Speak To The Rock
Thanksgiving Conference Nov.30, 1975 Dearborn Heights Assembly, Michigan
Here in Numbers, we read something of the wilderness history. In chapter 20, verse 2
And there was no water for the congregation: and they gathered themselves together against Moses and against Aaron. And the people chode with Moses, and spake, saying, Would God that we had died when our brethren died before the Lord! And why have ye brought up the congregation of the Lord into this wilderness, that we and our cattle should die there? And wherefore have ye made us to come up out of Egypt, to bring us in unto this evil place? It is no place of seed, or of figs, or of vines, or of pomegranates; neither is there any water to drink. And Moses and Aaron went from the presence of the assembly unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, and they fell upon their faces: and the glory of the Lord appeared unto them.
"And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, Take the rod, and gather thou the assembly together, thou, and Aaron thy brother, and speak ye onto the rock before their eyes; and it shall give forth his water, and thou shalt bring forth to them water out of the rock: so thou shalt give the congregation and their beasts drink. And Moses took the rod from before the Lord, as He commanded him. And Moses and Aaron gathered the congregation together before the rock, and he said unto them, Hear now, ye rebels; must we fetch you water out of this rock? And Moses lifted up his hand, and with his rod he smote the rock twice: and the water came out abundantly, and the congregation drank. and their beasts also."
Now we are not going to read what the Lord had to say to Moses about that afterward. But here was a wonderful opportunity for Moses to have represented rightly the heart of God at a time when the congregation was in a state of murmuring, disunity, discontent. Moses, instead of just speaking to the rock as he was told, smote the rock. Previously, in Exodus 17, we are told that he was to smite the rock, and he did. And there we see a beautiful picture of Christ smitten for us on Calvary, from whence the water flows forth -- the living waters of the Spirit of God -- having come at Pentecost to refresh the hearts of a weary people.
However, now here later on in the wilderness, again they are thirsty. Have you and I thirsted? You know, in the history of the Church on earth, where is that same living freshness that was once here as in the Book of Acts, where we find that real unity? They were together with one accord. Where is it today? Sadly lacking. Would to God it were true. But we know it's lacking, and we might as well face the facts. What is the reason for it? Who is to blame? Dear brethren, we are to blame! And we must face the facts. If there has been any measure of disunity among the people of God - if there is any disunity in your local assembly -- if there is anything that is discordant, who is to blame? We are to blame. Let us watch not to just simply point the finger at some individual. Our brother mentioned in Ephesians 4: "Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace." How important for our souls to get into the very presence of God.
Moses, you know, did this first. When the congregation gathered themselves to murmur, how good to see how Moses and Aaron went from the presence of the congregation to the door of the tabernacle. And they fell on their faces before God. This is what we deeply need -- that spirit of intercession. Would to God that we all had it. Here we see certainly the responsibility of the individual in connection with the welfare of the whole. Let our souls take it to heart.
What of the individual now? Murmuring comes up. This is the very beginning of division -- murmuring. Have I been guilty of it? Have you? Any complaints -- that spirit of complaint? Remember, that spirit of complaint actually is against God! Think of it! It's as much as to say, "God is not caring for me as He ought to." Or, "God is not caring for the assembly as He ought to." Instead of having the spirit of complaint, oh, let us have the spirit of intercession.
I know there are things that are inconsistent in the assembly. Let Us face it. Things that are not just as they ought to be. What are we doing about it? We might be able to discern it, and see what's wrong, but that's a different thing from bringing the grace that meets the wrong.
Moses knew it was wrong here, and he recognized his own inability to face it. Do we know our own inability to face these things when they come up? What are we going to do about it? Get into the presence of God! Into the Lord's own presence. "And they fell upon their faces;" and the Lord answered. You know, the Lord will. "Where two or three are gathered together in My Name, there am I in the midst of them." We have been speaking about gathering together. Suppose the whole assembly is not agreed in regard to gathering together? Sadly, sometimes it happens. Even if two or three do, they have that same promise of the presence of the Lord Jesus, when it is a true spirit of affection for Christ that gathers them by the power of the Spirit of God in prayer.
And Moses and Aaron prayed and God gives the answer. What wonderful grace, too. Where would we be in the wilderness today in our wilderness history -- if it weren't for the grace of God? God didn't act in the way Moses did here, did He? God told Moses to go before and speak to the rock. Now Moses spoiled the type. The rock had been smitten once. Christ has been smitten once. The Spirit came at Pentecost and He remains in the Church. He remains in every believer and in the Church collectively. The power of the Spirit is lacking sadly. We know it. We are to blame for it. What we need is not a fresh giving of the Spirit. We don't have to have Christ go and die again in order to give us the Spirit again. Why no! Speak to the Rock. Christ is the Rock. Speak to Him, in order that the fullness of the Spirit might the more flow out and be seen in His saints.
All he had to do was speak before their eyes. He would have rightly represented God then, and God's pure love and grace. Wouldn't it have been a rebuke to their murmuring and complaining if Moses had just simply spoken to the rock instead of Moses rebuking them? Wouldn't it have been a far better rebuke? Wouldn't they have felt it more deeply? Yet God showed grace in response to their complaining. Dear brethren, there is something of the evidence of the Spirit of God - when one can show grace in the face of complaints. Think of it! Are we taking advantage of the power of the Spirit of God? Oh, the Lord stir us to do so.
However, after Moses smote the rock, the waters came out abundantly. God was going to show Himself gracious, even though Moses did not. Now I wouldn't want to complain against Moses because, in the main, Moses was a man of God. And we find him the meekest man upon the face of the earth -- accepting things from his people and not answering back again. Over and over we see this in Moses' case -- praying for the people when they had acted badly. I suppose that most of us have had some sad experiences along the lines, though, where we'll bear it for a certain length of time and then we'll erupt. It's too bad if that happens. The Lord keep us from it. The Lord give us grace to know how to bear. In reference to that verse in Ephesians 4: "With all lowliness and meekness, with long-suffering, forbearing one another in love. Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace." Forbearance. Lowliness. Long-suffering. Now there is the evidence of the Spirit of God at work. Do we want to see the power of the Spirit of God? This is where we see it.
But however, speak to the Rock. If there are difficulties among ourselves, what do we do about it? Anything that comes in to hinder true unity, oh, let us speak to the Rock. We can easily talk to one another about it, can't we? And tell other people how badly this goes and how wrong such-and-such a thing is. But speak to the Rock. Speak to Christ. Will He take care of it or not? Thank God, He will.
Why, the waters came out abundantly in spite of the fact that Moses didn't speak here. God is gracious in spite of our lack of faith. But how important for all of us: if we are going to restore unity where it has been interrupted, or if we are going to maintain unity, it requires the soul being in the very presence of God. Let's pray for all the saints, for every one of them. If, for instance, there is one with whom I don't agree, all the more important for me to pray for him. If there is one who crosses me a little, all the more important for me to pray for him. It will give me a different attitude toward him. The Lord stir us all, and lead us all through the wilderness, safely home to the Glory above, for His Name's sake.