This is because both of you broke faith with me in the presence of the Israelites at the waters of Meribah Kadesh in the Desert of Zin and because you did not uphold my holiness among the Israelites. – Deut. 32:51 NIV
Jehovah had commissioned Moses to lead His people into freedom. He was not just going to free them from the clutches of oppression that they were in, under Pharaoh and the Egyptians, but was to lead them into a land flowing with milk and honey, one which Jehovah said belonged to the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perrizites, Hivites and Jebusites (Exo. 3:1-10), but here was Moses who had gone through the entire stress of leading them throughout the journey, at the border of the land Jehovah had promised that he will enter into with the Israelites, being told by this same Jehovah that he was not going to be able to enter into it – Num. 27:12-23; Deut. 31:15-16; 32:48-52. According to Jehovah in the scripture that is the foundation of today’s devotional, Moses did not uphold His honour at that crucial moment by the Waters of Meribah – Num. 20:8-11. It was not going to be him alone as his brother Aaron had been found guilty of a similar error and had been buried on Mount Hor (Num. 20:23-29), though Jehovah had earlier promised them both that they will lead the people into the Promised Land – Exo. 4:27-31. He was also accused of not upholding the holiness of Jehovah before His people not only on this occasion but even on a previous occasion when he led the people into idolatry at the foot of Mount Sinai – Exo. 32:1-35.
With Jehovah, it was not going to be only about the number of times that they got it right, but also about that single occasion when they both got it wrong – Eze. 33:12-20. It was always going to be about one thing, and that was how their actions or inactions projected Him before people, especially His own people – Isa. 42:8.
There is no doubt that He exalts His Word which includes promises made, even more than His name (Psa. 138:2), which is why He is considered credible and honorable. This honor, He guides jealously and it should not be expected that acts perpetuated that brings Him dishonor will be ignored, so any anyone involved in such dishonorable acts and still expects Him to stand by the promises He made will only be attempting to blackmail Him, albeit unsuccessfully, with the scriptures. The only result of such acts will be FAILURE. Obviously there seems to be some other considerations involved in the implementation of His pronouncements and promises. In this instance, it is obvious that the promise made to Moses and possibly Aaron was pre-conditioned on his reputation not being consciously or unconsciously maligned or negatively impacted by their actions, even though it was not stated explicitly.
In the scripture today, Jehovah referenced that single incidence in Kadesh, in the Desert of Zin where He had decided to provide water for the travelling Israelites just as he had done earlier (Exo. 17:5-7), except that this time around, He probably wanted to prove to them that He could do the same thing in a different way, may be to confirm that indeed, His ways no man can pre-determine – Isa. 55:8-9. It was all about His personality and how it will be enhanced before the Israelites.
Though on the previous occasion, He had instructed Moses to strike the Rock, on this occasion, he was to speak to the Rock, an instruction that Moses missed out on only to implement the earlier instruction. Water did come out but the anger of Jehovah was also triggered. He felt Moses did not honor Him.
Many Bible scholars have different postulations with regards to what triggered the anger of Jehovah, but what is not arguable is the fact that Jehovah felt dishonored by this act of disobedience by Moses, especially before a people from whom He will always desire honour. That was sufficient for Moses to lose the divine promise of, not only entering the Land he had laboured so much for, but the honor of leading the Israelites into it as that Grace was immediately transferred to Joshua – Num. 27:18-22, Deut. 34:9. What a huge loss for what seemed a small act of over-sight, negligence and disobedience.
Have you stopped to ponder about your actions and how much dishonor they bring to Jehovah? Have you considered how many times your actions have rubbished the name of Jehovah and brought it to disrepute? Do you not think that your present actions are bringing shame and disgrace to his name not just among His people but also among the unbelievers? If He would not pardon Moses who He concluded dishonored Him though unknowingly, why do you expect Him to overlook your deliberate and conscious acts that bring huge dishonor to His name? Meanwhile, you expect that He should continue to be there for you at those critical times that you need His intervention. You complain that He is watching you lose all those your life battles when your actions continue to bring Him shame and disgrace. You will only be living in a fool’s paradise if you think all those fasting, prayers and vigils will yield any result as all you will get is the same response He gave to Moses when he attempted to talk Him into changing His decision – Deut. 3:23-27. He had cautioned him on that occasion to stop talking, in a manner that indicated that his pleas will amount to sheer waste of time.
You too will have to stop all those pleas until probably you acknowledge how much your actions and lifestyle have ridiculed or are still ridiculing Him, and choose to make a change. The decision in the case of Moses may be cast on stone but yours may be different, after all, David on several occasions, also put up acts that brought His name to disrepute and He forgave him (2Sam. 12:1-14; Psa. 51:1-19; 32:1-11), and to think that was even before the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ on the Cross at Calvary – Jn. 3:16. You can change the direction of your life by reflecting on those acts that you perpetuated or are still involved in that is bringing dishonor to His name and plead with Him for forgiveness. He is true and just to forgive and grant a new beginning to you if He finds your actions sincere – 1Jn. 2:1-3.
May Jehovah help us to live a life that will always honor Him in Jesus name. Amen.