Week of Monday, March 21 ­– Sunday, March 27
Temper Trouble – Man as Instructor
Then Moses and Aaron gathered the assembly together before the rock, and he said to them, “Hear now, you rebels: shall we bring water for you out of this rock?” And Moses lifted up his hand and struck the rock with his staff twice, and water came out abundantly, and the congregation drank, and their livestock. And the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, “Because you did not believe in me, to uphold me as holy in the eyes of the people of Israel, therefore you shall not bring this assembly into the land that I have given them.” – Numbers 20:10-12 ESV
Has your temper ever gotten the best of you? Join the club. I’ve had my fair share of moments when my temper got me into trouble—moments I deeply regret, wish I could rewind and have a “do over.” Moses had one of those moments in the wilderness with the people of Israel. 
The events in these verses occur near the end of Israel’s 40-year forced detour through the desert because of their distrust and disobedience toward God. The Israelites had grown sick and tired of wandering through the wilderness. Just like a family cooped up in a car on a long road trip, everyone was getting testy, including Moses. They camped at a place called Kadesh, and they ran out of water. Naturally, the Israelites began to complain and quarrel and blame Moses and Aaron, who in turn, took this problem to the Lord, which we should always do. 
God instructed Moses as to how to provide water for them, but this time it was different: Speaking to the rock instead of striking the rock, which was the means God had provided water for them previously (see Exod. 17:1-7). But when Moses left the Lord’s presence and came before the people, he lost his temper. Instead of speaking to the rock as God commanded, he struck the rock, not once but twice. While God graciously provided water for the people and their livestock, his judgment on Moses was severe. Moses’ angry distrust and disobedience was disqualifying. Sadly, the man who led them out of Egypt would not lead them into the Promised Land.
Truth is Moses had temper trouble. Just survey his life, and it becomes evident. In vengeful anger, he killed the Egyptian taskmaster, hid the body in the sand, then fled Egypt (Exod. 2:10-12; Acts 7:23-24). In “hot anger,” he left Pharoah after announcing the final plague on Egypt (Exod. 11:4-8). When Moses witnessed the idolatry and immorality of the people fresh from Mount Sinai, his “anger burned hot.” He smashed the Ten Commandments, ground the golden calf into powder, sprinkled it in their water and made them drink it. Yes, that was righteous anger, but when Moses went back up the mountain to get the second set of commandments from God, this time he had to carve the tablets himself. There is no indication that God ever gave approval of any of Moses’ angry outbursts. 
Indeed, this particular temper tantrum at Kadesh cost Moses dearly. If Moses had spoken to the rock, then this miracle would have pointed to God as provider. However, Moses claimed to be their provider: “Hear now, you rebels: shall we bring water for you out of this rock?” By doing this, Moses turned the people's focus from the Lord onto himself. He did not uphold the Lord as holy. Again, the result was a heartbreak for Moses, who prayed repeatedly that God would reverse his decision, but God said his decision is final (see Deut. 3:23-28). Moses would not be allowed to enter the Promised Land.
Temper tirades, outbursts of anger, and fits of rage result in a lot of heartbreak in our families, in our culture, and even in the church. Men, we need to teach others by our example in our role as Instructors on how to exercise Holy Spirit-produced self-control and express our anger in appropriate and healthy ways. Is there a time for righteous anger and indignation? Absolutely! Yet most of the time we lose our temper over relatively minor irritations and inconveniences. We often say and do things we don’t really mean to, but the damage is done. Remember, people are always watching, especially our kids and grandkids. Don’t blow a lifetime of positive witness with a moment of rage. Teach others by how you hold your temper.  
  • Do you have one of those pivotal, life-changing moments like Moses experienced, where your temper got you into big trouble? Find those who were in the “blast radius” of your blow-up and ask for their forgiveness. Use it as an opportunity to teach what not to do.
  • What are some of the triggers that ignite your temper? What are some steps you could take to defuse some of those moments? 
  • Ask God to help you yield to the Holy Spirit, who produces self-control (Gal. 5:22-23), channel your anger against evil and injustice without committing sin (Eph. 4:26), and provide a positive example to others when it comes to managing your temper.