In Numbers 20, the people of God find themselves camped at Kadesh, which means holy, or consecrated. To consecrate means to set apart for a purpose, an apt description of Israel for the Lord’s expressed purpose for his people was to make them a holy nation. Verse 2 states plainly that, “there was no water for the congregation.” In other words, their need was real. Unfortunately, their response was fuelled by unbelief and a bad attitude (which are like love and marriage as the song goes – you can’t have one without the other!) Just as in chapter 14, they come to outrageous conclusions as they quarrel with Moses: “Would that we had perished when our brothers perished before the Lord! Why have you brought the assembly of the Lord into this wilderness, that we should die here?” They say ‘why have you brought us’, forgetting that it was the Lord leading them; thus their contention was with God himself, not Moses. They called this place “evil”, disdained the Lord’s gracious provision, and even longed for a return to Egypt – the place from which God delivered them from over 400 years of slavery!
Something to Understand:
When we have a bad attitude, if we are honest and look deep enough, we will also find an area in which we simply do not trust God. The Israelites failed to keep the promises, character, and strength of God before their eyes; as a result they could only see temporal circumstances. Previously, they couldn’t see past the people of the Promised Land, now they cannot even see the fruitfulness of it. Of course the wilderness was not a fruitful land, but they would never reach their own land of promise and provision without going through it. As Christians, we are called to live by faith; as Paul says, ”we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal. (2 Corinthians 4:18)” The world we live within can make this profoundly challenging; thankfully God’s Word, works, and wonders serve to faithfully ground, guard, and guide us, if we keep our eyes on him!