Numbers 20

God is able to supply His people with necessaries
even in their greatest straits and in the utmost failure of second causes.

1 Then came the children of Israel, even the whole congregation, into the desert of Zin in the first month: and the people abode in Kadesh; and Miriam died there, and was buried there.

2 And there was no water for the congregation: and they gathered themselves together against Moses and against Aaron.

3 And the people chode with Moses, and spake, saying, Would God that we had died when our brethren died before the LORD!

4 And why have ye brought up the congregation of the LORD into this wilderness, that we and our cattle should die there?

5 And wherefore have ye made us to come up out of Egypt, to bring us in unto this evil place? it is no place of seed, or of figs, or of vines, or of pomegranates; neither is there any water to drink.

6 And Moses and Aaron went from the presence of the assembly unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, and they fell upon their faces: and the glory of the LORD appeared unto them.

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, and thou shalt bring forth to them water out of the rock: so thou shalt give the congregation and their beasts drink.

9 And Moses took the rod from before the LORD, as he commanded him.

10 And Moses and Aaron gathered the congregation together before the rock, and he said unto them, Hear now, ye rebels; must we fetch you water out of this rock?

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.

13 This is the water of Meribah; because the children of Israel strove with the LORD, and he was sanctified in them.

14 ¶ And Moses sent messengers from Kadesh unto the king of Edom, Thus saith thy brother Israel, Thou knowest all the travail that hath befallen us:

15 How our fathers went down into Egypt, and we have dwelt in Egypt a long time; and the Egyptians vexed us, and our fathers:

16 And when we cried unto the LORD, he heard our voice, and sent an angel, and hath brought us forth out of Egypt: and, behold, we are in Kadesh, a city in the uttermost of thy border:

17 Let us pass, I pray thee, through thy country: we will not pass through the fields, or through the vineyards, neither will we drink of the water of the wells: we will go by the king’s high way, we will not turn to the right hand nor to the left, until we have passed thy borders.

18 And Edom said unto him, Thou shalt not pass by me, lest I come out against thee with the sword.

19 And the children of Israel said unto him, We will go by the high way: and if I and my cattle drink of thy water, then I will pay for it: I will only, without doing any thing else, go through on my feet.

20 And he said, Thou shalt not go through. And Edom came out against him with much people, and with a strong hand.

21 Thus Edom refused to give Israel passage through his border: wherefore Israel turned away from him.

22 ¶ And the children of Israel, even the whole congregation, journeyed from Kadesh, and came unto mount Hor.

23 And the LORD spake unto Moses and Aaron in mount Hor, by the coast of the land of Edom, saying,

24 Aaron shall be gathered unto his people: for he shall not enter into the land which I have given unto the children of Israel, because ye rebelled against my word at the water of Meribah.

25 Take Aaron and Eleazar his son, and bring them up unto mount Hor:

26 And strip Aaron of his garments, and put them upon Eleazar his son: and Aaron shall be gathered unto his people, and shall die there.

27 And Moses did as the LORD commanded: and they went up into mount Hor in the sight of all the congregation.

28 And Moses stripped Aaron of his garments, and put them upon Eleazar his son; and Aaron died there in the top of the mount: and Moses and Eleazar came down from the mount.

29 And when all the congregation saw that Aaron was dead, they mourned for Aaron thirty days, even all the house of Israel.

Numbers 20:1-13 – The Sin of Moses and Aaron

   Again the people, as the long years of their Wilderness life drew to an end, gathered around the Tabernacle at Kadesh. Again the murmuring spirit broke out, as it had done forty years before. To the end we shall be liable to the outbreak of the old sins; and can never relax our vigilance or sheathe the sword.
   Moses was to speak to the rock, not smite it. See Exodus 17:6. The Rock of Ages was smitten only once. “It is appointed unto men once to die,” and “Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many” (Hebrews 9:27-28). It is now only needful for the soul to speak to Him, though in the lowest and most faltering accents, to elicit streams of help and salvation.
   It was lack of faith that led Moses to smite the rock twice. Speaking seemed too slight an effort for the production of such a marvel! He forgot that neither rod nor speech effected the result, but the power of God that wrought through and with him. See I Corinthians 3:4. She only “touched the hem of his garment” (Matthew 9:20). —Through the Bible Day by Day

Numbers 20:8, 11—Speak ye unto the rock;… and Moses smote the rock twice.

   What a miracle of grace is here! Nothing could have been more explicit than the Divine command that Moses should, on this occasion, simply speak to the rock. We cannot fathom the deep reason; perhaps it was because the Spiritual Rock of our salvation could not be smitten by the soldier’s spear twice. “Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many” (Hebrews 9:28). Moreover, we are taught to wait on God each time we perform duties which appear similar, for the ways in which they should be performed may vary widely. It is clear, whatever the reason, that Moses was to speak, not smite.
   However, he grievously disobeyed; largely, probably, because he could not believe that mere speech would suffice for the miracle. He thought that he must do something to aid God, not realizing how slight a part man’s is in the Divine esteem. No flesh may glory in His presence. God must be all in all. We must believe that a word is enough; and that God will do the rest.
   But, in spite of his irritation, disobedience, and unbelief, the water gushed out. The sin of the servant did not annul the love and faithfulness of God. “If we believe not, yet he abideth faithful” (2 Timothy 2:13). It is a sweet lesson. We are worthless and unprofitable servants; we fail to believe and obey. But God’s grace flows over the bank, and inundates the wilderness with crystal streams. The Psalmist says the waters did not trickle, they gushed out. Oh, miracle of Divine faithfulness! But Moses himself had to pay the penalty in later years. Disobedience in God’s servants cannot be condoned. In proportion to the saintliness of their character is the rigor of their punishment. —Our Daily Homily

Numbers 20:14-28 – Edom Refuses Passage; Aaron Dies

   It was an ungracious act on the part of the Edomites—descendants of Esau, Jacob’s brother—to forbid the passage of the chosen people through their territory; and it was never forgotten. It is referred to again and again in the strongest terms by prophet and psalmist. See Deuteronomy 2:4, 8; 23:7; Amos 1:11; Obadiah 10,12; Psalm 137:7.
   Aaron’s death was arranged so as to give him a distant glimpse of the Land which had so long beckoned him onward. But he was not suffered to continue. His death is quoted in evidence of the imperfection of the Aaronic priesthood, in contrast to the indissoluble priesthood of our Lord, Hebrews 7:16.
   This is a sad chapter! Moses’ failure, Aaron’s and Miriam’s death, Edom’s refusal! But God’s purpose moved steadily on. He wrought for His own sake, because of the Covenant. —Through the Bible Day by Day