Bob - our team leader - had asked me to share a devotional with the group. So after a long day, we all gathered around the nice big fireplace in the restaurant.
Moses was called by God to lead the Israelites out of captivity. After quite a bit of convincing, Moses finally submitted to God's call. After many years of wandering, the people were nearing the time to enter the Promised Land. Moses, however, had been forbidden by God to enter the land. In Deuteronomy 3:23, we read Moses' words to God:
"And I pleaded with the LORD at that time, saying, 24 'O Lord GOD, you have only begun to show your servant your greatness and your mighty hand. For what god is there in heaven or on earth who can do such works and mighty acts as yours? 25 Please let me go over and see the good land beyond the Jordan, that good hill country and Lebanon.' 26 But the LORD was angry with me because of you and would not listen to me. And the LORD said to me, 'Enough from you; do not speak to me of this matter again.
I was struck by Moses' comment in verse 24. "You have only begun to show...your greatness and your mighty hand." Amazing. Think about it. Think about all that Moses had already seen God do! First you have the fact that his life was saved when we was a mere baby. Then when he approached Pharaoh to take the people out of Egypt, he saw God perform miracle after miracle. The plagues, the death of the firstborn, the parting of the Red Sea. Then for years in the wilderness Moses watched as God led them with a cloud by night and a pillar of fire by night. God supplied manna from heaven for the people to eat. Moses had seen God do so many great and mighty things in his lifetime. Yet he says "You have only begun to show...your greatness and your mighty hand." Moses understood something about God. God is infinite. God can do more than we can even imagine. Our minds are so limited we cannot even grasp the greatness of God.
But what was Moses asking for? "Please let me go over and see the land beyond the Jordan." Moses had been forbidden by God from entering the Promised Land. Why? Check out Numbers 20:
The people had run out of water. They were thirsty. They were complaining to Moses. So Moses went to God. "What should I do?" God gave Moses very clear orders.
"Take the staff, and assemble the congregation, you and Aaron your brother, and tell the rock before their eyes to yield its water. So you shall bring water out of the rock for them and give drink to the congregation and their cattle." (Numbers 20:8)
God told Moses to talk to the rock, and water would be supplied. But keep reading - look what Moses did:
"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." (Numbers 20:10-11)
Moses hit the rock! God told him to talk to the rock, and Moses, in his anger, hit it!
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." (Numbers 20:12)
So God told Moses he would not be entering the land. All those years Moses had done so much. And now, one time, Moses gets angry, and God says "That's it - you are not going in!" Seems harsh. Why would God be so mean so suddenly?
Here's what I think. I think God wants the glory. I know God wants the glory. In fact, I believe that is why God punished Moses this time. Moses - whether he meant to or not - by saying what he did and striking the rock like he did, made it look like he was the one that made the water come out of the rock. He made it look like it was his idea. He made it look like it was in his power. Rather than putting God at the top, he elevated himself to the level of God. And that is what God cannot stand.
Moses was forbidden from entering the Promised Land, because he took the focus off of God and led the people to believe that Moses performed a miracle. God said "you did not uphold me as holy in the eyes of the people."
Here's the take away. Everything I do, I do only because God allows me to do it. Without God I am nothing. But my human nature leads me to bring attention to myself. To make sure people like me, that people notice how great I am. I like it when people tell me I did a good job. Now, there's nothing wrong with doing a good job, there's nothing wrong with being noticed. The problem is when I take the glory. The problem is when I fail to redirect the attention to God, without whom I would be nothing.
What about you? When is the last time you recognized the source of your power. Whether you go on a missions trip to another country, or feed homeless people in your own town, remember this - it is for God and because of God that you do these things. Any other motive is wrong. Giving glory to any other source is wrong.
Remember - God has only begun to show you His greatness and His mighty hand.