Overconfidence and Familiarity

Chapters Read: Numbers 16:1 – 20:27

But the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, “Because you did not trust me enough to honor me as holy in the sight of the Israelites, you will not bring this community into the land I give them.”  – Numbers 20:12

Aaron will be gathered to his people. He will not enter the land I give the Israelites, because both of you rebelled against my command at the waters of Meribah.” – Numbers 20:24

The sad story in Moses and Aaron’s journey is that they were not able to set foot on the promised land. After all those years of leading and attending to the needs of the Israelites in the desert, the Lord withheld from them the opportunity to enjoy the land the He had prepared for them. Why? Because of disobedience.

As I was reading these chapters, I saw two attitudes that might have led Moses and Aaron to disobedience–overconfidence and familiarity.

The Lord’s instruction was clear: to gather the Israelites, and speak to the rock in front of them for the water to come out of it so the people can drink. But Moses, consumed by his impatience and anger for the people, struck the rock twice with his staff.

I call this overconfidence because Moses decided to take the matter in his own hands. He thought his own version of resolving the problem was better than what the Lord instructed him to do. Maybe he felt that “speaking to the rock” was too soft, that the Israelites needed to see the weight of their incessant grumblings. But no matter how good his intentions were, disobedience is disobedience.

Another thing is that I think Moses became too familiar with the Lord, that he believed that he will be forgiven for anything. This is a dangerous way of thinking. While it’s true that the Lord is merciful, we must never forget that He is also just. He will not let disregard of His commands go unpunished.

But this was one mistake. Why were the Israelites forgiven over and over, while Moses and Aaron (Aaron didn’t even do anything!) were given a very grave penalty?

It’s because they were leaders. They were expected to inscribe the Lord’s commands in their hearts so they would do well to obey them, and serve as an example to the people they are leading.

And so let’s all be watchful of our actions. If someone wrongs or offends you, do not act in anger. Allow God’s word to rule your heart before taking action, for God sees everything. As His word says in Romans 12:19:

“It is mine to avenge; I will repay.”



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