July 11, 2019

Set Your Grumbling Aside 

Numbers 20

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The Death of Miriam

And the people of Israel, the whole congregation, came into the wilderness of Zin in the first month, and the people stayed in Kadesh. And Miriam died there and was buried there.

The Waters of Meribah

Now there was no water for the congregation. And they assembled themselves together against Moses and against Aaron. And the people quarreled with Moses and said, “Would that we had perished when our brothers perished before the LORD! Why have you brought the assembly of the LORD into this wilderness, that we should die here, both we and our cattle? And why have you made us come up out of Egypt to bring us to this evil place? It is no place for grain or figs or vines or pomegranates, and there is no water to drink.” Then Moses and Aaron went from the presence of the assembly to the entrance of the tent of meeting and fell on their faces. And the glory of the LORD appeared to them, and the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, “Take the staff, and assemble the congregation, you and Aaron your brother, and tell the rock before their eyes to yield its water. So you shall bring water out of the rock for them and give drink to the congregation and their cattle.” And Moses took the staff from before the LORD, as he commanded him.

Moses Strikes the Rock

10 Then Moses and Aaron gathered the assembly together before the rock, and he said to them, “Hear now, you rebels: shall we bring water for you out of this rock?” 11 And Moses lifted up his hand and struck the rock with his staff twice, and water came out abundantly, and the congregation drank, and their livestock. 12 And the LORD said to Moses and Aaron, “Because you did not believe in me, to uphold me as holy in the eyes of the people of Israel, therefore you shall not bring this assembly into the land that I have given them.” 13 These are the waters of Meribah,1 where the people of Israel quarreled with the LORD, and through them he showed himself holy.

Edom Refuses Passage

14 Moses sent messengers from Kadesh to the king of Edom: “Thus says your brother Israel: You know all the hardship that we have met: 15 how our fathers went down to Egypt, and we lived in Egypt a long time. And the Egyptians dealt harshly with us and our fathers. 16 And when we cried to the LORD, he heard our voice and sent an angel and brought us out of Egypt. And here we are in Kadesh, a city on the edge of your territory. 17 Please let us pass through your land. We will not pass through field or vineyard, or drink water from a well. We will go along the King's Highway. We will not turn aside to the right hand or to the left until we have passed through your territory.” 18 But Edom said to him, “You shall not pass through, lest I come out with the sword against you.” 19 And the people of Israel said to him, “We will go up by the highway, and if we drink of your water, I and my livestock, then I will pay for it. Let me only pass through on foot, nothing more.” 20 But he said, “You shall not pass through.” And Edom came out against them with a large army and with a strong force. 21 Thus Edom refused to give Israel passage through his territory, so Israel turned away from him.

The Death of Aaron

22 And they journeyed from Kadesh, and the people of Israel, the whole congregation, came to Mount Hor. 23 And the LORD said to Moses and Aaron at Mount Hor, on the border of the land of Edom, 24 “Let Aaron be gathered to his people, for he shall not enter the land that I have given to the people of Israel, because you rebelled against my command at the waters of Meribah. 25 Take Aaron and Eleazar his son and bring them up to Mount Hor. 26 And strip Aaron of his garments and put them on Eleazar his son. And Aaron shall be gathered to his people and shall die there.” 27 Moses did as the LORD commanded. And they went up Mount Hor in the sight of all the congregation. 28 And Moses stripped Aaron of his garments and put them on Eleazar his son. And Aaron died there on the top of the mountain. Then Moses and Eleazar came down from the mountain. 29 And when all the congregation saw that Aaron had perished, all the house of Israel wept for Aaron thirty days.


[1] 20:13 Meribah means quarreling

Set Your Grumbling Aside 

Key Verse | Numbers 20:12-13

And the LORD said to Moses and Aaron, "Because you did not believe in me, to uphold me as holy in the eyes of the people of Israel, therefore you shall not bring this assembly into the land that I have given them." These are the waters of Meribah, where the people of Israel quarreled with the LORD, and through them he showed himself holy.

Bio | Parker Prideaux

Hey, y'all! I am Parker Prideaux. I have been attending Watermark my entire life, and I am currently in an amazing small group. I love being a part of the lives of my three sisters. I also enjoy playing tennis, snow skiing, and trying new things.

Central Truth

We are called to trust God with a joyful and humble heart through all the hardships we face. No matter the circumstance, we should always trust that the Lord is in control and that He will provide for our every need.

Devotional | Numbers 20

I am blessed to have been raised in a Christian home. So, although I have always experienced life surrounded by God and His Word, I can also easily take God for granted and...

I am blessed to have been raised in a Christian home. So, although I have always experienced life surrounded by God and His Word, I can also easily take God for granted and rely on myself to solve problems. When I put God to the side and rely on myself, it is easy for me to grumble and complain when things do not go my way. 

Like the Israelites, we can all find the negative in hard situations like the death of a loved one, the loss of a job, a move to a new city, a change in schools, or just a difficult day. It is not easy to find the positive in tough and challenging circumstances. Life is full of obstacles. Rather than grumbling, we can use these challenges to grow our faith in God. 

The Israelites lost the ability to trust that God would provide in the midst of struggle, even though He had faithfully provided for them in so many ways. Because of their doubt, the Israelites lost the opportunity to go immediately into the Promised Land. 

God is with us to lead us throughout our lives. He will bring us into our "Promised Land" if we keep our trust in Him instead of drowning in doubt and unfaithfulness.

Numbers 20:13 says that "through them he showed himself holy." God will always "show up" and prove Himself holy in our lives. Be open to finding His blessings and provisions in ALL circumstances, even the difficult ones!

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Discussion Questions

1. In what areas of your life do you tend to set God aside? How can you bring Him back to the center of your life in those areas? 

2. What recent or current obstacles have you faced, and how has/can God use them to grow your faith?

3. In instances in which you have doubted God, how did it lead to a missed opportunity and/or misfortune? 

4. How can you remain faithful to God without complaining?

5. To change your mindset, what can you do to be more aware of a grumbling attitude?

13 Comments available

Jay Caruso 11 months ago

Thank you Parker. It was sad that Aron had to die due to the lack a faith and confidence and the ungrateful Israelites that are always complaining and never relying on God know all he has done this far

Jessica Schoellkopf 11 months ago

I thought it was interesting that Aaron is held accountable too (v24: “…because both you rebelled against my command.”) I think Aaron commits a sin of omission by not physically stopping Moses from striking the rock. It doesn’t say it in the text, but seems like he stood by and did nothing but watch Moses draw up his arms and strike them down on the rock.

Juxtapose that “not helping” with Exodus 17 when Moses’s hands grew tired and Aaron and Hur held his hands up for him. What changed? Had Aaron grown weary? Beat down by all the grumbling and wandering? Started to believe the Israelites instead of God?

greg jones 11 months ago
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Right? I would definitely agree.

May recovery always be well in our homes.

michele liu 11 months ago

Great job, Parker!

John Hill 11 months ago

WOW! What a great job you did with this devotional Parker. You seem VERY wise for someone so young! Your advice to use the obstacles in my life to GROW my faith in God rather than to simply complain to God is SPOT ON! Thank you!

greg jones 11 months ago

Wow Parker! Great job on this devotional. As a grownup I would not like the job of answering the questions this chapter brings up.

1Corinthians10:4 Paul claims that this rock has followed the Israelites throughout the wilderness and is Christ. So is Moses striking Christ? If so, then as adults do we tend to obsess over which side of a river Moses dies on rather than what the Christ produces? Abundant water.

Q4 I don’t know how to without faking it before God. I have learned this-complaining to God first leads to living water-because He is faithful.

Thank you Parker for reminding me of that.

Sue Bohlin 11 months ago

Thank you, friends, for praying for my husband Ray’s back surgery yesterday. It went very well and the neurosurgeon was pleased. I got to tell him (twice) that he had been prayed for a LOT! Now we trust God for recovery grace. Whether re:gen or surgery, we all need recovery grace, right?

Sue Bohlin 11 months ago

What a blessing, Parker, for you to grow up at Watermark! Thank you for giving back through your devo today.

On my “treasure hunt” search for grace in the Old Testament, I see it in today’s reading: the grace of discipline, and the grace of redemption. God sustained Moses through His discipline for Moses’ unbelief and pride and anger through the consequences of not leading the people into the Promised Land. (And here I see how hugely serious unbelief is to Him. Lord, please show me any areas where I cherish unbelief in my heart so I can root it out and repent of it!)

The grace of redemption comes in the gospel accounts of the Mount of Transfiguration, when God allows Moses to stand inside the Promised Land when he and Elijah have a literal “come to Jesus” moment on a mountain top with Peter, James and John.

Hope Harris 11 months ago

Wiersbe also points out that trying circumstances bring out the worst or best in people.

We have just read that Moses had withstood an attempt to be overthrown. almost forty years of traveling with challenging people who constantly complained and grumbled. Now he loses his sister the same one who spared his life as an infant.

Moses reached his limit and respond in anger and perhaps pride. As a leader he was held to a higher standard and God had no choice but enforce the consequences of Moses reactions and actions.

I see a God who is just and fair. In addition as we will read I see a man who in the end humbly accepted how God dealt with him.

Hugh Stephenson 11 months ago

Part 2

Constable and Wiersbe clarify for me –

“To summarize,

Moses harshly rebuked the people (v. 10), took credit for what God had done (v. 10), resented the Israelites (v. 10), lost his temper (v. 11), disobeyed God (v. 11), did not trust God’s power (v. 12), failed to glorify God (v. 12), and rebelled against God (v. 24).”

“Moses has experienced two family funerals, two confrontations with critics in the camp, and a personal failure at Kadesh, yet he picks up his rod and goes right back to work. Victorious Christian service, like the victorious Christian life, is a series of new beginnings. No matter what mistakes we’ve made, it’s always too soon to quit.”

Hugh Stephenson 11 months ago

God promises to provide for me. Even when I grumble and complain rather thank him for my undeserved provision. He will show me how holy He is. It might be painful.

Sin has very long-term consequences. The conflict with the Edomites links back to the conflict between Jacob and Esau.

The sin of Moses has been confusing to me. Constable edifies -

“Quite clearly this was not a failure to believe that God could or would provide water for the people. Rather it was a failure to believe that simple obedience to God’s command was best (cf. Gen. 4:1-7).”

“Evidently Moses, in his frustration with the people, thought that he was the performer of the miracle rather than only God’s instrument. This is a common error in modern ministry, and it still produces great frustration: thinking that we need to be manufacturers rather than simply distributors of blessing to others.”

Michael Scaman 11 months ago

Moses previously struck a rock to bring life giving water

Here he is to speak to it.

Jesus only died once and is not to be stuck and struck and struck dying over and over but called upon

Michael Scaman 11 months ago

In a sense God is put on trial, God in the dock, before the elders here.

But not even the greatest law giver, Moses, could keep the law and would not enter the promised land. Joshua and Caleb would enter the land by faith

“…Because you [Moses] did not believe in me, to uphold me as holy in the eyes of the people of Israel, therefore you shall not bring this assembly into the land that I have given them…”

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