Ends and means (Numbers 20:10-14)

Numbers 20:10-14


10 Then Moses and Aaron gathered the assembly together before the rock, and he said to them, “Hear now, you rebels: shall we bring water for you out of this rock?” 11 And Moses lifted up his hand and struck the rock with his staff twice, and water came out abundantly, and the congregation drank, and their livestock. 12 And the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, “Because you did not believe in me, to uphold me as holy in the eyes of the people of Israel, therefore you shall not bring this assembly into the land that I have given them.” 13 These are the waters of Meribah, where the people of Israel quarreled with the Lord, and through them he showed himself holy.


        Do the ends justify the means? Is pragmatism a good thing? Does God care how we do things so long as we accomplish the task that he has assigned?


        If you are tempted to think that how we do things is not important so long as we get things done, think again. Moses led the people of God very well through the desert. Moses helped the people to learn the law of God. He put down rebels. He judged the disputes of the people for forty years. Then, at the end of the wilderness wanderings, Moses messed up. That one failure of Moses was enough to keep Moses from entering into the promised land.


        God told Moses to speak to the rock, commanding it to bring forth water for the people. Moses got angry at the stubborn people, and he chose to tinker with God’s orders. Moses chose a more dramatic course by striking the rock with his staff. While you might not think that this should matter, it mattered to God.


        Christians, it will often be tempting to use different methods than those of God to accomplish what we know to be good things. It is tempting to be pragmatic. But We might want to take a lesson from Moses. God cares not only what we accomplish, but how we accomplish it. God wants us to see his name as holy and to show his name as holy. God demands we give him glory. It glorifies God when we do things his way. It does not glorify God when we seek results in our own ways or through our own strength.