Sabbath Meditation #37 – Don’t Strike the Rock
“7 And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, 8 Take the rod, and gather thou the assembly together, thou, and Aaron thy brother, and speak ye unto the rock before their eyes; and it shall give forth his water…11 And Moses lifted up his hand, and with his rod he smote the rock twice: and the water came out abundantly, and the congregation drank, and their beasts also. 12 And the Lord spake unto Moses and Aaron, Because ye believed me not, to sanctify me in the eyes of the children of Israel, therefore ye shall not bring this congregation into the land which I have given them” (Numbers 20:7-8a, 11-12, KJV).
“And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ.” (I Cor. 10:4, KJV).
“Six days you shall work, but on the seventh day you shall rest: in plowing time and in harvest you shall rest” (Ex. 34:21, WEB).
After the children of Israel came out of Egypt, they needed water to drink. In Exodus chapter 17, God told Moses to take the elders of Israel and go to a specific rock nearby. He was commanded to strike the rock so that water would come forth from it. He obeyed the Lord and the people had water to drink.
This rock continued to bring forth water until Miriam died (Numbers 20:1-2). The people complained again that they did not have any water. Moses and Aaron sought the Lord about this situation. God instructed Moses to take a different approach with the same rock. He was to gather all the people, not just the Elders, and speak to the rock in front of them.
Moses and Aaron gathered the people as he was commanded. However, out of frustration he struck the rock twice instead of speaking to it. This act of disobedience brought honor to Moses and Aaron rather than to God and kept them from entering the Promised Land. Moses acted out of his flesh instead of following God’s command.
There are times in life that we get frustrated – perhaps even angered – at other people and our own circumstances. We may be frustrated with deadlines, peer pressure, financial troubles, our family members, and/or our job. One thing we want to avoid is letting our frustrations control us to the point where we sin by working and laboring on Sabbath. That is a similar attitude to the one Moses had when He struck the rock.
Here are some things we might think or say out of our frustration that cause us to strike the rock. “I need the money”; “I need the project complete”; “I’ve got a deadline”; “I need to be at this event”; “I can’t let someone down”; “people are counting on me”; and/or “I have to preserve my reputation.” At some point in our lives we will all be tempted with these attitudes. What will our response be?
I have been tested in this area. When I first started working one job years ago, I wasn’t doing well. People kept saying “If you would only work on Saturday morning, that will help you make it.” I was put down and told I would never be successful because I wouldn’t give up my religious beliefs. In my anguish and frustration, the enemy tempted me, but God helped me to realize that I needed to stand for Him. I didn’t cave in to the pressure (by the grace of God), and also (by His grace) we eventually became successful in that job. Once we pass the test, we can have the testimony! But at some point we will all go through similar situations.
As discussed in Sabbath Meditation #16 (click here to read), the Sabbath is a test of who we trust with our time. Is the God who parted the Red Sea for the children of Israel not able to provide for our needs? Of course, He can do it! But trust and patience are needed on our part.
Many people appeal to the ‘ox in the ditch’ example to justify these kinds of attitudes. Keep in mind that it’s not an ox in the ditch if we push the ox in the ditch or if we failed to plan and take care of business at other times. Our relationship with God should not be put in second place.
To navigate difficult situations, learn to pray and trust God. Put it in His hands. He will guide us through it. Striking the rock might produce results, but it won’t please God.
Our personal goals and desires for life cannot be allowed to outweigh God’s purpose for our lives. Eternal truths outweigh that which is temporal. When we think our needs are more important than God’s commandment, then we no longer really trust that God knows what is best for us. And He knew what was best before we were made (Eph. 2:10). It’s not worth compromising the purposes of God for our lives so we can get what we or others want or to satisfy some ambition that we or others have for our lives.
We can also be guilty of striking other people to get what we want. When humans are driven enough, they sometimes will disregard the importance of other people who are made in God’s image. When we react out of our flesh, like Moses, other people can pay the price. Therefore the second greatest commandment is “Love your neighbor as yourself.”
The next time you have a situation that is frustrating and seems to have you pressured to strike the rock, just speak to it. Tell those things that they can wait. Testify to the Lord and Savior who died for us and is Lord of the Sabbath (Mark 2:27-28). While this analogy can be applied to other commandments from God, the Sabbath is holy unto the Lord and should be reverenced as such during our busiest times and our slowest times, as explained in Exodus 34:21.
We learn in I Corinthians 10:1-4 that the rock which accompanied the Israelites in the desert was Christ. Striking the rock out of frustration is not just an analogy but something real that affects our relationship with Christ.
So, as a reminder: don’t strike the rock.
Kelly McDonald, Jr.
BSA President – www.biblesabbath.org