“Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says, ‘Oh, that today you would listen as he speaks! “‘Do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion, in the day of testing in the wilderness. There your fathers tested me and tried me, and they saw my works for forty years'” (Hebrews 3:7-9 NET).
God’s response to the historical account referenced here in Hebrews chapter three was swift and devastating…
…Then the Lord said ‘…not one of these people will ever enter that land. They have all seen my glorious presence and the miraculous signs I performed both in Egypt and in the wilderness, but again and again they have tested me by refusing to listen to my voice. They will never even see the land I swore to give their ancestors. None of those who have treated me with contempt will ever see it… The only exceptions will be Caleb son of Jephunneh and Joshua son of Nun.'” (1)
Unfortunately, this was not the only time when the people of ancient Israel exhibited this type of attitude. For example, the Scriptures tell us that God miraculously provided water for the Israelites on two separate occasions following their departure from Egypt. The first instance occurred while the nation was camped in an area known as Rephidim. It was during that time that the people of Israel quarreled and complained against Moses regarding the lack of water for their families and livestock.
In response, God directed Moses to go to an area known as Horeb and strike the rock that was located there. Moses did as he was instructed and God provided water for the people to drink as a result (see Exodus 17:1-7).
The second occurrence took place later in a place called Kadesh when the people of Israel voiced a similar complaint regarding the lack of water. In that instance, God instructed Moses to respond in the following manner: “Take the rod; you and your brother Aaron gather the congregation together. Speak to the rock before their eyes, and it will yield its water; thus you shall bring water for them out of the rock, and give drink to the congregation and their animals” (Numbers 20:8).
Unfortunately, Moses chose to strike the rock twice instead of speaking to it as he had been told. While God graciously provided water for the people anyway, Moses was subsequently disqualified from entering the Promised Land as a result of his disregard for God’s direction (see Numbers 20:1-13).
We’ll consider some modern-day applications based on these ancient examples next.
(1) Numbers 20, 22-23, 30 (NLT)