Strike One. Strike Two. You're Out!
by Sophia Prinsloo with Barbara Wilmerton Haas
Text Version | Afrikaans
Teddy was quite nervous riding on the bus with his teammates to their baseball championship semi-finals. The air was charged with so much chatter and excitement that you could almost feel it. Their team had come such a long way to get this far and everybody in their small town considered it no small feat. They were their school's heroes but it was hard work, taking time and effort to improve their skills, practicing almost every day, playing weekly games against other teams. Teddy and his team had truly given their all and were now enjoying the fruit of their faithfulness and endurance. Only one more game and they would be in the finals. It would surely be a dream come true.
As they drove into the stadium parking lot, he could feel his heart beating faster but he quickly realized this was no time to get anxious. Bounding off the bus, the team streamed into the visitors' dressing room to get ready for the game. After a quick pep-talk by their coach as the game was about to begin, they marched the corridor, towards the dugout, taking their places on the bench.
Andy was up first up to bat, getting the game underway, when he hit a clean first ball, running comfortably up to first base.
Next was Teddy's turn. He got up from the bench, climbed the stairs of the dugout and got onto the field. He swung his arms like a pro, warming up his muscles while walking towards home plate. As he stepped into the batter's box, he glanced at the catcher. Immediately, he knew he shouldn't have done that, for the catcher had an evil look in his eyes. Softly, so that the umpire couldn't hear, the young catcher heckled him with a comment too disgusting to repeat in decent company. Teddy was shocked to his core to say the least, but tried to keep his cool as he raised his bat and looked the pitcher firmly in the eyes, trying to guess the type of ball he was going to pitch.
Ball in hand, the pitcher pulled back his arm, raising his leg and then stepped forward, throwing the ball with all his might. The fastball whizzed past Teddy, straight into the catcher's hands.
"Strike one!" the umpire called.
The catcher heckled him again: "You've got to swing that bat yourself; batteries ain't included."
Swinging the bat to loosen up, while trying to concentrate, Teddy took aim again. When the pitcher threw the curveball, he was ready but missed the ball completely.
"Strike two!' the umpire called.
"Nice swing, Alice!" the catcher hissed cunningly through his teeth again.
Teddy got cross because he ain't no girl! He was getting angrier by the second and when the third ball came towards him, he struck it, but he did not hit it clean and it went straight into the catcher's hands.
"You're out!" the umpire called nonchalantly.
As Teddy looked towards where the ball had gone, he stared straight into the catcher's face, mocking him with his tongue sticking out from behind his headgear. In that split second, Teddy lost his temper completely and in full force; he shoved the unsuspecting catcher so hard with his shoulder that he landed on his backside. Before he knew it, Teddy was on top of him, trying to rip the helmet from the catcher's head with his left hand and wanting to punch him in the nose with the right hand. Just in time, the umpire grabbed his arm and dragged him off the catcher.
Their coach came running on the field, took Teddy from the umpire by the arm and firmly escorted him from the field to the dressing room where he got a stern rebuke. Teddy could not believe what he did in the heat of the moment. He was so sorry for losing his temper, letting everybody down, but it was too late. What was done, was done, and he was banned from the rest of the match. Teddy's team eventually won the game without him and advanced to the final of the championship. As if that were not enough, his world came crashing down, crushing his dream, when he learned he had been banned from the final game as well.
After wandering in the barren wilderness for almost 40 years, the Israelites arrived at Kadesh again. Do you remember? It was the place where the 10 unbelieving spies caused the Israelites older than 20 years to completely miss out on entering the Promised Land.
This time around, Kadesh was the place where the people mourned the death of a prominent Israelite lady whom the Lord used in a special way in his plan to deliver the Israelites from Egypt. This lady was but a young girl when baby Moses was put in a waterproof basket in the Nile River, and she was given the task by her mother to guard over him. When the Egyptian princess discovered Moses and wanted him as her own, her quick-thinking bravery caused her to convince the princess to let Moses be nursed by his own mother. As a songwriter and prophetess, this faith-filled, 80-plus-year-old lady led the Israelites in joyous celebration, dancing and praising the Lord after He made a way for them through the Red Sea, saving them from the Egyptian army. Yes! It was Moses and Aaron's sister, Miriam.
Grief-stricken wailing and crying could be heard throughout the camp as the people paid their respect to their leader's beloved sister. Then suddenly, the mood in the camp quickly changed from mourning into discontentment when the Israelites discovered they had run out of water. They worked themselves up into a frenzy, gathered together into a rebellious mob and marched towards Moses' tent.
"Moses!" they yelled. "It is all your fault. Why did you ever lead us out of Egypt into this dry and dusty desert? You did it on purpose! You wanted to kill us all, young and old, as well as our flocks and herds."
They tried to blame Moses for all their problems, because they had forgotten that it was their own sin, disobedience and lack of faith that caused them to wander in the wilderness for 40 years. So they continued harassing Moses: "By the way, Moses, where is the fertile, Promised Land, overflowing with milk and honey? Where are the amazing crops, the juicy sweet figs, the healthy red pomegranates, the vines bearing enormous clusters of grapes? In this place there is not even enough water for our kids and us to drink, let alone our animals."
It was as if the hordes of hell were attacking Moses and Aaron. But these two wise, godly men knew from Whom to seek help. They turned away from the unruly crowd and made their way towards the entrance of the Tabernacle. There, they fell prostrate on their faces before the Lord and petitioned Him, their lives depending on Him for an answer.
The Lord, eager to listen to the cries of his beloved servants, was faithful and it wasn't long before the glory of the Lord appeared to them. He said to Moses, "Take the rod from before the ark in the Holy of Holies. Take it, and then you and Aaron gather together all the people at the rock. Let them watch as you SPEAK to the rock to yield and pour out its water. Then you must let the people and the animals drink to quench their thirst."
So Moses did as the Lord commanded. He took the rod from the Holy of Holies. Next, he and Aaron summoned the hard-hearted, rebellious people to come to the rock. They reluctantly came, grumbling and murmuring among themselves.
Moses was not in the least impressed by their bad, ungrateful attitude. He looked calm, but he was steaming inside, thinking, "How could they have so little faith in the Lord after all his miracles, showing his love and care for them? How could they dare to imply that he, Moses, would want them dead? From his days as a Prince in Egypt, he wanted only the best for them. And every time the Lord wanted to kill them and make Moses a great nation, he interceded for them, and the Lord forgave them. And now, after almost 40 years of wandering in the desert, they hadn't learned their lesson."
The anger in Moses' heart was on the verge of boiling over. Then, for the first time in almost 80 years, Moses was losing it. He yelled at the people, "LISTEN, you bunch of willful rebels! Must we bring you water from this rock?"
Moses lifted the rod in his hands high above his head, and with full force, he STRUCK the rock so hard it sent shockwaves up his arms. Then, as if that were not enough, in full fury, he STRUCK the rock for a second time. That was NOT what God commanded, but a strong stream of water gushed out from the rock anyhow. While the people stormed towards the water to quench their own thirst, filling up their water bags, giving water to their animals also, Moses heard the disappointed voice of the Lord.
He said, "Moses, Aaron! Why did you not believe Me when I said to SPEAK to the rock? Didn't you realize it was a different command than the previous time at Meribah where I commanded you to strike the rock once? Why were you disobedient and why did you not sanctify Me in the eyes of the Israelites? Because you dishonored Me in front of the people, you will not lead the Israelites into the Promised Land, the land of plenty that I am giving them."
Moses was extremely sad to hear this. What he did not understand at that time was that the Lord was planning on using him as a picture of what was to come. His leading the Israelites out of Egypt, into the Promised Land, all the while providing and caring for them, was God's way of showing the world how He would deliver all of mankind from sin and eternal death, and bring them back to fellowship with Him and into eternal life.
The first time at Meribah, which means "Rebel Waters," the Lord instructed Moses to STRIKE the rock ONCE. That was a picture of Jesus being struck once for our sins. As the Word of God tells us, He loved us so much that He freed us from our sins, once for all, by his own blood, dying on the cross at Calvary. Jesus would not die a second or third time for our sins, but only once. So Moses was supposed to strike the rock only ONCE that first time at Meribah.
Now, Moses messed up, striking the rock twice instead of speaking to it at this second visit of Meribah. Speaking to it was supposed to be a picture of praying to Jesus to ask for and receive his living waters. Disobeying a direct command from the Lord because of his blind anger, Moses dishonored Him in front of the people. Because Moses dishonored Him, the Lord had to show Himself holy by chastising Moses and letting him bear the consequences of his actions. Sadly, the consequence of Moses' sin was that he missed out on a blessing he had been looking forward to all his life.
Moses himself was supposed to be a picture or an example of Jesus, as the Word said that a prophet would come just like Moses. Here Moses was ruining the picture of Jesus. He was misrepresenting Him. How? He became angry at the people's complaining while, on the other hand, Jesus shows compassion when we are spiritually thirsty and ask Him for living water, reminding Him of his promises.
When you're tempted to blow up, don't sin, but confess it to the Lord and ask Him to help you stay calm and obedient to Him.
1. What did the people complain about in this story?
2. What was Moses supposed to do with the rock?
3. What did he end up doing?
4. Why did he do that?
5. Have you ever been angry?
6. Have you sinned in anger like Moses? Have you broken a toy in anger or hit somebody because you were mad?
7. Did you suffer any consequences?
8. If you believe and follow Jesus, do you think you are supposed to be a picture of Him too?
VERSE TO LEARN:
"For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God" (James 1:20).
ALTERNATE VERSES TO LEARN:
"Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath" (Ephesians 4:26).
"For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God" (1 Peter 3:18).
Heavenly Father, help us to not strike out in anger
when things don't go our way. Thank You that Jesus
was struck for our sins so that we could receive
forgiveness. Please pour out your Holy Spirit on us
to help us witness to others by our example
and serve you the way we should.
In Jesus' Name we pray. Amen.
CAN YOU FIND THIS STORY IN THE BIBLE?
REFERENCES FOR THE PICTURE OF CHRIST IN THIS STORY
Hebrews 9:26-28; 10:10, Romans 6:9-10, 1 Peter 3:18, 1 Corinthians 10:4, John 4:10
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Comic Book Bible, Volume 2 - From Jacob to Moses
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Follow and Do: God's Ten Commandments
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Does it bother you that God barred Moses from the Promised Land?
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