Authority and Responsibility

“Take the rod; and you and your brother Aaron assemble the congregation and speak to the rock before their eyes, that it may yield its water.”  Then Moses lifted up his hand and struck the rock twice with his rod; and water came forth abundantly, and the congregation and their beasts drank. (Numbers 20: 8a, 11 NASB)
Moses viewing the Promised Land
Moses and Aaron directly disobeyed God’s instructions.  Instead of speaking to the rock, Moses struck it twice.  We can learn from this section is that the best among us have their failings.  Another takeaway is that greater authority always requires greater responsibility.
In response to Moses’ disobedience, the Lord said to Moses, “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 NASB).  Moses and Aaron would not be permitted to take Israel into the Promised Land.  To the casual observer, the punishment may not seem to fit the crime.  Yet, in God’s eyes, it did.  Moses modeled before Israel unbelief and disobedience.  Unbelief and pride will always lead us to believe that our way of doing it is better than God’s.  The result isl disobedience. Sin is sin.  In a sense, the transgressions of one with authority are no greater than one with little authority, yet the consequences for them are because of the number of people they affect.  For a leader, there is no such thing as a private sin.
In spite of what I have written, judgment is often accompanied by mercy.  Even though Moses did it the wrong way, God still gave him water.  Also, God did not abruptly take him out of leadership but allowed him to affect an orderly transfer of power to Joshua.  In addition, though, he was not permitted to go into the Promised Land, God let Moses go up on the mountain to view by the land that Israel would soon take.  God understands that we are but dust and he has pity on us.  God is just and kind at the same time.
The greater the authority you have, the greater your responsibility and the more severe is your judgment.  It is just part of the territory.  By the way that Moses responded to his consequence, it showed he understood God’s expectations of one who has been given authority.
Image used with permission by Microsoft.
Ken Barnes the author of “The Chicken Farm and Other Sacred Places”  YWAM Publishing

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