The Destination vs. The Path

Moses has been brought to life by the rifle-wielding Charlton Heston and shape-shifting Christian Bale. I’ll be honest, I haven’t seen either movie–the 10 Commandments or Exodus: Gods and Kings.

But I’ve read the script.

As I was reading this morning in Numbers 20 and 27, I felt that “Hey, you should pay attention, Patrick” nudge. In Numbers 20 the Israelites are once again grumbling, complaining, mumbling…it was incessant.

They were frustrated with how this whole exodus things was going. And they were thirsty. Flash back to Exodus 17 when the Israelites were grumbling, complaining, murmuring and God told Moses to strike a rock with his staff, and VOILA, water.

Back to Numbers 20. God tells Moses to get water from a rock again, only this time he was to ‘tell’ the water to come forth from the rock, not strike the rock. Moses hit the rock twice and water gushed forth.

  1. Moses was supposed to speak to the rock. He was disobedient.
  2. Water still came from the rock. Why? I’m not sure, but I presume because Moses was God’s appointed man, and He knew these persnickety people would eat Moses alive if they watched as he failed.

Hey, at least the people got water, right? Well done, Moses.

But God watches this and decides that rather than commendation, Moses and Aaron will receive consequence. Death. They did not believe in God or uphold Him as holy in the eyes of the people of Israel (Num 20:12).  The two guys who have led the people over these decades and entertained their barrage of complaints and fallen down before the Lord to plead on their behalves, well, no Promised Land for you.

Take Heed: It is possible to do a good thing, a helpful thing, a productive thing, a newsworthy thing…in an unfaithful manner.

From the vantage point of the people the goal had been achieved–water! Mission accomplished.

From the vantage point of God, unfaithful means are unfaithful no matter the outcome. The means, in the economy of God, are more important than the outcome. Faithfulness along the way is more important than the destination

Our minds conjure up so many dreams and goals and such, especially the minds of a group of folks sitting around a table–be it a board or group of elders. How often I’ve heard of a decision to pursue this or that goal/agenda and thought, whose vision is that exactly? Of course it’s unarguable since it’s given a stamp of divine approval. 

But for all our conquests in the name of God, we must be clear that it is not by any means possible that these plans be carried out. There may be moments, and should be moments, in which leaders say, “Wait, are we certain this is God’s plan?” or even “We confess, this was far more a human agenda than a holy agenda.” 

I have to be cautious not to take the Lord’s name in vain by setting out to reach a destination devoid of faithful journeying. After all, how would the people I’m leading know? For all Israel knew Moses was doing exactly as God had instructed. But whether it was Moses’ emotions that got the best of him or his ambition, he didn’t heed the voice of God. 

Is there any area or venture in which you’re striving towards a goal or have a plan that may need some reworking according to what God is speaking to you?

“Do not fear. Be of good courage” is a refrain throughout Exodus and Numbers. Rest assured knowing that the outcome of a faithful pathway will please God. It may not seem as glorious to other people (like seeing you hit a rock and water come gushing out), but you’ll know you were faithful to God. 

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