Numbers 20* The people come to Zin, They murmur for water, Moses directedto smite the rock, The infirmity of Moses and Aaron. (1-13) TheIsraelites are refused a passage through Edom. (14-21) Aaronreigns the priest's office to Eleazar, and dies in mount Hor.(22-29)1-13 After thirty-eight years' tedious abode in the wilderness,the armies of Israel advanced towards Canaan again. There was nowater for the congregation. We live in a wanting world, andwherever we are, must expect to meet with something to put usout. It is a great mercy to have plenty of water, a mercy which,if we found the want of, we should more own the worth of.Hereupon they murmured against Moses and Aaron. They spake thesame absurd and brutish language their fathers had done. It madetheir crime the worse, that they had smarted so long for thediscontent and distrusts of their fathers, yet they venture inthe same steps. Moses must again, in God's name, command waterout of a rock for them; God is as able as ever to supply hispeople with what is needful for them. But Moses and Aaron actedwrong. They took much of the glory of this work of wonder tothemselves; "Must we fetch water?" As if it were done by somepower or worthiness of their own. They were to speak to therock, but they smote it. Therefore it is charged upon them, thatthey did not sanctify God, that is, they did not give to himalone that glory of this miracle which was due unto his name.And being provoked by the people, Moses spake unadvisedly withhis lips. The same pride of man would still usurp the office ofthe appointed Mediator; and become to ourselves wisdom,righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption. Such a stateof sinful independence, such a rebellion of the soul against itsSaviour, the voice of God condemns in every page of the gospel. 14-21 The nearest way to Canaan from the place where Israelencamped, was through the country of Edom. The ambassadors whowere sent returned with a denial. The Edomites feared to receivedamage by the Israelites. And had this numerous army been underany other discipline than that of the righteous God himself,there might have been cause for this jealousy. But Esau hatedJacob because of the blessing; and now the hatred revived, whenthe blessing was about to be inherited. We must not think itstrange, if reasonable requests be denied by unreasonable men,and if those whom God favours be affronted by men. 22-29 God bids Aaron prepare to die. There is something ofdispleasure in these orders. Aaron must not enter Canaan,because he had failed in his duty at the waters of strife. Thereis much of mercy in them. Aaron, though he dies for histransgression, dies with ease, and in honour. He is gathered tohis people, as one who dies in the arms of Divine grace. Thereis much significancy in these orders. Aaron must not enterCanaan, to show that the Levitical priesthood could make nothingperfect; that must be done by bringing in a better hope. Aaronsubmits, and dies in the method and manner appointed; and, foraught that appears, with as much cheerfulness as if he had beengoing to bed. It was a great satisfaction to Aaron to see hisson, who was dear to him, preferred; and his office preservedand secured: especially, to see in this a figure of Christ'severlasting priesthood. A good man would desire, if it were thewill of God, not to outlive his usefulness. Why should we covetto continue any longer in this world, than while we may do someservice in it for God and our generation?
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