Parashat Chukat (Statute of)
Bamidbar (Numbers) 19:1–22:1
I entitled last week’s blog, Guard your heart, and felt that it directly connects to our portion this week. This week, we read of a well-known story that ended in a tragic result:
Then the sons of Israel, the whole congregation, came to the wilderness of Zin in the first month; and the people stayed at Kadesh. Now Miriam died there and was buried there. And there was no water for the congregation; and they assembled themselves against Moses and Aaron. The people thus contended with Moses and spoke, saying, ‘If only we had perished when our brothers perished before the LORD! Why then have you brought the LORD’s assembly into this wilderness, for us and our beasts to die here? And why have you made us come up from Egypt, to bring us in to this wretched place? It is not a place of grain or figs or vines or pomegranates, nor is there water to drink.’ Then Moses and Aaron came in from the presence of the assembly to the doorway of the tent of meeting, and fell on their faces. Then the glory of the LORD appeared to them; and the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, “Take the rod; and you and your brother Aaron assemble the congregation and speak to the rock before their eyes, that it may yield its water. You shall thus bring forth water for them out of the rock and let the congregation and their beasts drink.” So Moses took the rod from before the LORD, just as He had commanded him; and Moses and Aaron gathered the assembly before the rock. And he said to them, “Listen now, you rebels; shall we bring forth water for you out of this rock?” Then Moses lifted up his hand and struck the rock twice with his rod; and water came forth abundantly, and the congregation and their beasts drank. But the LORD said to Moses and Aaron, “Because you have not believed Me, to treat Me as holy in the sight of the sons of Israel, therefore you shall not bring this assembly into the land which I have given them.” Those were the waters of Meribah, because the sons of Israel contended with the LORD, and He proved Himself holy among them.
There is no doubt that the end of this story is tragic. Because Moses and Aaron did not trust God, and did not follow His instructions, they never entered the Land of Promise. I cannot imagine how devastating that was for Moses, especially (See more about this topic Parashat Chukat (Statute of)).
It occurred to me, however, as I reread this Scripture that perhaps there was something else happening in the account. I want to offer another possible interpretation, and approach it from a somewhat different perspective. Could it be that Moses’ anger caused him to sin? Is it possible that his anger blinded his trust in God to the point of disbelief? Verses 2 and 3 tell us that due to the water shortage, “the people assembled against Moses and Aaron” and quarreled with Moses. This was not the first time it happened and I believe it is fair to suggest that Moses had a growing frustration with his people, and their wandering in the wilderness.
Can it be that the reality that Moses faced this time was too much? Could it be that he allowed anger to fill his heart, so much so that maybe he did not pay attention to God’s instructions, and that him hitting the rock was as a result of anger and rage… i.e., “I am done!” I think this is a very real possibility, even though the text does not explicitly say so.
Anger in itself is not sin. It’s what we do with our anger that can lead to sin! Do we allow our anger toward someone or a situation to overcome us, even to the point that we cannot hear God? Even to the point that we may sin against God? This is yet another reason why we must guard our hearts!
BE ANGRY, AND yet DO NOT SIN; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not give the devil an opportunity.
I encourage you to take time to pray, asking the LORD to reveal any area in your life that might be full of anger, which could open the door to sin. Anger that is not dealt with can have disastrous consequences; give your anger to God and allow Him to take care of every situation in your life!