We all know that Moses was denied access into the Promised Land, and that it had something to do with striking a rock to get water. There must have been something more significant than just hitting a rock with stick. Afterall, Moses broke the stone tablets with the Ten Commandments on them, and God did not get angry. Let’s take another look at the event.
The first instance of Moses’ hitting the rock is in Exodus 17:1-7. The people were thirsty, and they were angry, so Moses went to the LORD with the problem. Verses 5 and 6 say this:
“Then the LORD said to Moses, ‘Pass before the people and take with you some of the elders of Israel; and take in your hand your staff with which you struck the nile, and go. Behold I will stand before you there on the Rock at Horeb; and you shall strike the rock and water will come out of it, that the people may drink.’ And Moses did so in the sight of the elders of Israel.” (NASB)
The second time, when all of the trouble came down on Moses, is in Numbers 20:1-13. The people were again thirsty and angry. Moses and Aaron went to the tent of meeting to meet with the LORD. Verses 7-12 tell the crux of the story.
“And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, ‘Take the rod; and you and your brother Aaron assemble the congregation and speak to the rock before their eyes, that it may yield its water. You shall thus bring forth water for them out of the rock and let the congregation and their beasts drink.'”
“So Moses took the rod from before the LORD, just as He had commanded him; and Moses and Aaron gathered the assembly before the rock, and he said to them, ‘Listen now, you rebels; shall we bring forth water for you out of this rock?’ Then Moses lifted up his hand and struck the rock twice with his rod; and water came forth abundantly, and the congregation and their beasts drank.”
“But the LORD said to Moses and Aaron, ‘Because you have not believed Me, to treat Me as holy in the sight of the sons of Israel, therefore you shall not bring this assembly into the land which I have given them.'” (NASB)
Several years ago, I heard a most interesting and fascinating sermon on this event in Moses’ life. The preacher reminded his listeners that much of the Old Testament, while literally true, is also symbolic of events to come in the New Testament.
He went on to say that, when Moses struck the rock the first time, it was symbolic of Jesus’ being struck leading to His crucifixion; and that the water which flowed from the rock was also symbolic of the living water of salvation which Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection would provide.
Moses was supposed to speak to the rock the second time as a symbol of our prayers of supplication to our risen Lord Jesus Christ. But when he struck it instead, he was symbolically crucifying Jesus a second time, making God’s master plan null and void, which is what angered God.
That is the only time I ever heard that explanation for why Moses’ and Aaron’s punishment was so great. I cannot vouch for it’s being true, but I do find it a very plausible and compelling explanation. And I offer it for you to pray about and meditate on.