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Devotion for February 25, 2008


Gerald Ford’s pardon of Richard Nixon after the Watergate scandal produced a firestorm of criticism. Many Americans wanted to see the former President held responsible. Whether it’s a culpable president or CEO, people want to see justice served.

The Bible sets up a strict standard for its leaders. Even as our key verse warns, we shouldn’t be hasty in aspiring to leadership positions within the church, for in such roles, we will be held to more stringent standards of accountability.

Moses is one such example. His work was beset with a constant barrage of criticism and opposition. He had to lead an unruly people who chronically fell into despair and doubt. It didn’t seem to matter what miracles God performed on their behalf. It never inspired sufficient faith for the next challenge. And when God threatened to utterly destroy them, Moses pleaded for their acquittal. He demonstrated a relentless commitment to these people.

In today’s reading, however, all the anger and frustration built up over almost forty years of wandering in the desert caught up with Moses. The Israelites find themselves again without water, not a new scenario for them (cf. Exodus 17). God had already proven that He could provide for the needs of His people.

Moses and Aaron certainly didn’t doubt God’s provision. Once the grumbling started, they headed for the Tent of Meeting. They had the faith to believe that, as He had before, God had the answer yet again.

But Moses and Aaron committed an egregious error before God, one that likely seems minor to us. Rather than speaking to the rock to bring forth the water, Moses struck the rock with his staff. God charged Moses and Aaron with a failure to trust and honor Him. The punishment was radically severe: neither Moses nor Aaron would be permitted to enter the Promised Land.

Apply the Word

Was God’s punishment of Moses and Aaron unnecessarily harsh? Believing that God’s ways are always true and just, we recognize that God saw this as an appropriate measure of discipline. We need to pray for our leaders who are held to this strict accountability of which the Bible speaks. We must pray for their perseverance, their obedience, their courage, and their unwavering trust in God. Perhaps our prayers and encouragement are just what they need when their discouragement or anger could lead them into sin.

BY Jennifer Michel

Jen Pollock Michel is a regular contributor to Christianity Today’s Her.meneutics blog. Her first book, Teach us to Want: Longing, Ambition and the Life of Faith, is published by InterVarsity Press. Jen earned her BA in French from Wheaton College and her MA in Literature from Northwestern University. She lives in Toronto, Canada, with her husband and five children, and serves on staff at Grace Toronto Church.

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