by Tony Nester

Murmurings in the Wilderness
Tony R. Nester
Numbers 20:1-13; 21:4-9

Today we are going to cover two stories in the Bible that tell about the complaints or "murmurings" made by the Israelites during their time in the wilderness.

Both stories are found in the Book of Numbers. This Old Testament book begins by telling us that Moses did a census or counting of the Israelites to determine how many men were of age to go to battle. Moses numbered them and that's why it's called "Numbers."

The first story is called the Waters of Meribah. You'll find it on page 138 in the Old Testament in the Pew Bibles. It's the tragic story of how Moses committed the sin that resulted in his being barred from entering the Promised Land. Moses became so provoked at the people's murmuring that he made a critical error in his leadership. The story is found in Numbers 20:1-13. (Read Text.)

One of the dangerous temptations that faces every leader is arrogance. I'm referring to the arrogance of believing that you can make things happen through the sheer forcefulness and skill of your leadership. Arrogant leaders believe that everything depends upon them, and that they and they alone are responsible for the success of those they lead. These kind of leaders no longer value their followers ideas, gifts, or talents. They merely want followers to do as they are told.

Church leaders -- pastors in particular -- deal with the temptation of arrogance. And the temptation grows as a pastor's success grows. The bigger the church, the larger the budget, the impressive the building, the more a pastor is likely to be told he or she is a great leader and the more likely that pastor is to come to believe that neither God nor the Congregation had much to do with his or her success in ministry -- that it all depended on his or her leadership skill.

One of the outstanding pastors of our day is John Maxwell who recently retired from Skyline Weselyan Church in Lemon Grove, California. One of J ...

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