Unraveling Faith’s Journey: A Commentary on Numbers 20

Welcome to this detailed review of Numbers Chapter 20, a significant part of the Pentateuch in the Holy Bible, critically acclaimed for its intricately woven historical narrative replete with spiritual instruction. In this commentary, we explore this chapter, drawing from the New King James Version (NKJV) of the Bible.

Our goal is to provide a comprehensive understanding of the profound messages contained within this text, providing insight, clarity, and contextual understanding. Through the lens of charismatic Christianity, we’ll delve into the chapter’s themes of leadership, faith, obedience, and hope amid adversity.

We invite you to journey along as we unpack the noteworthy events and theological underpinnings in Numbers 20, appreciating the remarkable wisdom and guidance that these ancient scriptures continue to offer to believers today.

Key Takeaways

  1. Introducing Numbers 20: A Brief Overview: Numbers 20 provides insights into the journey of the Israelites from Egypt to the Promised Land. This chapter includes significant narratives such as the death of Miriam, the water from the rock incident, and the death of Aaron. It highlights the consequences of distrust, disobedience, and the influence of leadership.
  2. Gleaning Insights from Moses’ Actions in Kadesh (Numbers 20:1-13): Moses and Aaron faced the challenge of providing water to the Israelites when they complained. Instead of obeying God’s command to speak to the rock, Moses struck it out of frustration, leading to consequences. Lessons from this include trusting in God’s provision, obeying His instructions fully, and modeling godly behavior as leaders.
  3. An Examination of Aaron’s Death and Legacy (Numbers 20:22-29): Aaron’s death marked the end of an era in the Aaronite priesthood. His obedience and the continuity of the priesthood through his son Eleazar are emphasized. Despite Aaron’s imperfections, his contributions to the establishment of Israel’s religious system left a lasting legacy.
  4. The Significance of the Denial of Entry to the Promised Land (Numbers 20:14-21): The Israelites sought passage through Edom but were denied. This event highlights their dependence on God and the resistance of human authority to God’s plan. It also serves as a consequence of their complaints and lack of faith, leading to a prolonged journey.
  5. Drawing Lessons from The Complaints and Consequences in Numbers 20: Lessons from the Israelites’ complaints and Moses’ disobedience include the importance of remembering God’s previous victories, obeying God’s instructions fully, and giving God all the glory. The consequences of disobedience and substituting God’s glory for our own are highlighted.
gf0ngcju5lw Unraveling Faith's Journey: A Commentary on Numbers 20

Introducing Numbers 20: A Brief Overview

Numbers 20, a chapter of the Bible located in the fourth book of the Old Testament, provides significant insights into the journey of the Israelites from Egypt to the Promised Land. This particular chapter has a number of vital narratives ranging from the death of Miriam to the disobedience of Moses and Aaron. It’s a pivotal point in the Israelites’ story, demonstrating the cost of distrust in God and the influence of leadership.

Key narratives discussed in this chapter are presented below:

  • Miriam’s death: The chapter begins with the death of Miriam, one of the Israelites’ prophetic leaders (Numbers 20:1, NKJV). Her death marks a turn of events in their journey.
  • Water from the Rock: This is a compelling narrative in which Moses, implored by the Israelites due to a lack of water, strikes a rock twice upon God’s command to bring forth water (Numbers 20:2-13, NKJV). Contrary to God’s instructions, Moses’ disobedience, stimulated by frustration and anger, results in grave consequences.
  • Aaron’s death: Aaron, Moses’ brother and a significant aid in leading the Israelites, dies on Mount Hor. His death, much like Miriam’s, has great implications for the progression of the journey (Numbers 20:23-29, NKJV).

This chapter of the Bible draws attention to the indispensability of obedience to God’s instructions and the dire consequences of disobedience. It offers vital lessons on spiritual leadership, faith, coping with loss, and the importance of obedience. Numbers 20 serves as a reminder of God’s irrefutable power, grace and the repercussions when leaders allow frustrations to dictate decisions, instead of adhering to God’s directives.

Gleaning Insights from Moses’ Actions in Kadesh (Numbers 20:1-13)

Moses’ encounter in Kadesh, as detailed in Numbers 20:1-13, is filled with valuable lessons. The Israelites were in dire need of water, and in their desperation, they grumbled, complained, and disregarded their past encounters with God’s providence. Moses and Aaron, burdened by the people’s outcry, sought the Lord who instructed them to “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” (NKJV, Numbers 20:8). The key to note here is not the congregation’s desperation but God’s instruction for Moses’s actions.

Distressingly, however, Moses did not wholly conform to God’s command. Instead of speaking to the rock as God had ordered, he struck the rock twice with his rod. We could say he acted out of frustration, allowing his momentary rage to cloud his obedience to God’s precise instruction.

We glean from this that even the most godly amongst us fall short or react badly under pressure. However, this doesn’t negate the faithfulness of God, as evidenced by how water still gushed out abundantly to quench the thirst of people and their animals despite Moses’ disobedience.

There are also crucial lessons here about God’s holiness and His standards for leadership among His people. Moses, as the appointed leader of the Israelites, was supposed to model complete obedience to God’s commands, especially in front of the entire congregation. Yet, he disobeyed, publicly striking the rock instead of speaking to it.

Consequently, Moses was not allowed to lead the people into the Promised Land as a consequence of his actions (NKJV, Numbers 20:12). This piece of biblical history reminds us to:

  • Trust completely in God’s provision even in desperate moments.
  • Obey God’s instructions fully and accurately, never assuming our understanding is better than His.
  • Model godly behavior as leaders, being mindful that our public actions carry significant weight.

Think of it as a sober reminder of the cost and consequences of disobedience, and the necessity for righteousness in leadership.

An Examination of Aaron’s Death and Legacy (Numbers 20:22-29)

The death of Aaron, Moses’ brother and the first high priest of Israel, is captured in Numbers 20:22-29. The narration of his death is poignant and full of symbolism. Verse 24 of that passage captures the sobering reality of Aaron’s death as God declares, ““Aaron shall be gathered to his people, for he shall not enter the land which I have given to the children of Israel, because you rebelled against My word at the water of Meribah.” (NKJV)

In that regard, Aaron’s death marked an end of an era in the Aaronite priesthood, setting the stage for the transition of the priesthood to his son Eleazar.

Few key takeaways can be learned from the account of Aaron’s death:

  • Continuous Obedience: Just as God had faulted Moses and Aaron for striking the rock instead of speaking to it at Meribah as commanded (Numbers 20:7-12 NKJV), Aaron’s obedience to God’s command matter till the end of his life.
  • Significant Succession: Eleazar assumed Aaron’s duties in front of the entire community of Israel, symbolising the continuity of the Aaronite priesthood, despite the loss of its key figurehead.
  • Public Mourning: The whole house of Israel spent thirty days mourning Aaron’s death. This reveals the high regard the community had towards Aaron as a spiritual leader.

Aaron’s legacy as the founding figure of the Aaronite priesthood continues to reverberate throughout the biblical narrative long after his death. His contributions to the establishment of the Israelite sacrificial system and religious laws grounded a culture that would define the children of Israel as a nation.

However, it’s also essential to understand that like any human, Aaron had his shortcomings. He faltered during the incident of the Golden Calf (Exodus 32 NKJV), and at Meribah, which led to his and Moses’ exclusion from the Promised Land. Yet, despite these failings, his legacy remained undiminished, a testament to God’s grace and His ability to use imperfect people for His glory.

The Significance of the Denial of Entry to the Promised Land (Numbers 20:14-21)

In Numbers 20:14-21, the Israelites, desperate for water and survival, send a message to the King of Edom, requesting passage through his land. The king, however, denies them passage, even going so far as to gather his army as a deterrent.

This denial of entry into the Promised Land is significant for several reasons. Firstly, it’s a clear reminder of the Israelites’ dependent status. They were reliant on God’s intervention for their survival, bringing water from the rock (Numbers 20:11), but they also had to depend on the hospitality and goodwill of others.

Secondly, the episode underscores the human authority’s resistance against God’s plan. Despite the Israelites’ detailed explanation about their exodus from Egypt and their now desperate situation, the Edomites rejected their plea, highlighting the conflict between human will and divine plan.

Finally, the passage also reflects on the consequences of disobedience. The Israelites were rebuked for their complaints and lack of faith in God. The refusal of Edom to grant them passage meant an extended journey and more suffering, serving as a stern reminder of their rebellion. They were in a harsh wilderness, seeking entry to a land flowing with milk and honey. But the journey to that promise was fraught with challenges, due to their own failings and the hostility of others.

Drawing Lessons from The Complaints and Consequences in Numbers 20

When recalling the scenario unfolded in Numbers 20, it is easy to draw several lessons. The Israelites’ doleful mood leading to complaints against Moses, and ultimately God, represents the generational struggle with satisfaction and obedience. Reflectively, the Israelites, despite witnessing God’s arm of salvation, chose grumbling over praising.

Hence, the first lesson is a stern call to avoid turning our back on God’s previous victories in our life at the face of adversities. Like the Israelites, when we swiftly forget God’s previous miracles at the presence of momentary discomfort, it provokes God as we read in Numbers 20:12 (NKJV), ‘

Then the Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron, “Because you did not believe Me, to hallow Me in the eyes of the children of Israel, therefore you shall not bring this assembly into the land which I have given them.”‘

Secondly, Numbers 20 teaches us the importance of obedience over rationale. When God told Moses to speak to the rock to bring forth water, instead, Moses hit the rock twice. While some might rationalize Moses’ action as trivial, God considered this disobedience seriously – so much so that it cost Moses the chance to enter the Promised Land (Numbers 20:12).

This teaches us that God’s instructions are not mere suggestions, rather they are divine commands to be honoured, irrespective of human understanding. The key takeaway is that no one stands above God’s law – even the leaders of faith. God wants us to obey Him completely, not selectively.

The third and perhaps one of the most pivotal lessons is learning the consequences of substituting God’s glory for our own. Moses’ disobedience was not only about hitting the rock instead of talking to it. His choice of words, “Must we bring water for you out of this rock?” (Numbers 20:10) insinuates that he inadvertently took credit for the miracle, thereby substituting God’s glory for his own.

However, as Christians, we must understand and remember we are merely instruments of God’s works and it’s important to give Him all the glory. This humbling lesson reminds us to promptly direct all praise to God, for He alone is the miracle worker.


In conclusion, through our journey into Numbers 20 as outlined in the New King James Version, we are reminded of the complexities of human nature, the faithfulness of God, and His call for obedience. We have illuminated crucial moments, from the Israelites’ rebellion to Moses’ deviation from God’s command and the death of Aaron. In each turn, we are shown not just the history of God’s chosen people, but we also encounter timeless spiritual truths that resonate even in our modern context.

It is a call for a heartfelt examination and a humble reminder that as humans, we are all susceptible to faltering, even when we, like Moses, have a deep relationship with God. Even so, the mercy and faithfulness of God are ever-pervading, true to His words that “if we are faithless, He remains faithful; He cannot deny Himself” (2 Timothy 2:13, NKJV). Wrap these thoughts close to your heart, let them ricochet along the corridors of your day-to-day life.

Let us then take heed of the allegorical warnings and moral lessons from Numbers 20. May we, in our authentic pursuit of living out our faith, continually seek alignment with God’s commands, in complete obedience, absolute trust, and profound reverence – for this is our reasonable service (Romans 12:1, NKJV).

May His grace lead us, His wisdom guide us, and may His ceaseless love prompt us to live out a faith that is pleasing to Him – not only in highlighted moments of spiritual highs but also in our everyday choices. Be blessed and may you overflow with the love and grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.

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