But the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, “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.” (Numbers 20:12 NLT)
Relate: “I did not have sexual relations with that woman.”–I would guess that most of you reading this post can identify Bill Clinton as the speaker of this quote. The familiarity of his words stem from the media frenzy that followed the discovery of his moral failure. There is no news more sensational than that of a leader failing. People are outraged, saddened, angered, and even a few are pleased by the accounts of those above being brought low. We react strongly to the failures of leaders because a level of trust has been broken. We trust our leaders to show the way, so what do we do when they don’t, especially in the church?
Moses and Aaron failed in the wilderness at Kadesh. They did not obey God, and they lost their right to lead. Sadly, this is not an unfamiliar picture in churches. There are many evangelists, pastors, priests, and other church leaders who have lost their abilities to lead because they have failed to follow God’s instructions. This can be disheartening to many followers. They wonder how they are expected to succeed in their spiritual walks if even those whose lives are dedicated to a full time pursuit of Godly instruction can fall down. Some critics and religious skeptics consider a church leader’s moral deficiencies proof that religion is a hoax. Others, even devote followers, feel betrayed and begin to question if God was really using the leaders to begin with. In fact, many are quick to discredit all ministry that occurred under the individual’s leadership.
We see that although Moses and Aaron did not follow God’s instructions in how to bring water from the rock, their failure did not prevent God’s miraculous provision of water for the people of Israel. In fact, the verse following the rebuke of Moses and Aaron’s failure to demonstrate God’s holiness to the people says, “This place was known as the waters of Meribah (which means arguing) because there the people of Israel argued with the Lord, and there he demonstrated his holiness among them” (Numbers 20:12 NLT). Wait just a minute, didn’t God say Moses and Aaron failed to demonstrate His holiness to the people. Well, if they didn’t do it, how did it happen? God. God is holy at all times, and despite Moses and Aaron’s failure, God still showed up to demonstrate His holiness.
React: This is as true today as it was then. God shows up and works miraculously even when the people representing Him to others fail. My parents always told me, “Don’t judge God by His people.” When man fails, God does not. The failings of men do not have the ability to eliminate the power of the actions God allowed to occur through them. Moses and Aaron’s failure at Mirabah-Kadesh does not lessen or detract from the parting of the Red Sea. God is God no matter what His people do.
God, thank you for using me despite my broken human nature. Just as you show me your unending mercy and grace, help me to extend compassion to those who fail. Thank you for being faithful no matter how your people act.