Sometimes I hear from families that their legacy is messed up. Whether through children who’ve gone astray, broken marriages, or failed businesses—they say it is too much. In their minds, they have a ruined legacy. It’s irredeemable.
But there’s a story worth repeating.
The crowd in the desert wilderness was at it again. They were complaining. Whining. It all sounded very familiar. Same song, same verse. “Why did you bring us out here to die? Where’s our meat? Where’s our water?”
I can imagine Moses thinking in exasperation: “Don’t they know how much I’ve sacrificed for them? Can’t anyone express any appreciation?” He was mad.
So he and his brother went and fell down, maybe collapsed, on the floor of the tent of the meeting. They spoke no words, but God knew. His instructions were simple: “Gather the people and speak to the rock and it will pour out its water.”
They gathered the people together, but Moses’ ego loomed large that day. He railed against the people and he spoke proudly, angrily:
“Listen, you rebels, must we bring you water out of this rock?”
And Moses struck the rock, and the water flowed. God’s rebuke was immediate. “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.” (Numbers 20:12)
A Ruined Legacy?
The scriptures go silent at this point. There’s no response from Moses or Aaron, but you can imagine later that day, or that night how Moses must have relived that scene in his mind over and over again.
He must’ve remembered how the blood rose in his veins, his face fiery red, the indignation and power flowing through him, the grasp of the staff, and the powerful strike of wood against rock.
While water flowed, shame rolled over him. His fit of anger had got the best of him again. Somehow he thought he was in charge. The darkness covered him. Completely.
The end of the story
But here’s the crazy thing: the shame of the rock was not the end of Moses. God didn’t send him packing.
He still chose to use him. In his grace, there was more:
- there was victory over king of Arad, a Canaanite king;
- he rescued the Israelites by obeying God and making a bronze snake;
- there was victory over Sihon, king of the Amorites, and Og, king of Bashan.
Later, as Joshua enters the promised land, he’s told about how the victory over Sihon and Og were pivotal in arousing dread in the peoples that Israel would later conquer.
His moment of shame was not the end of his legacy. Indeed, God still had a purpose and important work for Moses to do. He redeemed his “ruined legacy” even in the succeeding days and months after his shameful outburst at the rock. And of course, in all of history, Moses stands as the lawgiver. His was a legacy redeemed by the grace and mercy of God.
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Published June 14, 2019
Topics: Family Legacy