I’ve heard people speak of how the Lord had given them instructions that they didn’t follow through on, or that they only partially completed. For example, you’re in worship and you’re told to shout a praise 7 times but you only shout 4, or you pass on the task to someone else. Let me say, partial obedience or delayed obedience is rebellion against God; disobedience. I’ve observed that partial obedience to God’s orders is usually due to 4 factors: Pride, fear and as seen in the case below, doubt and frustration/anger.
Once again the Israelites began complaining that Moses had brought them into the wilderness to die. Once again, Moses sought the Lord for instructions. The Lord answered in Numbers 20:8 saying “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.”
Moses in verse 9 took the rod as the Lord had commanded him but by verse 10, he had deviated from the given directives. Here the factors to partial obedience begin to play out. I believe Moses was doubtful in God’s new tactic of giving His people water. Previously in Exodus 17:6, Moses was told to strike the rock and it would bring forth water. So God telling him to merely speak to the rock on this occasion seemed like a weak plan. He didn’t trust God enough to produce the same outcome by different means.
Also, based on verse 10 it can be argued that Moses grew tired and angry with how ungrateful and unpleasant the Israelites were. Let’s be honest, people are not easy to lead and the human in us at some point will reach wits end and act out. I can attest to that and I’m sure many of you can as well. However, this is no justification. We’re aware that no sin goes unpunished and the bible says in Romans 14:23 that whatsoever is not of faith is sin. That simply means that when Moses doubted God, he sinned against Him. Thus, Moses and Aaron had to face closed doors, extended hardship, revoked promises and death.
Subsequent to Moses allowing flesh to manifest through anger and doubt, he sought passage through Edom and was denied (v 18 and 20). Likewise when we disobey God and step out of His will, certain doors in both the physical and the spiritual will be closed unto us. Many people love to boast in Isaiah 54:17 declaring that no weapon that is formed against me shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise against me shall be condemned. But the most important part of the verse is always cut off, it says “This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, and their righteousness is of me, saith the Lord.” What does mean? If you’re not serving God, if you’re not walking in His will, this does not apply to you. Only the righteous have access.
Now that some doors have been closed, life is made harder. Moses and the children of Israel were unable to pass through Edom, and thus had to endure the wilderness longer than they were supposed to. In comparison, when we disobey God we’ll find that things in our lives begin to crumble and situations worsen. Why? We neglected God’s way (the best way) and chose to do our own thing. It is important to note that again, this is usually a faith issue where man chooses to look through the physical eyes instead of those of the spirit.
Lastly, have you ever been promised something by your parents but due to bad behavior you never received it? So it was with Moses. God said because you believed me not, you shall not bring this congregation into the land which I have given them (v12). Moses missed the promised land because he failed to obey! Even worst, Aaron was stripped of his priestly garments and died on mount Hor. Some of us are so rebellious that we’ve fought our way into spiritual and even physical death. We want so much to live life our way that we’ve reinstated the veil that was torn by the death of Christ.
Saints, ask yourself this question: “Is it worth it?” Is it worth the struggle? Is it worth losing your inheritance? Is is worth losing your family? Your marriage? Is it worth going to hell? Let us not rebel against the voice of God. The bible says rebellion (disobedience) is likened onto witchcraft and stubbornness (delay) is liked onto idolatry (1 Sam 15:23). In all things, let’s choose to be good children and listen to our father.