THE MISUSE OF DEPUTY AUTHORITY AND GODS GOVERNMENTAL JUDGMENT
Scripture Reading: Num. 20:2-3, 7-13, 22-28; Deut. 32:48-52
A DEPUTY AUTHORITY SHOULD SANCTIFY THE LORD
After the Israelites wandered in the wilderness for over thirty years, we find in Numbers 20 that they forgot the lesson that they had learned through their rebellion. When they came into the wilderness of Zin, they were without water, and they murmured and spoke against Moses and Aaron (vv. 2-3). Moses and Aaron had learned many lessons before the Lord already. But this time Moses erred in acting as Gods deputy authority. We need to consider how God judges a deputy authority when he fails. God was not angry this time at the peoples murmuring; He told Moses to take the rod, which was a symbol of Gods authority, and to speak to the rock so that it might yield its water. This shows that Moses and Aaron were Gods deputy authority. God did not say that He wanted to punish the Israelites. Moses and Aaron were not young men, yet they still failed in their position as Gods deputy authority. Verse 10 shows that Moses was very angry when he said, Hear now, you rebels; shall we bring forth water for you out of this rock? The phrase you rebels is strong in English as well as in Hebrew. It is a short expression in Hebrew. Moses used very strong words. He was angry. He might have thought, This rebellious people has been causing trouble for decades, and they are causing trouble still. He forgot Gods command and struck the rock with the rod twice. Although Moses was wrong, water flowed out just the same (v. 11).
This act prompted God to rebuke His servant. He said, You did not believe in Me, to sanctify Me in the eyes of the sons of Israel (v. 12a). This means that Moses and Aaron had not sanctified God; they had not separated God from themselves. Moses speaking was wrong and his striking was also wrong. His spirit was completely wrong, and he represented God in a wrong way. In reading the Bible we have to touch the spirit of the Word. It seems that God was saying, I saw that My people were thirsty, and I gave them to drink. Why are you rebuking them? God said that Moses and Aaron had not sanctified Him. This means that they had not set Him apart as the holy One. It seems that God was saying, You have involved Me in your errors. A persons words have to do with his attitude. Moses word did not sanctify God. His attitude was different from Gods attitude, and his feeling different from Gods feeling. God did not rebuke the people, but Moses did. This caused the Israelites to misunderstand God. They thought that God was fierce, that He was quick to condemn, and that He was a merciless God.
It is imperative that an authority represent God properly. Whether in wrath or in compassion, he should be like God all the time. If we are wrong, we should confess that we are wrong; we should never drag God into our mistake. If we do, we will bring judgment upon ourselves. We must be careful. It is a serious thing to drag God into our mistakes. Moses had been a deputy authority for decades, but he implicated God in his error. He represented God wrongly. This is why God had to judge him. When a deputy authority makes a mistake and does not confess it, God will step forward to vindicate Himself. It would be wrong for God to not judge Moses and Aaron. Gods dealing with Moses and Aaron meant that this act was committed by Moses and Aaron only, and that God had no part in it. Israels murmuring could have been a rebellion in attitude only; their spirit might have been different. This is why God did not judge them. Moses should not have judged them rashly when God had not judged them. He should not have uttered any unrestrained words according to himself. Moses rebuked the Israelites. This was his own attitude and his own wrath. But this easily could have lead the Israelites to believe that this was Gods attitude and Gods wrath. Mans wrath does not accomplish the righteousness of God. This is why God needed to vindicate Himself. He had to separate Himself from Moses and Aaron. He had to show the whole world that what Moses did that day was done by Moses alone; it was not done by Him. The words Moses spoke on that day were his own words; they were not Gods words. We can never implicate God in our mistakes or our personal failures, or give others the impression that our attitude is the attitude that God is expressing through His deputy authority. If we do, God will have to vindicate Himself. A deputy authority acts on behalf of God. If we become angry, we can only say that we are angry, that it is we who are behind it, not God. We have to separate the two. My worst fear is that man would become so bold as to associate his own acts with Gods work, and think it unnecessary to identify his actions as his own.
We are too prone to errors. Once we make a mistake, we should acknowledge it. On the one hand, this will save us from wrongly representing God and falling into the evil ones ensnarement. On the other hand, this will save us from falling into darkness. If we take the lead to acknowledge our mistakes, God will not have to vindicate Himself. Otherwise, we will fall into Gods governmental hand.
James Gabriel Gondai Dziya