Water: Provision Before the Strife

The unusual command of the Red Heifer (Numbers 19) is immediately followed by the tragic events of the death of both Miriam and Aaron. Sandwiched between these two moments of national mourning is the disqualification of Moses from leading Israel into the Promised Land.

I’ve taught in great detail on the incident recorded in Numbers 20:1-13, known as the incident at the waters of Meribah (20:13), the waters of strife.

The water had ceased flowing; and the rabbis connect this to the death of Miriam. The people panic. Moses, knowing that the Lord will provide water, does not panic, but scolds and responds bitterly, as we read in Psalm 106:32-33 , “And they provoked wrath at the waters of Meribah and Moses suffered on account of them; because they embittered his spirit, and he spoke rashly with his lips.”

This incident is a lesson for those being led, and those leading: 1) don’t panic, and 2) don’t be reactionary.


Just prior to the incidents described in Numbers 20, the Lord gives the suprarational command of the Red Heifer. While that is a subject too broad for this blurb, this command depends not only on the ashes of a Red Heifer, but also water.

In order to fulfill this command there would need to be fresh water in the camp, and the Lord knows this. He will provide.

Israel panicked. Moses reacted, bitterly. Yet, the Lord still provided (Num. 20:11).

How often when we find a lack somewhere in our lives, do we panic or begin to explore our own means of provision; or we react bitterly to the need, due to years of strife and struggle? In those moments, turn to the Word of God. His promise. And read what He has said.

He had just commanded the unusual, suprarational command of the Red Heifer (Num. 19), a key component of which is fresh water. At times we forget what He has commanded in the face of need, not recognizing that in the command there is also the supply necessary to do it, and to do life.

Water would flow, they just had to ask. Life would be restored. They just had to trust.

It is a blessing to know that even when we respond in a less than graceful manner, even in our frustration, that He will still provide.

Meditation: Psalm 1:1; Philippians 4:19; James 4:1-3.

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