Numbers 27:12-13 And the LORD said unto Moses, Get thee up into this mount Abarim, and see the land which I have given unto the children of Israel. And when thou hast seen it, thou also shalt be gathered unto thy people, as Aaron thy brother was gathered.”
It is a simple, two-letter word that children learn far too early in life, and as adults, we bristle when we hear it.
No means complete and utter denial of your request.
No means boundaries are set and should not be crossed.
No means that which you seek to possess is yet, unavailable.
No means rejection.
Moses was denied entrance to a land he had pointed over a million souls to seek once they left Egypt’s bondage. After the plagues and the parting of the Red Sea, he wandered with God’s people who followed.
As they followed, they murmured and complained.
It is one thing to hear the complaints of someone who has a legitimate claim to what has happened to them. But to complain about the blessings, the protection, and the provision of Almighty God who had revealed Himself in a miraculous way to the whole congregation, is ungrateful.
Moses heard those willing to come to him and express their displeasure with him, with God, with the situation and circumstances. I can imagine it was an almost daily occurrence that someone thought they could do it better. Had Moses not walked with God as closely as he did, he would have lost his temper far earlier than in the desert of Zin at the waters of Meribah.
You see, Moses was told what to do by God.
Numbers 20:7-8 “And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, Take the rod, and gather thou the assembly together, thou, and Aaron thy brother, and speak ye unto the rock before their eyes; and it shall give forth his water, and thou shalt bring forth to them water out of the rock: so thou shalt give the congregation and their beasts drink.”
Some say it was out of frustration, or out of anger, but, Moses didn’t quite do it the way God had asked him.
Numbers 20:11 “And Moses lifted up his hand, and with his rod he smote the rock twice: and the water came out abundantly, and the congregation drank, and their beasts also.”
Little thing, right? Not to God.
Numbers 20:12 “And the LORD spake unto Moses and Aaron, Because ye believed me not, to sanctify me in the eyes of the children of Israel, therefore ye shall not bring this congregation into the land which I have given them.”
Human nature is funny that way. We think we can bend a rule and think ourselves the exception. Then, when the authority comes, we are offended. Just ask any police officer who has stopped someone who ran a red light, or was speeding. They were justified in their mind for what it was they did. However, they are in denial when they are found to have crossed the line.
We treat God the same way.
We feel that because there was no immediate judgment for our sin that God must be OK with it.
We must NEVER mistake God’s longsuffering with our sinful behavior for His approval of our sin.
We push away the Holy Spirit when He comes and convicts us of our wrongdoing. We justify ourselves or play the victim of some perverse consequence that gives us a license or excuse to do what we did.
Left to our own devices, we can justify just about anything in our minds. But, in light of the Word of God, we stand clearly on the wrong side.
Because of his disobedience, God judged that Moses would not enter into the place he had sought for so long and led these rebellious people to come to rest. God was merciful and allowed him to see the Promised Land.
We might voice our earthly opinions that God was harsh; brash and spiteful. To know the significance of that rock and its symbolism to the coming Messiah, we might think more highly of God’s judgment.
There are many significant “No’s” that turned out for good.
Joseph was denied his freedom. For many years he languished away from family and friends; was falsely accused and thrown in jail. From that jail, God’s hand had prepared him to be the deliverer for Egypt and God’s children by preparing for the coming famine. He rose to second in command and was ultimately reunited with his father and his family in the end.
Abram was denied to know his destination when God told him to go. He arose early the next day and left where God led him. He was told he would receive an heir, a son who would be the progenitor of multitudes.
Then, God came and told him to take his son and offer him as a sacrifice. What seemed to be a denial of Abraham’s inheritance, became a display of great faith to all of us who read his testimony.
David wanted to build a house for God, but, was denied because of his bloodied past. He did not balk at the rebuke but gave a vast treasure to his son, Solomon to carry out the task.
Daniel was a man of great character. He had purposed that he would thrive in an environment that was extremely oppressive. The king was a narcissist. He wanted all to bow to his image. His mind was changed when the three Hebrews were thrown into the fiery furnace. Daniel was given a vision that was not for him to discern or know the meaning. God said, “No” to the request for understanding.
We even see Jesus was told, “No.”
Luke 22:41-42 “And he was withdrawn from them about a stone’s cast, and kneeled down, and prayed, Saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done.”
All these; especially our Savior, were told “No” by their God and Father. They were men of humility. They were submitted and committed. They realized that God had their well-being and welfare in mind when He said, “No.”
What of us?
How do we handle the “No”s in our life?
When we are told “No” to a raise at work?
When we are told “No” after a job interview?
When we are told “No” in a relationship, we desire, but the other does not?
When we are told “No” an authority in our life?
So many times we may hear that “No” in our lives, but how we handle is what matters. It may come as testing and a trial to see how we react. It may come as a matter of protection that we do not understand at the time. It may be that we desire an earthly possession and our finances tell us “No.”
Whatever the case may be, the only thing in our control is how we act or react when the “No” comes.
May we be humble enough, to hear the “No,” and submit to it. May God grant us the grace to glorify Him through it all and not become like the Israelites and murmur and complain our way through life only to die in a desert place.