Numbers 20:1-13 (Part 3) – A Little Gold Ashtray and a Hole in the Bedroom Door

Posted: September 29, 2016 in Book of Numbers
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Numbers 20:1-13 (Part 3)

Water from the Rock

Have you ever lashed out in anger at someone or a group of people and did or said something that you later regretted doing? We have all had those times. I’ve had such times. You’ve had such times. Living in a fallen world, we sometimes let anger get the best of us. I am usually a person who takes guff from others and does not react and just pushes down the anger inside until it builds and builds and builds into an explosion of anger when I pass my crap limit. Although there are some who physically lash out at others and attempt to physically hurt someone else, my reactions are never physical toward another but are more passive/aggressive than direct. I remember one time when I was married to my first wife and things had deteriorated badly and probably was not more than a month or two before we broke up in the Spring of 1993. My first wife had a way of just pushing your buttons. She had a way of arguing that would drive you insane where she would argue a point to the point I had proved her wrong and then she would reverse course and begin arguing down a path that was completely opposite of her previous line of argument. She was a violent person as well. She would hit me and throw things at me. She had hit me with a clothes iron before. Threatened me with a hair dryer while I was in the shower. It was bad those last few months. I prided myself on being the logical one. I prided myself in being the one who would keep their cool in the midst of these outrageous arguments. She would lose complete control of her senses but I was proud of myself for not being like that in our battle to win whatever there was to win. The last few months we were together arguing and her violence toward me were the menu of each day.

 

Finally, one night of arguing late into the night about something I do not even remember to this day, she was arguing with me from behind a closed door to our bedroom, which of course she had locked to prevent me from going to bed in our bedroom. She said something, most likely about my manhood, that pushed me passed my crap-handling limit. Though the limit for me is pretty high, she reached it – after months of non-stop arguing. I picked up a small square ash tray. You know, one of the little gold glass ones that you can see through. I picked it up and throw it as hard as I could against. I don’t even remember what I expected to happen from that. I just threw it as hard as I could. I have probably never through any object or ball or whatever as hard as I threw that little ashtray. Guess what happened? Instead of shattering against the wooden door and falling into a million pieces on the hallway laminate floor, the ashtray wedged into the wooden door. I threw it so hard that it created a crater in the wooden door and almost penetrated through to the other side of the door in the bedroom. It did break the skin of the door on the bedroom side of the door but did not push all the way through. It was an ugly mess on the other side of the door. The wood at the penetration point was caved in and splintered. Momentarily, I was amazed at the physics of it. The speed and force that was required to make the glass ashtray penetrate the door rather than shatter and break against it was something to consider. Months and months of anger poured out in that throw. It was a release of bottled up negative energy. Being the subdued person that I normally I am, after those few seconds of being amazed at my arm strength (fleeting few seconds of thinking that I was gifted enough to be in the major leagues), I immediately regretted having been that angry and losing control. That was when I knew our marriage was done. It was one thing for her to be out of control (because that was just her nature) but it was another for me to be. Both of us losing control was not good. I regretted it immediately. I immediately knew that if I had passed the point of reason then the marriage was no longer a safe one. Someone was going to get hurt or one or both of the kids were going to get hurt. I know I had to leave. It was not too long after that when I left the marital home and did not return.

 

The irony of it all was that even though I was the calm one of the two of us was that she used that hole in the door to portray me as a violent man to others and to the court whenever it was advantageous to her. Even though anyone who knows me knows that I am a gentle, roll with the flow, everybody get along kind of guy, I was branded as wife-beater because of that hole in the door. I regretted immediately losing my cool because I knew that this would be the result. Branded.

 

It was that last confrontation of my first marriage that I thought of when I read through our passage this morning. How anger can get the best of us sometimes. I can identify with Moses. Sometimes we get so frustrated that we just lose it. Even when we are normally reasonable people, we can sometimes get pushed past our breaking point. Even a mighty biblical figure as Moses can reach his crap limit. Let’s read Numbers 20:1-13 together for a third time this morning:

 

20 In the first month the whole Israelite community arrived at the Desert of Zin, and they stayed at Kadesh. There Miriam died and was buried.

 

2 Now there was no water for the community, and the people gathered in opposition to Moses and Aaron. 3 They quarreled with Moses and said, “If only we had died when our brothers fell dead before the Lord! 4 Why did you bring the Lord’s community into this wilderness, that we and our livestock should die here? 5 Why did you bring us up out of Egypt to this terrible place? It has no grain or figs, grapevines or pomegranates. And there is no water to drink!”

 

6 Moses and Aaron went from the assembly to the entrance to the tent of meeting and fell facedown, and the glory of the Lord appeared to them. 7 The Lord said to Moses, 8 “Take the staff, and you and your brother Aaron gather the assembly together. Speak to that rock before their eyes and it will pour out its water. You will bring water out of the rock for the community so they and their livestock can drink.”

 

9 So Moses took the staff from the Lord’s presence, just as he commanded him. 10 He and Aaron gathered the assembly together in front of the rock and Moses said to them, “Listen, you rebels, must we bring you water out of this rock?” 11 Then Moses raised his arm and struck the rock twice with his staff. Water gushed out, and the community and their livestock drank.

 

12 But the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, “Because you did not trust in me enough to honor me as holy in the sight of the Israelites, you will not bring this community into the land I give them.”

 

13 These were the waters of Meribah,[a] where the Israelites quarreled with the Lord and where he was proved holy among them.

 

Here in this passage, Moses was told by the Lord to SPEAK to the rock. However, Moses struck it – not once but twice. God did the miracle, yet Moses was taking the credit for it when he shouted out his exclamation at Numbers 20:10. For this, Moses was forbidden to enter the Promised Land – for disobeying God’s direct command and for taking credit for something that God had done. I can identify with Moses. He just got pushed past his crap limit by the Israelites. They had nagged him, slandered him, and rebelled against him for forty years. He just lost it. But Moses was a leader and should have taken the higher road. Regardless of his personal anger at the people, he had to exhibit a higher moral ground that he did. With leadership comes great responsibility. As husbands and fathers, we should remember this.

 

Sometimes, as leaders, as fathers, as husbands, we must remember the end game of leading the people that we lead. We cannot react to things, as leaders, the way followers react. We must remember that we are an example to those we lead.

 

In our marriages, we must remember that we, as men, are charged to lead our household. We must be the example of reasonable and measured faith, reasonable and measured responses to the world around us. We cannot lash out in fits of rage like others might. What example are we setting for our wives and our children. Even if we are badgered and nagged and cojoled, we must be the cooler head that prevails. Further, we must take seriously the example that we set. Our families are watching. Our wives are watching. Our kids are watching (even when they do not live with you anymore). If we want our family to be what we want them to be, we must set the example. We must be the example of what we want them to be. With our authority in the family, given by God, we must hold ourselves to a higher standard. Regardless of what our wives and children do, we must be the example of a godly man for them to follow. We do not get a break. We do not get a pass. It is our full-time 24/7/365 job to lead our families. We cannot take a break. We cannot say, “my wife is doing this so I don’t have to do this.” We must lead our families by example always. If we want our families to follow God, we must be following God. We cannot have lapses in leadership. Sure, we make mistakes and we should admit it when we do. But, we cannot walk away from our leadership in our families. We must be the example.

 

Just as I at the end of a marriage chose to react with passion instead of reason, we can be branded as not leading our homes well when we are not the example that we want our families to be. It starts with us as fathers and husbands. We must be the example of that which we desire of our families. They follow our lead no matter whether they admit it or not. Women and children want us to be the leader of our home. We are men. We are the husbands and fathers. It starts with us. We must be above the fray. We must be the ones who set the standard of godly behavior. We get to break on that because we are charged with be the leaders of our homes.

 

Amen and Amen.

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