20 And the people of Israel, the whole congregation, came into the wilderness of Zin in the first month, and the people stayed in Kadesh. And Miriam died there and was buried there.
2 Now there was no water for the congregation. And they assembled themselves together against Moses and against Aaron. 3 And the people quarreled with Moses and said, “Would that we had perished when our brothers perished before the Lord! 4 Why have you brought the assembly of the Lord into this wilderness, that we should die here, both we and our cattle? 5 And why have you made us come up out of Egypt to bring us to this evil place? It is no place for grain or figs or vines or pomegranates, and there is no water to drink.” 6 Then Moses and Aaron went from the presence of the assembly to the entrance of the tent of meeting and fell on their faces. And the glory of the Lord appeared to them, 7 and the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 8 “Take the staff, and assemble the congregation, you and Aaron your brother, and tell the rock before their eyes to yield its water. So you shall bring water out of the rock for them and give drink to the congregation and their cattle.” 9 And Moses took the staff from before the Lord, as he commanded him.
10 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?” 11 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. 12 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.” 13 These are the waters of Meribah,[a] where the people of Israel quarreled with the Lord, and through them he showed himself holy.
Wouldn’t you love the ability to go back in time and change something you did or said? I know there have been moments in my life—awful moments when I acted on the impulse of the flesh—that I would dearly love to call back. But alas, I cannot.
Don’t you imagine, during those days prior to his homegoing, Moses would have cheerfully given his right arm to relive that incident at the rock? “Oh Lord, if I could only back up and do that all over! I would have cried out for Your help to control my anger. I would have been more concerned for Your glory. I would have done exactly as You instructed.”
But he couldn’t go back. In a single moment of rage, he forfeited his right to lead Israel. He threw away his opportunity to enter the Promised Land.
The sad fact is, we cannot go back. None of us can. We cannot undo sinful deeds or unsay sinful words. We cannot reclaim those moments when we were possessed by rage, lust, cruelty, indifference, or hard-headed pride. Like Moses, we may be forgiven for those sins and have them blotted out of our record by the blood of Christ. Even so, we must live with the consequences of our words and our actions. What we sow, the Scriptures warn, we will also reap.
No, we can’t go back. Our gracious Lord has covered our past with His own blood, given on the cross for us. David reminds us that, “As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us” (Psalm 103:12).
But we can learn to walk much closer with Him, day by day, hour by hour, moment by moment. We can keep short accounts with Him and lean on the Holy Spirit to guard our hearts and shield us from destructive, life-shattering sins. He will do it. He has promised to provide us with a way of escape so that we can bear up under any temptation (1 Corinthians 10:13)—any temptation at any moment.
If this becomes our way of life, my friend, when God says speak to the rock, we will speak, not strike. And the water that flows from those moments of obedience will refresh a multitude, including ourselves, with no aftertaste of regret.
Let the Holy Spirit guard your heart. He can shield you from destructive sins.
— Charles R. Swindoll