Numbers 20

Some thoughts for meditation following our daily devotional Scripture reading that is provided each week.

This begins at the first month of Israel’s 40th year of wilderness wandering (cf. 33:36-38). Israel arrived at Kadesh, where 40 years earlier upon the 10 spies’ bad report Israel disbelieved God and refused to enter Canaan. That generation was thus condemned to die in the wilderness.

Upon arriving at Kadesh they were without water. Sadly, after 40 years of discipline Israel’s discontent and complaining ways remained the same. They blamed Moses and Aaron, doubted God’s ways, and didn’t believe his promises. They judged and evaluated God’s ways by their present circumstances.

Moses and Aaron went to the tabernacle and brought the matter before the Lord. God told Moses to speak to the rock and water would come out of it. However Moses angrily hit the rock twice with his rod, yet water came out. God thus forbade Moses and Aaron from entering the promised land because of their unbelieving, public disobedience (cf
Psa 106:32-33).

As Israel approached Canaan they asked permission of Edom to pass through their land but were denied. This required Israel to travel around Edom to enter Canaan.

Four months after Miriam’s death (33:38) God had Moses take Aaron up to Mount Hor, along with Aaron’s son Eleazar. There Aaron’s position and responsibility as high priest were transferred to Eleazar, and Aaron died because of his rebellion against the Lord at Meribah.

By the end of the year, just seven to eight months later, Israel would arrive at the Jordan, Moses would go up on Mount Nebo and see the promised land, and would then die there.


  1. Discipline requires faith for it to be profitable. Israel had 40 years of both the Lord’s supernatural presence and provision, yet because of their unbelief they were still the same.
  2. God will be hallowed, regardless whether it was unbelieving Israel or her leaders, Moses and Aaron. Our tendency is to acquit Moses and Aaron, sympathizing with them having to endure 40 years of Israel’s complaints, but such never excuses publicly dishonoring a holy God, the Savior and King of Israel.
  3. Leaders bear greater responsibility and judgment (Jas 3:1).
  4. A rash impulse can affect a lifetime of faithful labor. Scripture commends Moses’s faithfulness and lists him as Israel’s greatest prophet, but it also records his failure and disappointment. Great prospects, position, and advantages still require faithfulness and obedience.
  5. Disobedience is unbelief and dishonors God. The more public the disobedience, the more publicly God is dishonored.
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