It seemed simple enough.
God’s people were in the wilderness. They needed water and God gave Moses a solution: “Gather the people and speak to the rock and before their eyes it will pour out its water” (Numbers 20:8). Now that seems a little strange, but it had worked before (see Exodus 17:1-7), so Moses gathered the people. Unfortunately, this is where everything falls apart.
Moses is tired! He has been leading these people for 40 years and all they have done is complain and gripe about everything. In fact, we are told that earlier that day “the people gathered in opposition to Moses and Aaron. They quarrelled with Moses and said… ‘Why did you bring us to this terrible place? It has no grain or figs, grapevines or pomegranates. And there is no water to drink!’” (Numbers 20:2-5)
Forty years of frustration boiled over and Moses turned to the people and yelled, “You people are always complaining. Now listen to me. I will cause water to flow from this rock” (verse 10). He took his staff, turned around and started beating it against the rock until water started to flow.
Here is the question to think about: have you ever felt like Moses? You work hard, do your best, give everything you can and people still are not satisfied. They still complain. They still want more. It can be so maddening to serve people.
That, however, is the big problem: we are not serving people. We are serving God! When we get that confused, when we get our eyes in the wrong place, then we have trouble.
That is what happened to Moses, right? For one brief moment, he forgot who he was serving. When he got his eyes off of God and just looked at the people and their performance, he became disappointed and angry and lashed out at them. Whenever we serve to get people’s performance, thanks or approval, we will always be disappointed and angry. People will never give us what we need.
Our service, if done correctly, should not feel like a burden. If it is making us angry, or weary, that is a good indication that we have lost our focus, because serving God should produce things like “Love, joy peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23).
If service is producing anything else in us, then we can be certain that we are not doing things in or by his Spirit.
In the end, Moses was not allowed to enter the Promised Land (Numbers 20:12). He lost his blessing because he lost his focus and the same thing can happen to us.
You can serve people and be disappointed, angry and upset, or you can keep your eyes on God and find his joy, strength and encouragement.
“The joy of the Lord is your strength!” (Nehemiah 8:10)