He was frustrated. He was angry. He was tired of being blamed for everything that went wrong. Year after year, he had gotten them through one disaster after another. He was continually interceding on their behalf to keep them out of trouble. But all he got for his efforts was more grief. Finally, in exasperation, he said, “Hear now, you rebels! Must we bring water for you out of this rock?” (Num. 20:10).
That suggestion might sound preposterous, but it wasn’t. Forty years earlier, the previous generation had the same complaint: no water. God told Moses to strike a rock with his staff (Ex. 17:6). When he obeyed, water gushed out—plenty of water. When the grumbling started again so many years later, Moses did the thing that worked before. But this time it was the wrong thing to do. What Moses told the Israelites to do—to listen—he himself had not done. God had told him to speak to the rock this time, not strike it.
Sometimes in exhaustion or exasperation, we don’t pay close attention to God. We assume He will always work the same way. But He doesn’t. Sometimes He tells us to act; sometimes He tells us to speak; sometimes He tells us to wait. That is why we must always be careful to listen before we take action.