring water for you out of this rock?” Then Moses struck the rock in his anger.
Verse 12 says, “Then the Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron, Because you did not believe Me, to hallow Me in the eyes of the children of Israel, therefore you shall not bring this assembly into the land which I have given them.” Derailed. Chilling. Hallow means to make the Lord holy in the eyes of the people. Moses disobeyed God’s instructions to speak to the rock before their eyes.
Contention means: heated disagreement, dispute, argument, discord, and quarrelsome. Proverbs 20:3 says, “It is honorable for a man to stop striving, since any fool can start a quarrel.” The Amplified says, “…to cease from strife and keep aloof from it…” Proverbs 29:11 Amplified says, “A (self-confident) fool utters all his anger, but a wise man holds it back and stills it.”
Interpersonal relationships are God’s way of teaching us harmony through unity. There will be clashes of will, fleshly reactions, offenses, and contentions. When they come up, we are instructed in His word how to navigate through them. We must believe them and put them into practice. 1 Peter 1:22 says, “Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit in sincere love of the brethren, love one another fervently with a pure heart.”
As the result of an angry man, I suffered another brain injury in 1997. I live with those effects even today. Your situation may not involve the physical, but rather emotional or spiritual consequences from someone’s anger. Jesus said that offenses would come. They are part of our lives. Yet, in the face of them, do we present the Lord as holy?
Ephesians 4:31-32 is key instruction for our interpersonal relationships. It says, “Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.” We glorify the Lord when we live in heart forgiveness.