Songs and Praise



Numbers 20:1-13, 22-29;

Lesson 107 Senior Lessons

MEMORY VERSE:  "Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it" (Hebrews 4:1).

I Strife at the Waters of Meribah

Israel, while at the waters of Meribah, was in an hour of strife and contention against God, Numbers 20:1-5; Exodus 17:2-7; Deuter-onomy 33:8; Psalm 81:7; Hebrews 3:7-19; 4:1-11 God often uses circumstances similar to this one at the waters of Meribah as a testing place for His people, Numbers 20:13; Deuter-onomy 8:1-20; Matthew 6:25-34; Hebrews 12:5-11, 25; Psalm 95:8 The problems of acquiring the necessities of life, such as food and water, without the assistance of God, often has brought great trou-bles, Psalm 78:19, 20 (read all of Psalm 78) ; Numbers 11:1-9

II Israel Once Again in the Hour of Trial

The failure of Israel at the waters of Meribah was a repetition of their fathers' and their own disbelief, Numbers 20:1-5; 14:2-10, 31; Hebrews 3:7-19; 4:1-16 The failure of Moses and Aaron was in not glorifying God in all
their actions, Numbers 20:10-12; 27:14; Deuteronomy 33:8 Moses and Aaron, as leaders of God's people, were to be examples of godly graces and virtues, as every true child of God is, regardless of any circumstance or provocation, Titus 2:7, 8; 3:2; II Corin¬thians 3:1-18; Romans 2:17-29; Philippians 3:17; 4:9; I Corin¬thians 11:1

III The Harvest of Failure and Disobedience

Moses and Aaron were both forbidden entrance into the Promised Land for their disobedience, and both died before the Children of Israel crossed into the land, Numbers 20:12, 22-29; Deuteronomy 32:49-52; 34:1-12 Moses prayed that God would allow him to enter the Promised Land, but God refused his request, Deuteronomy 3:23-29


The Waters of Meribah

We find the Children of Israel nearing the end of their wilderness wanderings and at last approaching the Promised Land. It is at the waters of Meribah, a stopping place on their journey, that we have the recorded instance of Numbers 20. Meribah means waters of strife or contention. The Israelites, in their wanderings through the wilderness for nearly forty years, should have learned that the God who was leading them with a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night, who was feeding them with

 manna from Heaven (angels' food) every day, and who was keeping their clothes and shoes from wearing out, was also able to provide water for them as He had in the past. Yet if one fails to learn a lesson he must face it again and again until it is learned. The Bible tells us we shall all be taught of God (Isaiah 54:13; John 6:45). Many times the lack of the simple necessities of life brings to us our hardest battles.

It is often hard for man to trust God for health, food, raiment, and housing, as well as for salvation. The fact that he does not desire to trust God shows the extent of depravity of the natural man and the sinful con¬dition of his heart. Whenever man finds himself contending with God over these matters, he also is, spiritually, at the waters of Meribah, as were the Israelites, who were our examples many years ago. (Read I Corinthians 10:1-15.)

God later said, 'I proved thee at the waters of Meribah' (Psalm 81:7), and again: 'And thou shalt remember all the way which the LORD thy God led thee these forty years in the wilderness, to humble thee, and to prove thee, to know what was in thine heart, whether thou wouldest keep his commandments, or no.... Who led thee through that great and terrible wilderness, wherein were fiery serpents, and scorpions, and drought, where there was no water; who brought thee forth water out of the rock of flint; who fed thee in the wilderness with manna, which thy fathers knew not, that he might humble thee, and that he might prove thee, to do thee good at thy latter end' (Deuteronomy 8:2, 15, 16).

It is one of the great fundamental truths of the Gospel that all who love God must pass through times of trial and testing of their faith. This is the grand lesson Job left to the world. We must all face these times, for it is in these places of testing that we become perfected so we shall be fit companions to dwell with God in eternity.

Moses, the Teacher of Grace

We now see Moses, not only as the leader of the people of God but as the embodiment of many godly graces. God has always used human in¬strumentalities to represent the Gospel, and He always will. Moses was the instrument through whom God gave the Law, which was in itself a great upward step in God's revelation to mankind. But Moses was more than a mere messenger to bring the letter of the Law. He was a man so qualified and acquainted with God, living so close to God, that he exempli¬fied in his daily life divine graces, as few men have done in the world's history.

This is just what the Lord intended him and us to do. It was through Moses that the people saw the virtues of God. His face shone so brightly on one occasion when he had been in contact with God, that the Children of Israel could not look at him, and he had to wear a vail over his face. Moses was the meekest man on earth (Numbers 12:3). He was not self-seeking, but several times demonstrated his genuinely unselfish spirit by reminding God of the promises He had made concerning Israel and of the glory of His own name.

The Israelites saw the cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night, and had seen the glory of God come down and fill the Tabernacle until even Moses could not minister because of it. Yet it was through Moses, and his personal life, that the people really saw and felt the divine graces of God.
As the Law was a schoolmaster to bring men to Christ, so undoubt-edly Moses showed forth divine graces, as every child of God must do today, to show men how God would have them live. That is the business of a Christian. Paul tells us: 'In all things shewing thyself a pattern of good works: in doctrine shewing uncorruptness, gravity, sincerity, sound speech that cannot be condemned... . To speak evil of no man, to be no brawlers, but gentle, shewing all meekness unto all men' (Titus 2:7, 8; 3:2).

Moses preached the Law, the mere letter of which could save no one, nor make anything perfect. (Read Hebrews 7:19.) Yet he preached the spirit of the Gospel with his life.

The Lesson Not Learned

This one time, Moses, as the leader and teacher of righteousness, in an hour of trial and provocation, failed to show forth the virtues and the image of Christ, who was to come. The indictment of God against him was, 'Because ye believed me not, to sanctify me in the eyes of the children of Israel.... '(Numbers 20:12). Moses had always been jealous of the glory due God's name. By pleading to God that He consider the honor due His name Moses had before been able to intercede for the sin of the Israelites, and obtain mercy for them from the judgments of God. Moses had appealed to God with the reasoning that if He destroyed the Israelites in the wilderness, the heathen nations would say that He was unable to bring them into the Promised Land, and His name would suffer ridicule. Yet it was this same Moses, who had always been so zealous Or the prestige of God,-who failed at Meribah to consider the glory due God.

Moses in the past had always had his eyes set upon nothing but God and His glory. This time it seemed that he saw nothing but the rebellion and unbelief of the congregation. No matter what our responsibilities or position in life might be, when we look at the actions of men, and not at the Lord, trouble soon arrives. It was so here. Moses became so perturbed at their chiding, which was directed at him because of their situation, that he spoke unadvisedly with his lips. 'They angered him also at the waters of strife, so that it went ill with Moses for their sakes' (Psalm 106:32). God said to him: 'Ye rebelled against my commandment' (Numbers 27:14). Moses smote the rock twice instead of speaking to it, as God had told him to do, and said, 'Ye rebels; must we fetch you water out of this rock?' He ignored the Lord completely. Moses and Aaron by implying they were pro¬viding water for the people glorified themselves and not God.

The Penalty of a Lesson Not Learned

'Dead flies cause the ointment of the apothecary to send forth a stinking savour: so doth a little folly him that is in reputation for wisdom and honour' (Ecclesiastes 10:1). This was the case of Moses and Aaron. Brash and hasty speech has no place in the life of a saint of God. Wherever it exists the condemnation of God will follow. Moses and Aaron were for¬bidden entrance into the Promised Land — the fulfillment of all they had worked for all their lives.

At the threshold of complete victory they failed. They did not fail to go to Heaven, but the capsheaf of their reward was lost, irrevocably lost. The sweetest blessing of their life's work on earth was gone. The very thing for which Moses and Aaron had prayed so many years, had plodded through years of desert wanderings, had patiently endured immeasurable heartaches and tears to attain, was now at hand. Aaron did not even see it. Moses saw it, but — he could not have it!

Moses prayed that God would reconsider and let him enter the Promised Land. God did not do so, and told Moses to speak no more of the matter, but to go and see the Promised Land from the top of Mount Pisgah.

We learn from the lesson of Moses and Aaron that we may serve God faithfully all the days of our lives, but in a moment of indiscretion, look¬ing away from God to the lives of ungodly men and women and taking matters in our own hands, we can lose a great deal. We can lose the very thing we have spent our lives striving for. We can lose the very capsheaf of the blessing and God's best for us. We can do even worse: we can dis¬obey God, sin, and lose our salvation; and if we do not repent we will be forever lost.


1 Relate another incident similar to the happening at the waters of Meribah.
2 What experience did the Children of Israel have that should have taught them that God could and would provide them with Water?
3 What did God command Moses and Aaron to do to provide water for the people?
4 How did Moses and Aaron fail to do what God commanded them to do?
5 How did the actions of Moses at the rock violate the command of God?
6 What was the offense Moses and Aaron were guilty of?
7 What did God tell Moses and Aaron would be the penalty for their disobedience?
8 Did either Moses or Aaron ever see the Promised Land?
9 When did Moses and Aaron die?
10 Were the Children of Israel at all to blame for the disobedience of Moses?

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