A couple years ago Numbers 20:1-13 (the passage where Moses strikes the rock) came up in our house and Cam made the comment that Moses did "the right thing, the wrong way". He did what God said but he didn't do it the WAY he said.
And while this is very true as I reflected on this now when I was reading it again, I had another thought...
God never told Moses to say anything to the people, just to gently speak to the rock, and yet Moses goes off and spews a line that I don't think God approved.
"Listen, you rebels!” he shouted. “Must we bring you water from this rock?"
I think that God heard the complaints of the people, and while Moses got frustrated, impatient and upset with the people, God once again intended to show His grace by quietly and patiently giving them what they were asking for. Moses lost it and spoke to the people in a way that was in direct contradiction to what God had intended and then in his impatience and anger he struck the rock instead of gently speaking to it as God had instructed.
So his disobedience wasn't only in striking the rock, I think his disobedience started with his address of the people. Instead of giving people the answer that God intended, Moses focused on the problem and his frustration with them. Focusing on people as the problem and accusing them of being a problem usually doesn't cause them to want to change. By talking to the people and calling them rebels (complainers), it's unlikely that Moses would have taught the people anything. Instead of reacting to the people's complaints God wanted Moses to show patience and grace. Moses's answer was anything but gentle it made me think of Proverbs 15:1
A gentle answer deflects anger, but harsh words make tempers flare.
Applying that to our own lives, I kept thinking of my own kids and how I handle situations with them. Do I show patience and grace when they've made mistakes and talk gently to them about it or do I scream and yell and "strike the rock" instead. I notice this especially in my youngest son. The more you yell and scream the more he "rebels". With him a gentle, patient answer is the key. This is not always easy, nor is it always the quickest solution but I think it's the right response and I think that is the response that God intended here in this situation with Moses.
Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage: Numbers 21-22