Last June in Lancaster, California, a man punched a Starbucks barista in the face, breaking his jaw – all because the barista asked him to wear a mask.
People are angry about a lot of things today. The pandemic, combined with the economy, civil unrest, and the politics of the day, creates almost a perfect storm of anger for a lot of people. And I have no doubt that social media is feeding this frenzy.
I know people lose their tempers. I know people are uptight. But the Bible says that a person who loses his temper is a fool (see Proverbs 29:11). However, when Christians love each other, it’s a powerful witness to a lost world.
I know we feel justified sometimes in unloading both barrels, because we think we’re in the right on the subject. So let’s just say, for the sake of a point, that we are right. We don’t have to turn it into a major conflict.
Perhaps we try and rationalize it by saying that we’re more spiritual and need to set them right. But if we’re truly spiritual, if we’re truly godly, then we’ll be humble and loving – not filled with anger and rage.
The apostle Paul wrote to the Christians in Ephesus, “Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you” (Ephesians 4:31–32 NLT).
Yet even Moses lost his temper. After God gave him the Ten Commandments, he descended from Mount Sinai to find the Israelites dancing naked before a golden calf. And he was really ticked off. So Moses took the tablets with the commands written by the finger of God, and he smashed them on the ground.
Remember, the reason Moses had been in the wilderness before the Exodus was because he lost his temper. He saw an Egyptian slave driver mistreating a Hebrew, so he killed the man and buried him in the shifting sand. As a result, he was sent into exile. God gave Moses a long time-out.
Fast-forward many years, and the people of Israel are on the brink of entering the Promised Land. However, they had been complaining every step of the way. They didn’t believe that God would let them go into the land. They thought it would be too hard.
Although they complained and whined, Moses put up with them. In fact, the Bible says that Moses “was very humble – more humble than any other person on earth” (Numbers 12:3 NLT). Yet there comes a point when enough is enough, and Moses was fed up. He couldn’t take it anymore.
That’s because the Israelites seemed to have a case of spiritual amnesia. They seemed to forget all that God had done for them and how he provided food for them every day, right outside their tent doors. God led them with fire by night and a cloud by day. He watched over them. He even parted the Red Sea for them.
But they had forgotten what God had done.
So when they were thirsty, they complained to Moses and said, “If only we had died in the Lord’s presence with our brothers! Why have you brought the congregation of the Lord’s people into this wilderness to die, along with all our livestock? Why did you make us leave Egypt and bring us here to this terrible place? This land has no grain, no figs, no grapes, no pomegranates, and no water to drink!” (Numbers 20:3–5 NLT).
So Moses and Aaron went into the tabernacle to pray, and God gave them clear direction. He said to Moses, “You and Aaron must take the staff and assemble the entire community. As the people watch, speak to the rock over there, and it will pour out its water. You will provide enough water from the rock to satisfy the whole community and their livestock” (verse 8 NLT).
But Moses wasn’t in the mood to speak to some rock. He wanted to hit something. So after he and Aaron had called the people together, the Bible tells us that he “raised his hand and struck the rock twice with the staff, and water gushed out” (verse 11 NLT).
Moses disobeyed God. What had God told him to do? He told him to speak to the rock. But due to his great anger, Moses hit the rock not once, but twice.
So God said, “Because you did not trust me enough to demonstrate my holiness to the people of Israel, you will not lead them into the land I am giving them!” (verse 12 NLT). Moses would be on the outside, looking in.
God holds leaders to a high standard, and Moses didn’t do what God told him to do. Bad decisions bring bad consequences, and because of what Moses did, he wasn’t able to enter the Promised Land.
Have you ever said or done something you regretted? Unfortunately, we can’t go back and change the past. But the good news is that God gives second chances. Moses did make it into the Promised Land ultimately. He didn’t lead the Israelites into the Promised Land, of course. But we find another record of Moses in the New Testament.
When Jesus was transfigured, Peter, James and John were there, but the Bible also points out that two other people were with him as well: Elijah and Moses (see Matthew 17:3; Mark 9:4). So in effect, Moses was in the Promised Land.
Yes, Moses stumbled and fell. He messed up. But that was not the end of his story. And it’s not the end of your story, either.
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