SPEAKING TO THE ROCK TO DRINK THE LIVING WATER
Numbers 20:1-13 tells us that after a certain time, the children of Israel came back again to Massah or Meribah. This third occasion of the children of Israel’s drinking is a repetition of the second one. Massah means temptation and Meribah means chiding or strife. It was at Massah or Meribah that the children of Israel tempted and strove with the Lord. By that time the children of Israel were circling in their travels. They were wandering in the wilderness and came back again to the same spot. If they had not wandered but had gone on, they would never have had a repetition of their experience at Massah. Because they were wandering and would not go on, they came back again to the place of tempting the Lord and striving with the Lord. If a local church would not go on but would wander, sooner or later that church will have a repetition of this poor experience.
The children of Israel chided with Moses again, and this time they really offended Moses. Moses went to the Lord, and the Lord told Moses to speak to the rock so that the water could flow out of it. There was no need for Moses to smite the rock because it had already been smitten and cleft. But Moses was angry with the people of Israel and called them rebels (Num. 20:10). This incident shows us that we need to be careful regarding how we treat and speak about the Lord’s children. Even if they are poor, we should not be so angry. Even if they are poor, it is safe to say that they are very good. If you are wise, you will not go to the parents of a certain boy or girl to say something bad about them. Regardless of how poor or how bad their children are, do not go to their parents to say something bad about them. It is best to tell the parents something good about their children.
The book of Numbers tells us the story of Balak hiring Balaam to curse the children of Israel. At that time the children of Israel were very poor. Balak thought it was the right time for him to hire Balaam to curse them because of the poor situation among them. All Balaam could do, however, was bless the children of Israel. He said that the Lord saw no iniquity or perverseness among the children of Israel (23:21). Balaam’s prophecy surprised Balak, so he took Balaam to another place to curse the children of Israel. Perhaps if Balaam would see the children of Israel from another angle, from another direction, he would see their real situation and curse them. Eventually Balaam said, “How goodly are thy tents, O Jacob, and thy tabernacles, O Israel!” (24:5). All Balaam could say about the children of Israel was something positive. Do not say that the church in your locality is so poor. If you say this, you will lose something.
Moses lost the entry into the good land due to his mistake in his anger at Meribah. Because he was angry, he did something wrong. The Lord did not tell him to smite the rock again. The Lord told him to go and speak to the rock, which had already been smitten. When people get angry, it is always easy for them to do something wrong. When you get angry, you must learn the secret of running away from the situation that makes you angry. Do not say anything or do anything. Just run away from the situation and keep yourself away until your anger is over. Then you may come back to say something. Even Moses, who was an old, experienced, humble, meek, and patient man, did something wrong in his anger.
It is very hard to pass the test of the local churches. In the local churches the leading brothers are always tested by the saints. They may have done many good things for the saints and to the saints, but the saints may forget these things. They may chide with the leading ones, fight against them, and say something poor about them. That may cause the leading brothers to be angry. But we need to be careful and not get angry. Do not call the saints rebels but always speak well concerning them. If you say that the brothers are good and the sisters are nice, you will gain something. Although Moses did something wrong by striking the rock, the Lord was merciful and the water still came out of the rock. The fact that the rock gave forth water even under the wrongdoing of Moses proves how merciful the Lord is.
(The Crucial Revelation of Life in the Scriptures, Chapter 4, by Witness Lee)