“Think this thing through. Was I acting out of character or did you expect me to behave that way? Was it my norm or were you shocked when you heard? Let’s face it – you were totally shocked by what I did. And, you had every reason to be! I wouldn’t normally have responded that way, but they aggravated me to the point where I literally exploded. Basically, it was not my fault; they made me do it.”

Have you ever felt you would have acted differently had it not been for others? “I knew better, but because of them, well.” Did you ever try to justify your own behaviour by blaming ‘them’?  “Really, the bottom line is, those scoundrels made me do it.”

They (the children of Israel) angered him (the Lord) at the waters of Meribah, and it went ill with Moses on their account, for they made his spirit bitter, and he spoke rashly with his lips. Psalms 106:32-33

The children of Israel were not easy to get along with. No matter what Moses did for them, they were the first to whine and complain and pout and blame at every inconvenience or apparent threat. They were chronic pessimists who could only see doom and gloom when the first hint of trouble appeared. If they had to wait for anything, they got antsy and irritable. Few would want to go on a long camping trip with them.

God selected Moses to be the leader of such a group. Believe it or not – Moses loved the campers he was leading. On more than one occasion he pleaded with God to go easy on them despite their annoying and unfaithful behaviour. But one day he lost it. He had been leading them for many years but the incident at Meribah seemed to be ‘the straw that broke the camel’s back’. (Numbers 20)

No water anywhere to quench their thirst. It’s true: God had never failed them in the past. Each time God came through with amazing wonders to meet their needs. But on this day, they were thirsty, and they got nasty and noisy. They blamed God and Moses. God directed Moses to just speak to the Meribah rock and the water would gush out. But Moses’ patience was wearing thin. Real thin. He snapped.

The normally patient and meek Moses was now allowing words to spew out of his mouth. Besides calling the people a bunch of rebels, we don’t know what else he said. The Psalm says he spoke ‘rashly’ with his lips! And then, rather than speaking to the rock, he took his rod and slammed it against the rock twice.

Moses’ failure on that one occasion was the cause of him never getting into the Promised Land. He got to see it, but his feet would never touch its soil – until centuries later when he appeared at the Mount of Transfiguration. (Matthew 17:3)

Was Moses banned from Canaan because of their bad behaviour or his own reaction to their behaviour? He never said: “But Lord, they made me do it. I had every reason to lose my cool. Anybody in my situation would have exploded!’

Regardless of what others do and regardless of their actions, I am personally responsible for my own actions and reactions. I will never be able to say: “They made me do it.”

Under intense provocation, Christ never lashed out. When He was reviled, He reviled not again. (1Peter 2:23)

Walk carefully and closely with the Lord today.

Warmly in Christ
Peter Ramsay

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