As Israel sojourned through the wilderness, they came to a place where they were no longer satisfied with the provision of the Lord and His promise of a land flowing with milk and honey. (Okay, to be fair, they came to a lot of places like that.)
The people of God grumble against Him, as they've become accustomed to doing by this point, and Moses takes a good bit of the grumbling himself. He, too, goes to God, complaining. He doesn't understand why God gave him a people like this one and what he's supposed to do now in order to respond to them. The people are losing faith in God, yes, but they are also losing faith in Moses. And Moses is losing faith in the people.
This whole wilderness thing is falling apart, God. What now?
God tells Moses to lead the people to this certain rock that is in the midst of the place where they are now grumbling, and then He tells Moses to strike the rock with his staff and water will come rushing out of it, enough water for the people to drink and to satisfy their thirst.
So Moses does just that...sort of. He gathers the people around the rock and asks them what their deal is, what their major malfunction is that the Lord God who led them miraculously out of Egypt, crossed them over the Red Sea, drowned their enemies, and has provided sustenance for them along their journey isn't enough for them any more. He asks them what they want him to do about their grumbling, how long it will take them to stop being a grumbling people. He's fed up, and it shows.
And then, Moses strikes the rock with his staff - not once, but twice - and water comes gushing out of it, enough water for the people to drink and to satisfy their thirst.
And as it does, the Lord expresses His displeasure with Moses. He doesn't like how this whole thing went down, even though it is...kinda...what the Lord Himself told Moses to do. Yet because this didn't go the way He wanted it to go, God is now upset with Moses, and Aaron, and declares that neither one of them will ever enter the Promised Land that they've had their sights on for so long. Neither one of them will set foot on this land flowing with milk and honey. They're done.
It's hard for us in the limits of language and in the version of the story that we're given to understand exactly what went wrong here. What, exactly, was the sin Moses committed at the rock? We have a few guesses, but nothing concrete really to go on. Still, we spend a lot of our time trying to figure out what it was. And preach it. And use it as an object lesson. And talk about Meribah. And, of course, talk about the implications of Living Water flowing from a Rock.
There's a lot in this story. But the thing I want to start with is...(stay tuned).